Health & Beauty: See the light
Venturing into the great outdoors helps to lift the spirits. Photo courtesy of RHS Wisley/Jon Enoch
Turning back the clocks can fill you with gloom. Take action now, says Fiona Adams, and help yourself banish those winter blues
Autumn may be one of our loveliest months, but the thought of the clocks going back can chill our veins as much as the onset of colder weather.
Even if we had experienced the best summer on record, it still would not shore us up against the shorter days and fewer hours of sunlight on the horizon – both of which can have an impact on our mood swings and energy levels.
In short, sunshine is inextricably linked to our general feeling of happiness and wellbeing – it lightens our lives on many levels.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), often dubbed ‘winter depression’ or the ‘winter blues’, affects 7% of us between September and April, with most sufferers at their lowest ebb during December, January and February.
It is literally what it says on the tin – a condition that has a seasonal pattern, with depression happening at the same time each year.
Not everyone is affected, but for those who are, the lack of sunlight has an impact on the brain’s chemicals and hormones, and can stop the hypothalamus from working effectively.
Depleted levels of sunshine change the production of the hormones melatonin and serotonin, and affect the body’s circadian rhythm (which controls biological processes).
The results vary from lethargy and loss of concentration to full-blown depression. SAD in its most extreme form can be profoundly debilitating, but there are things that you can do to fight back. Recognise your symptoms and take action as soon as the nights draw in.
How to beat those blues
- Eat well You may be craving chocolate and starchy foods like pasta and bread, but try to keep up with your five a day to maintain a balanced diet. Victims often suffer a weakened immune system, so healthy foods and vitamin supplements (like Heliocare) can help boost resistance.
- Get active Thirty minutes exercise three times a week can help combat depression. If you work at a desk, try to go for a walk each lunchtime.
- Go outside Even if the weather is bad, get out for some fresh air and welcome daylight – on sunnier days you may also help top up your Vitamin D levels.
- Light therapy If your symptoms are severe, it may be worth investing in a light box. Two hours a day should help keep you topped up and is effective in 85% of cases.
- Socialise Staying in on your own will do nothing to cheer you up. Stay in touch with friends and accept those invites to social gatherings.
- Get help You are not alone. Talk to your GP or visit the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association at sada.org.uk where
even the home page is sunny.
October has become synonymous with Breast Cancer Awareness, and this year there are tons of ways in which you can support this great initiative and satisfy a few retail cravings into the bargain.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Britain (48,000 women and 350 men are diagnosed annually), with around 1,000 deaths a month in the UK. However, with increased funding for research, cure rates are increasing every year and more and more people are now surviving the disease.
To help Breakthrough Breast Cancer, why not treat yourself or a friend to one of these gorgeous beauty products? You will feel good on the inside and out!
(Right) Fake Bake Gift Set, £26.95 (£1 from each sale donated). Set includes flawless self-tan, tinted body glow, lip gloss, application mitt and application gloves. Available from fakebake.co.uk