Nothing to be SAD about

Nothing to be SAD about

A reduction in daylight hours during winters add to seasonal affective disorder, writes Dr Aruna Kalra


Winter can be a difficult and annoying time of the year bringing out an entirely different side of you. When you are feeling disheartened or depressed in a seasonal pattern, usually during winter, it is described as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or winter blues.

Less sunlight and chill in temperature drives your spirit low, making you depressed. Sunlight plays an integral role in combating seasonal depression due to decrease in the production of serotonin and melatonin in the body. You will feel more nervous and anxious especially during pregnancy, as it affects expecting mothers more. It is a common problem or disorder that pregnant women face during darker months.

Daylight lets your body know when you should be awake and asleep. More sunshine makes you vigilant and less sunlight makes you sloppy. The true and exact causes of SAD are still unknown.

Most explanations usually link the disorder to the reduction of daylight hours in winter.

In order to get over SAD, people tend to eat more as they have a lack of interest in doing their usual hobbies or exercise regularly because of low energy levels. Days with low physical activity can harshly affect your health and cause extra stress during winters.

Here are some activities you should try and indulge yourself in to get over SAD.

Healthy meals

To get over winter blues and mood swings, one should not opt for food rich in fat, carbohydrates and sugar which results in tiredness and irritable behaviour in the long run. Instead one should go for plant proteins like vegetables, nuts and beans, fruits and whole grains which will provide essential vitamins, minerals and protein to restore energy levels. Plant protein will also help to maintain a healthy weight and lower the risk of cancer. Pregnant women should also include Omega-3 rich fatty acids in their diets, which will not only help in development of the baby’s heart and brain but also help in improving mood swings or SAD.

Indulge in regular exercise

To beat SAD and stay active during winters, everyone should exercise regularly. Don’t be lazy or snuggle in bed the whole day. Exercise will help in strengthening the immune system and will help in maintaining healthy weight.

Soak your body in sun

Sun therapy is best during winters. Winters are usually dark with lesser sunlight making everyone hibernate in their warm blankets. But you be sure to step out and soak in sunlight when it is shining. While going out don’t forget to apply sunscreen.

Be a part of social gatherings

Include yourselves in social gatherings and family groups. It can help boost your mood, divert your mind and will motivate you to do things you enjoy. Make movie or coffee plans with your friends to lighten your mood. Make your mantra, ‘Laugh more and worry less’, to attain a positive attitude.

Proper sleep

Try and sleep for at least seven to eight hours each night to feel refreshed and energised the next day. Getting too much or too less sleep will result in mood swings, memory issues and focus-related problems. Sometimes you might experience mood swings or irritability for more than two weeks. In such a case, consult your doctor at the earliest.

(The author is senior gynaecologist & obstetrician, Mum’s Clinic)

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