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Health Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
We’ve likely all been hit by the winter blues. That dull, groggy feeling that washes over you
and keeps you in bed, tired and unmotivated.
For sufferers of mental illnesses like anxiety and depression, the weather and the seasons
can often affect the severity of their illnesses. This can often be linked to SAD – seasonal
affective disorder. SAD is a form of depression derived from seasonal changes, which
means that you can feel fine for most of the summer, but feel very low for most of the
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the sun has a huge part to play in all of this. We need natural sunlight for vitamin D and a healthy immune system, but it also does wonders for mental health. Spending time in the sun aids the release of serotonin – a neurotransmitter that produces the feeling of happiness. Yes, being in the sun can make you happy. Along with serotonin, sunlight also contributes to the release of melatonin, which aids restful sleep.
Whilst also affecting your mental health directly, sunlight affects your physical health too, making you feel better all round. Although we all know that spending extended periods of time in the sun can be dangerous in some instances, taking a little bit of time out of every day to spend outdoors in the sun can really make a positive difference. You will take in more vitamin D which will boost your immune system and strengthen your bones, decrease your diastolic blood pressure and make you more alert which helps concentration. You’ll feel better as a whole too – sunlight is a natural mood elevator so it’s perfect for an emotional pick-me-up.
In the middle of a global pandemic, it’s normal to become bored and develop low moods.
According to TIME magazine, it’s speculated that our modern lifestyle that keeps people
indoors under artificial lights for hours creates more cases of SAD anyway, so it’s not
unusual to realise that nationwide lockdown has played its part here too.
However, thinking about it positively, it’s a brilliant opportunity to spend more time
outdoors and enjoy nature more. Aim to spend at least 15 minutes a day outside and
perhaps consider taking your hobbies out there too, like reading, painting and writing. The
increased levels of serotonin will do you good – and make trudging through the rest of
lockdown a lot less drab.