Nearly 30 years ago, I walked into my GP appointment and announced that I had SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)! The GP questioned my diagnosis but after listening to the symptoms, agreed with me. As it happened, the practice was expecting 3 SAD lamps (their first ever SAD lamps) to arrive imminently and I was offered the first ‘prescription’ of a 3-month trial. Within a few days of using the lamp, I could feel the fog lifting and increased energy levels. At the time I was a young mum of four very young children, so it was a huge relief when I began to feel more like the Gillian I knew in summer months. I quickly ordered my own lamp and have used one every winter ever since!
30 years on and my winter routine is simply a way of life, but I thought it was worth sharing.
As soon as the darkness begins to creep closer to 8PM, I start using a SAD lamp in the morning/early afternoon. These lamps have become more sophisticated over the years, but the idea remains the same. It involves glancing towards the lamp over a period of time (best to follow the instructions given for each lamp). I also have a Sunrise – Sunset alarm clock which I use during the week. The ‘sun’ rises for 30 minutes before the alarm goes off and there’s a similar process for the ‘sunset’.
Exercise is very helpful to combat the effects of SAD, in addition to getting outside as much as possible during daylight hours. Exercise is often a walk with Sandy but I do also run and cycle. It’s up to you what you choose to do, just get outside (even if it's cloudy)!
SAD can make you crave sugar and carbs, so it’s important to be aware of that and eat a very ‘clean’ diet. Foods that can be very helpful include pumpkin & flax seeds, lentils, spinach, quinoa, Brazil nuts (I’m allergic to nuts, so don’t eat these!) and dark chocolate. Ensure that you are also taking Vitamin D and have Omega-3 in your diet.
Make a plan before winter sets in, to make sure you have social engagements in the diary, activities to go to and reasons to get out as often as possible.
Bergamot, Rose and Lavender essential oils are also particularly beneficial for nurturing us when we are feeling the effects of SAD. These can be diffused, added to a hot bath, or used topically. Please get in touch if you would like to learn more and order essential oils.
Do I always get it right? Definitely not! However, I do try to keep the routine going. In the summer I can be out walking Sandy (my dog) until midnight, but in winter months, I am often tucked up in bed by 9PM (sometimes before!!). In times gone by, we would have hibernated in some way, so I allow myself to follow a mini-hibernation cycle.
Feel free to get in touch if you would like to chat further about any of the above.
Thank you for reading this far! AndBreathe... is a very exciting venture and I am glad you have joined me on the journey!