Beating the Winter Blues


Gloomy days, freezing air, continual rain and dark nights. It can only mean one thing: Winter is here.

The moment the clocks go back it begins, and not even that extra hour of sleep can make it better. There is just something inherently gloomy about looking out of the window at 4.30 and thinking that it will be pitch black in half an hour. Annoyingly, even Christmas and New Year’s Eve cannot shake this mood, despite being two shining beacons of light during six months of blackness. (Do not even get me started on January blues as they are even worse!)

And yet this seasonal depression could be a medical problem. One in 15 Britons becomes depressed in Winter and suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms include feelings of lethargy, depression and lack of appetite. Not only that, but millions more suffer from low spirits during this period. Scientists believe that this feeling is due to the change in the levels of daylight which the body encounters during the winter period.

Alison Kerry, from the mental health charity MIND, says: “With SAD, one theory is that light entering the eye causes changes in hormone levels in the body. In our bodies, light functions to stop the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making us wake up. It’s the high levels of melatonin in SAD sufferers that make them feel lethargic.

But this news is not completely gloomy as there are ways to fight this feeling. More time spent in the daylight can improve the symptoms; even simple steps such as getting outside as much as possible or sitting at a window can help. Diet also plays a role so keep eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to ward off those winter blues. Finally, there is exercise, and no, the walk back from Jesters does not count! Completing thirty minutes of exercise three times a week, especially if it takes place outside,  is an effective way of combating depression as it will boost the mood-regulating hormone serotonin in the brain.

Winter usually makes me chubbier as it is so tempting to climb into bed, put on a film and eat chocolate on a cold, dark evening.  Michael McIntyre’s idea for us to ‘Chub up for Crimbo’ by lying in lifts eating choccie sounds perfect. But instead, to fight off these winter blues, it looks like I’ll be taking the stairs to my lecture on the tenth storey of the maths building. Or I’ll just move to Barbados.


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