Sian Toal - 5 Ways to Avoid Being SAD this Winter!

SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder.

We are very lucky at the moment with a blessing of sunny weather as we head into autumn, a little colder yes, but still dry and sunny. It's quite common to feel a little more down in the dumps as we progress into the colder months and days become shorter. There is a general feeling of being 'in the dark' all the time. When you leave and return from work, then the wetter weather making you feel uncomfortable constantly, then the feeling of the impending cold....SAD is a condition that can make you feel just that. It’s not just about being grumpy, or a bit 'moany'. The effect is on the brain due to lack of natural light and can result in making you feel a bit low. Ways around this to minimise the effects and have a fun, productive autumn into winter would be....

1) To invest in a natural light lamp. This clever device will gradually wake you up with a slow 'sunrise' concept. Rather than a blaring alarm followed by a sharp light being switched on to really annoy you first thing in the morning, you can wake in a way that is more natural and feel like you were meant to wake up rather then being yanked out of bed, shaken upside down and pushed out the door.

2) To coincide with your 'sunrise in a lamp' iPhone owners have a fantastic app called 'Sleep Cycle' which will wake you at your desired time with a gradual music of your choice (believe it or not, the ultra soothing music works...) and you will be awake and be ready to get up without the heart attack. You even get a sleep report on how long you were in deep sleep, how long your total sleep was and you can track it daily to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need.

3) Rather than grow fatter over the colder months, consume good fats to support your training goals and stay mentally healthy. Look to fish oils, omega 3, 6, 9, flaxseed, Udo's oil, all of which can help stave off depressive feelings which SAD can induce. They are proven to help brain function and they also keep skin, hair and nails in tip top condition.

4) Ever felt on a real high after a training session? Of course! You're working to a better body, working at being fitter, stronger, sexier and more confident. However, often your gym routine goes out the window when it gets colder. Hiding your body under layers doesn't mean that you should disregard it until next spring (then have a small panic attack when you see it without the woolly jumper....) exercise can give you the 'feel good' factor as the happy hormones and endorphins are released. You can also feel smug that you're going to look hot all winter, have less of a panic come summer, enjoy feeling guilt free at Christmas lunch while others are hibernating!

5) If the lack of light affects the brain then positive thinking can make all the difference. Sometimes you can't blame the weather, or work, or the dark, or the fact it's cold.  Take ownership of yourself.  When it comes down to it, if you're truthful to yourself, you are the only one responsible for you. If you can't think positive, find inspiration. Like to run? Join a running club. Like the gym? Find a gym buddy or hire a trainer.  Feeling emotionally low? Talk to an expert. Like sport? Find a team. Actually.... kick yourself up the backside and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!! There is little point complaining something isn't right or you're not happy, if you then continue to carry on in the same way.  Remember, if you always do what you've always done, you'll only get what you've always got.

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