Ten ways to beat winter blues

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AS winter approaches and the days become shorter, it’s becoming rarer for us to feel our absolute best.
Researchers have been studying the “winter blues” and a more severe type of depression called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, for more than three decades.
They’ve learned about possible causes and found treatments that seem to help most people. Still, much remains unknown about these winter-related shifts in mood.
But despite the sudden changes in weather and a lack of Vitamin D, there are plenty of ways to lift your mood.
We spoke to Jane Barnfield Jukes, a trained psychotherapist and founder of supplements brand Eudeamon, on the best ways to beat those winter blues.


1. Take supplements


Jane said: “We aren’t saying supplements are the only answer, just one of the answers.
“Hence the name – Eudeamon. Aristotle’s word for flourishing or the good life. Broadly speaking he believed that the ingredients necessary for us to flourish and live the good life are, good food/nutrition, physical exercise and well-being, intellectual stimulation,
love/friendship and virtue (helping others). I happen to agree.
“We are joining the trend both in the nootropics and nutraceutical arenas as well as the therapeutic drive for non-medicalisation of the human condition.
” Following the US trend, the number of antidepressant prescriptions in the UK has rocketed to 50 million per year. We believe that pharmaceutical bias has dominated and overshadowed the feasibility of research based non-medical solutions.
“Also, worryingly we have yet to fully understand the long term side effects of many of these drugs.
“The reasons surrounding the prevalence of pharmaceutical interventions are simple: cost.
“Despite the wonderful work within the NHS and the people who serve it, its inability to meet the ever increasing need is also driving prescriptions to epidemic proportions
” For example the average cost of one to one therapy is £240 per month. Compare this with the average price of a prescribed antidepressant at £1.28 per month and it’s not hard to see out what’s going on.”

2. Eat well


Certain foods, like chocolate, can help to enhance your mood and relieve anxiety. Other foods, like candy and carbohydrates provide temporary feelings of euphoria, but could ultimately increase feelings of anxiety and depression.
Be sure to eat plenty of leafy greens, oily fish and serotonin-packed foods such as bananas.
Oats are also an effective mood booster because of their low glycaemic index (GI) – they slowly release energy into the bloodstream, which keeps blood sugar and mood stable (as opposed to providing a rush that dips quickly, leaving you feeling more irritable). They also contain the mood-boosting mineral selenium.


3. Get enough sleep


Sleeping until noon on winter Saturdays feels heavenly, but if you can, try to adhere to a regular sleeping schedule.
Because face it, spending a whole day in bed only makes you feel guilty about all that stuff you should be doing.
Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time.


4. Talk to a trusted friend


Sometimes the best therapy is having a natter with your best friend.
If you’re feeling down in the dumps, speak to someone you love and trust and allow them to provide you with advice and support.


5. Intellectual stimulation – read, listen to music, and learn a hobby


Although it’s tempting to hibernate when it’s dark outside, it’s important to give your mind some intellectual stimulation.
Instead of becoming a full-blown couch potato, pursue a new hobby such as learning the guitar or skiing – or simply make sure you read more books.


6. Seek therapeutic support


If your symptoms are so bad that you can’t live a normal life, see your GP for medical help.
Depression will almost always get worse if you leave it untreated and it’s important to get a formal diagnosis.
Sometimes medication or counselling can help us through the worst times in our life.
Never be ashamed to ask for help.

7. Exercise


A daily walk in the middle of the day could be as helpful as light treatment for coping with the winter blues.
Get a gym membership if that’s what it takes to keep you warm and working out, but you could also try riding your bike to work or running up and down the stairs.


8. Remember to breathe


It sounds silly and plain obvious, but sometimes we just need to remember to BREATHE in times of stress.
Abdominal breathing for 20 to 30 minutes each day will reduce anxiety and reduce stress. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.


9. Avoid drugs, caffeine and alcohol


Maintaining your level of exercise and a healthy balanced diet are great ways to elevate your mood and energy levels throughout the winter months. It is also important to regulate your sleep patterns; avoid sleeping during the day and avoid overindulging in caffeine and alcohol. Smile! Your smile can lift your mood as well as the mood of others.


10. Try to live in the now


Brooding over past failures or betrayals is one way to make you feel well and truly depressed. Try to avoid ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.
When you live in the present you are not worried by what has happened or anxious about what will happen. In the present you can clearly aim at where you would like to be and go for it, living in the present every step of the way and adjusting your actions to stay on target whatever life throws at you.

Psycotherapist Jane Barnfield Jukes is Founder of natural supplement Eudeamon (http://www.eudeamon.com) and Virtual Therapy Service The Practice (http://www.thepractice.co.uk). Eudeamons natural health supplements start at £19.99 and are available from Amazon.co.uk. For a free telephone consultation for therapy, please  call The Practice on 0333 0096 321.

Styletto Mag is a Scottish online magazine that publishes the latest articles on fashion, beauty, travel, food and relationships. The site was founded in August 2011. Styletto Mag is a sleek, easy to access online magazine which features shopping trends, beauty reviews, funny features, and women's lifestyle articles. To contribute or submit articles, send them to editor.styletto@gmail.com.

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