*As seen in Dartford Living Magazine*
I have noticed a definite mood theme with clients over the past couple of weeks. It seems we are now feeling the harsh side to winter; dark mornings and evenings, grey skies and going to work and coming home in the dark. A lack of sunshine or having the opportunity to get out in the sun when it shines for just a few hours a day can often have a greater effect on our wellbeing than we may realise.
As a counsellor in private practice, winter can bring in new clients who present with symptoms of low mood, depression, anxiety and Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D).
So what can you do?
If this sounds like something you are experiencing, it’s important to recognise you’re not alone. In fact, many people struggle in the winter months, including myself and I make no secret of how much I dislike the winter, even with Christmas fast approaching.
There are a number of things you can do to help yourself get through the winter and also manage symptoms of S.A.D.
Lifestyle: Aim to get as much natural sunlight as possible. A walk in a green space, such as fields or natural woodland is a dose of nature’s medicine. Sunlight provides us with much needed vitamin D and naturally boosts our mood. Exercise regularly and manage stress as best as you can.
Light therapy: Invest in a light box to simulate exposure to sunlight. (These can be purchased online but do check it is suitable for S.A.D).
The light produced by the light box simulates the sunlight that's missing during the darker winter months. It's thought the light may improve S.A.D by encouraging your brain to reduce the production of melatonin (a hormone that makes you sleepy) and increase the production of serotonin (a hormone that affects your mood).
Diet and nutrition: Consider speaking with a nutritionist to ensure you are getting the nutrients known to benefit mood and general wellness, such as omega-3 and omega-6.
Supplements: Public Health England (P.H.E) recommend that people in the UK take a daily vitamin D supplement between October and March.
Speak to your GP: Your doctor may refer you for further treatment such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or possibly prescribe anti-depressant medication. It is also worth checking with your GP before taking extra vitamin supplements.
Talking therapies: Counselling to talk about how you’re feeling with a professional in a safe space can be very effective in supporting all of the above. Your counsellor will be able to help you achieve your goals through various techniques.
If you are unsure if counselling could help you, then feel free to take up my free 15 minute, no obligation call to ask me any questions you may have.