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SenSpa's Tips on Combating S.A.D

28th Oct 2014

Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) affects many people in the UK. The days get shorter, the weather gets colder and some people will leave for work and return home without seeing daylight at all. Natural light is so important for our mood, skin and bones and without daily exposure we can be left feeling a little low.

If the short days and dark mornings mean you have to endure sleep problems, depression, overeating, loss of concentration, lethargy, anxiety, loss of libido or mood changes, then you could be one of the 7% of people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or if you are putting up with milder symptoms, one of the 17% suffering from sub-syndromal SAD, or, the ‘winter blues’*.

Affecting four times as many women than men**, SAD is particularly prevalent in December, January and February. The disorder is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain linked to the lack of light in the winter months. As light enters the eye, it stimulates nerve impulses to travel to the part of the brain which controls sleep, appetite, mood, temperature and sex drive. With less light entering the eyes in winter months, these functions are affected.

One of the main treatments for SAD is Light Therapy which has been shown to be effective in 85%* of diagnosed cases. Light Therapy involves sitting two to three feet away from a specially designed light box. If the light source is very powerful (10,000 lux) then 30-45 minutes per day is usually sufficient. With less powerful light boxes, 2-3 hours a day are needed. Light boxes cost from £100 upwards and are not available on the NHS. The SAD Association can provide a list of suppliers.

S.A.D symptoms include:

  • Lacking in energy and feeling lethargic
  • Problems sleeping
  • Irritability and anxiety issues
  • Depression
  • Weight gain due to craving carbs and sweet foods

Ways you can help yourself:

  • Accept that you don’t cope as well in the winter and try organising your life accordingly. Try to do the minimum during winter, leaving larger projects to the summer.
  • Make the most of the natural light that’s available by getting outdoors.
  • Consider taking a holiday in January or February to somewhere bright and sunny.
  • Psychotherapy, counselling or any complementary therapy which helps the sufferer to relax, accept their illness and cope with its limitations are extremely useful.
  • Regular massage is an ideal way to help SAD sufferers feel better, besides inducing deep relaxation, it positively affects neurotransmitters such as serotonin which is vital for a good night’s sleep, endorphins which regulate pain and dopamine which affects our ability to feel pleasure. The stress hormone cortisol, is also significantly reduced during massage.

If you’re recognising these symptoms in yourself then we can help you with our top 3 simple tips to combat S.A.D:

1. Make the most of the daylight you do see

Open your curtains as soon as you wake up, even if it’s still dark outside. As the sky gets lighter and you’re moving about getting ready for your day you will absorb the natural light through your window. Another suggestion would be to take a short walk in the morning or exercise first thing outside, this will not only wake you up but exercise releases endorphins which will make you feel happier in your mood. Why not also try going for a short walk on your lunch break? You’ll feel fresh when you return to your work plus, you will get the natural daylight your body is craving!

2. Keep an eye on your diet

Resist temptation when it comes to those carbohydrates and naughty foods. Carbohydrates are good for you but in moderation so if you’re craving them at the wrong time of day, pick up an apricot or apple instead. These fruits can raise your serotonin levels. It’s also important to keep away from caffeine or at least reduce your intake. Caffeine will certainly give you a lift in the mornings however it can also crash your energy levels, making you feel tired, low and in some cases anxious. We would also advice you keep an eye on your alcohol intake too. Many of us thoroughly enjoy a glass of wine or warm, wintery spirit in the evenings however alcohol is a depressant and if you’re already feeling a little low, it could make you feel worse.

3. Make some time for you!

Feeling relaxed and calm can help lighten your mood too. It’s very easy to forget to make time for yourself to just do nothing and recharge. Feeling revitalised will give you more energy, feel happier and ready to battle this wintery period. Spend some time at our spa in Hampshire to de-stress and unwind. We have packages ranging from afternoons, evenings and full spa days to suit your lifestyle or why not experience one of our award winning spa treatments instead?


To book your spa day at SenSpa just call us on 01590 624467 to speak to a member of our team or 

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SenSpas Top 3 Tips on Combating SAD

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