Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Winter Blues

I love winter, particularly here in Australia where a winter's day can often mean a brilliant blue sky and a very pleasant 18 degrees centigrade (64 F). Colder doesn't worry me either. I don't mind the shorter, darker days. I do miss snow. I have great memories of growing up in Britain with snow every winter season (although it's that common any more) and even better ones thanks to the odd Gluehwein too many during my time living in Germany.

Not everyone takes pleasure in winter though and, for some, winter can be a challenging time. Around one in three hundred Australians suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), characterised by depression, fatigue, changes in appetite and withdrawal from family and friends.

SAD is thought to result from a lack of sunlight and is a very common disorder in countries nearer to the Poles, where winter days are characterised by long periods of darkness. The lack of sunlight is thought to affect the body's natural sleep/wake rhythms. Many people benefit from light therapy and special lamps can be bought for home use.

Other strategies for keeping away the winter blues include:

Keeping active.

Exercise has been shown to improve mood. Some mornings it can be hard to move out from under the warm covers but your body will thank you for it (or so I keep trying to convince mine).

Eating well.

The winter temperatures have me reaching for the comfort food....ah, a nice stew and dumplings...jam roly poly......but while the occasional cold weather treat isn't a bad thing, it's important to keep upa regular intake of fruit and vegetables.

Sleeping well.

Keeping to a regular bedtime and getting up at a similar time each day helps promote better sleep quality so you'll wake up more refreshed and have more energy for the day ahead.

Any winter coping strategies you'd like to share?


chris said...

I have to ask...what the heck is jam roly poly?!?!! I used to be called roly poly when I was a kid...!

psychgrad said...

Chris - My grandmother makes roly poly. I don't know if it's made of jam...I think she puts prunes in. I think she rolls out dough and puts the prune mixture on top and then rolls it up. She is going to teach me (or so she says).

HP - I am definitely affected by the short days in the winter. At the moment, I'm trying to appreciate the long days but somehow the long days of the summer seem to go by much faster than the short days of the winter.

Dr. Deb said...

I actually have a bluelight that I keep during the winter season here in the States. It helps with my SAD.

And what exactly is jam roly poly? I gotta know!

HP said...

Ah, the jam roly poly was a staple of British school dinners, a kind of suet roll with jam filling, rolled up and then covered with copious amounts of thick (often lumpy) custard. Very good comfort eating in the cold weather.

Hi Chris. Roly poly? No way!

Hi Psychgrad...prunes? I might found that a challenge. I, in contrast, am revelling in the short days of winter..not because of the shortened light, just the cooler temps, because the hot weather is a challenge.

Hi Deb,
I've heard that such lamps are very beneficial. Do you happen to have a source for them you could list?