Now the clocks have gone back and tonight is Halloween can only mean one thing, winter is on the way, it is now autumn. Despite the unseasonal warm weather the days are getting shorter, less sunlight and Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD for short. Many people about this time of year start to feel down, maybe even depressed, and this is caused by the lack of sunlight of a typical British autumn/winter. For some sufferers it can be quite serious but for as many as 21% of the population it can cause discomfort and is often described as “the winter blues”. There is quite a list of symptoms which I won’t list here but can range from loss of libido, irritability to weight gain due to craving carbohydrates.
Lightboxes are available to provide the sufferer with sufficient light to stave off the symptoms. Hypnotherapy and CBT can also be used to help but if you are a mild sufferer then you may be helped by two simple strategies that are also useful for anyone feeling a little down or wanting a confidence boost.
First the “victory pose” You’ve seen the athlete cross the finish line arms out in a “V”, hands slightly behind their head. It’s something you see in all sports, even blind sports people do it when they win. Even if they’ve been blind all their lives and have never seen anyone else do it. It seems to be our natural body language way of saying “I’m a winner” and not only conveys this to those around us but also to ourselves. Psychologists say striking this pose increases confidence and in my experience, when you feel confident you feel happier. I recommend standing like this for two minutes when you get out of bed and maybe several times a day. I would however find somewhere private, you want cheer yourself up, not be seen as a little weird. The second strategy is to smile. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, force it. Even a forced smile will make you feel better about yourself and so is worth the effort.
These two ideas may not be of great use for the individual who suffers badly from SAD but for those of us who just have the odd down day, or mild symptoms, they can make that bad day become more tolerable or even a good day.