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Why You're Feeling SAD & What To Do About it

There is no denying the weather all over New Zealand has been pretty mixed lately. If you're from Central Otago like me... you'll have been enveloped in the 'inversion' layer, which blocks our usual blue skies with a layer of fog.

Why does this phenomenon make you feel quite so rubbish?

A number of factors. Some of which are within our control and some of which aren't.

As the cold months cast their grey shadow, SAD stealthily creeps in, bringing along a cascade of symptoms that can dampen our spirits.

In this article, we will delve into what SAD truly entails, explore its effects on our well-being, and discover scientifically-backed strategies to combat its grip.

SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder

Understanding SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder, scientifically recognised as SAD, is a form of depression that typically descends upon us during the autumn and winter seasons. It's as if a gloomy cloud blankets our existence, casting a shadow on our joy and vitality.

Seasonal Affective Disorder has been studied more and more in recent years. Even without an inversion layer you're likely to feel down at this time of year. The shorter days (that are now only getting longer). The lack of Vitamin D from the sunshine. Lack of social interaction compared to other times of the year. They all play a part.

The Inversion Layer

The inversion layer makes this whole phenomenon worse. Why? So many reasons. We absorb Vitamin D both through our skin and also our eyes. Not seeing the sun for a number of days on end means we're likely severely lacking this essential Vitamin that is essential in the production of Serotonin and also Dopamine... aka our happy hormones.

It does however have a deeper behavioural layer to it.

It makes us not want to go outdoors, not want to exercise and move our body. It makes us less likely to socialise.

Time outside, moving our bodies and connecting with people are crucial to human happiness. The inversion layer or SAD may be the gun held to our head saying "don't go out it's grim" but as humans, we are the ones pulling the trigger on our winter low, by forgetting how crucial these factors are to enjoyment of life.

Levers You Can Pull Today To Overcome SAD

- Eat good food that includes protein and fats - these will help stabilise your mood and energy levels and fuel your hormones. Steer clear of heavy carbohydrates and sugar that will cause your mood to peak and trough.

- Get outside regardless of how you feel - giving the eyes a break from screens, getting some fresh air and moving your body WILL give you a mood boost, far beyond sitting indoors.

- Use this time of the year to sleep as much as possible. As tempting as it may be to spend an extra hour watching Netflix or scrolling your phone. Remember your body needs as much energy as it can get - give it time to recoup and recover.

- Keep socialising! No you don't have to go out to the pub or clubbing every night, but make sure you are keeping in touch with friends and try not to hibernate more than you usually would. Enjoyment of your own company and time with the family is a beautiful benefit of this time of year. But make sure you aren't withdrawing from everything at the detriment of your own mood.

Want to get deeper?

- Eat foods with plenty of Vitamin D - foods like fatty fish, salmon, tuna, sardines and egg yolks.

- Vitamin D is a fat soluble Vitamin so make sure you enjoy these foods alongside fats if they don't already include them.

- Hit up the Infrared Sauna (I recommend City Cave in Queenstown for any locals) - the infrared sauna and light therapy delivers a serious boost of happy hormones that we're all lacking. It also makes you feel warm...and kick starts your detox processes from the inside out.

- Easier than that - drive somewhere sunny if you can! Get some winter sunshine in your eyes and spend as much time in it as possible.

- LED desk lamps are also coming into popularity although I don't think there have been huge amounts of studies on it just yet. Worth considering.


Vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids control serotonin synthesis and action, part 2: relevance for ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and impulsive behavior

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