Beat The Winter Blues
THE BLACKEST OF BLACK DAYS
Christmas has been and gone and the bills are coming. Your January pay cheque has not arrived yet, you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. The weather is bad, your temper foul, the news gets worse by the hour and you can not see a light at the end of the tunnel.
The third Monday in January is the worst day of the year for feeling low, miserable, wretched and depressed. But it does not have to be like that – you can bring the sunshine back into your life and see the world as a glass half full. Want to know how? READ ON ...
This is my action plan to help you beat the winter blues. As the days begin to lengthen, those of you who suffer from seasonal affective disorder or SAD, will breathe a huge sigh of relief. But we’re not out of the woods yet as there are still weeks of going to work in the dark, coming home in the dark and grey dull days between. As well, you will be trying to cope with all the other post Christmas problems.
The number of people suffering from SAD has risen dramatically but now scientists have found out why. As the days shorten, less light enters your eyes and the body produces more of a chemical called melatonin. This hormone prepares us for hibernation – we slow down, gain weight, want to sleep all the time and get depressed.
SAD responds well to treatment with high intensity light so get as much daylight as you can, but if all else fails and the winter blues are affecting you badly, buy a light box to use at home or work - they’re available from Full Spectrum Lighting Ltd. in High Wycombe, Bucks, tel. 01494 526051.
Latest research has shown that the herb Hypericum – St. John’s Wort – (Karma), can be extremely effective in the relief of the depressive symptoms that overwhelm SAD sufferers and other forms of mild to moderate depression. It also helps control the eating binges that lead to even more depressing weight gain.
But, as well as light and St. John’s Wort, good nutrition is essential. The first thing is to avoid the energy robbers. It's bad enough feeling miserable without robbing your body of the little energy you have. Reduce sugar, white flour, cakes, biscuits, sweets and puddings. Cut down on alcohol, caffeine in tea, coffee, chocolate and cola drinks – they interfere with iron absorption. Nicotine deprives you of B vitamins and oxygen. I know it’s hard because feeling depressed makes you want more of them all.
Eat well. You need almonds, apricots, bananas, broccoli, spinach, brown rice, sesame and sunflower seeds, whole meal bread, potatoes, pasta, porridge, eggs, fish, poultry, lean meat and low fat dairy products, together with masses of fresh fruit and salads. Don’t go more than three hours without food.
To cope with the irritability, stress and tension that comes with SAD, try the herb valerian which is nature’s own stress buster.
If you’re suffering from depression, anxiety, SAD or just feeling tired and worn out after months of winter weather, there are herbs and spices which help.
Parsley, thyme, rosemary, mint, sage, horseradish, ginger and cinnamon are all good stimulants, so use them generously in cooking and to make your own teas. Use 2 teaspoons of fresh chopped herb or 1 of dried to a cupful of boiling water. Cover, and leave to stand for five minutes, strain, add a little honey and sip. Mint, rosemary or a half inch of freshly grated ginger will really give you a lift.
You can give your body a boost with natural supplements. Vitamins A, C, E, all the B's, iron and zinc may help as part of your daily regime. Coenzyme Q is an interesting supplement which works like putting a firelighter on the barbecue - it triggers off the chemical reaction which releases energy from food.
For many years I’ve treated SAD sufferers with light boxes and improved diets, but the availability of standardised extracts of the herb Hypericum – St. John’s Wort – has dramatically improved results. Adding St. John’s Wort to the treatment plan is an enormous help to those who are martyrs to this miserable condition which affects them every winter. Adding a daily dose of valerian also helps reduce irritability, anxiety and stress levels. I've known this action plan produce marked improvements in within a few days – and all without side effects.
NB: If you are already taking prescribed medicines for your depression, do check with your doctor before using herbal remedies like St. John’s Wort. Reports of the side-effects of St. John’s Wort have been greatly exaggerated and, compared to prescribed drugs, they’re rare and mostly insignificant. The only real concern is the combination with the blood-thinning drug Warfarin and as long as patients talk to their doctor first, doses can be adjusted to counteract any possible interaction.
SADAssociation, PO Box 989, Steyning, BN44 3HG www.sada.org.uk
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