Hope everyone is doing good. I sure am! I was at placement today and it went brilliantly. I adore the school I am at. It never fails to put me in good spirit. Anyway, I woke up this morning quite early, looked out the window and immediately wanted to return to the warmth and comfort of my bed as the outside displayed only darkness, heavy rain and fog. This put me in a slight mood as it felt like the middle of the night and plus, who wants to be awake at 6:45am? In order to make myself feel less like a zombie I made the nicest cup of tea ever (big assumption to make I know, but it was damn good tea!) and put on some Michael Bublé (he never fails to put a smile on my face). By the time I was leaving for placement it had not even brightened up slightly. It felt more like a midnight drive than a trip to school...
... So, once school was finished I was shattered and I just wanted my bed. I also noticed that at 3:30pm it was just as dark as it was that morning, meaning I had not witnessed any daylight at all! Which leads me on to my topic of discussion (finally after my spiel) The winter blues! What causes them and what I feel may be the best ways to deal with them.
Firstly, here comes the biological and psychological aspect:
So, what causes the winter blues?
Research has found that winter blues are caused by the lack of sunlight we receive during these dark months. The consequence of this being the amount of serotonin we produce is greatly reduced. Serotonin is the 'happy' hormone we produce in the brain. Less serotonin = Less happiness :(
As night falls, the substance, melatonin, is produced by our pineal gland which informs our body that it is now night time. Daybreak informs the gland to then stop producing the melatonin. However, during the dark winter days, little light is received to trigger the waking up process.
Before I go any further, I realise that many people suffer more seriously from the winter blues, known as SAD (perfect abbreviation) or Seasonal Affect Disorder, however, these individuals will be more inclined to seek advice from a doctor. I do not suffer from SAD, merely only mild winter blues as most experience, therefore I will be giving my own, non-medical advice which I have found to help cheer me up!
So, what advice do I have to offer?
- Get as much sunlight as you possible can during the day. Sometimes easier said than done, but even a trip to the shops can help!
- I know for me, and for a lot of students out there, the thought of lingering exams, assignments and presentations can put a dampner on the holidays. Don't work your holidays away! Enjoy yourselves! Do a little amount of work each day and you won't feel as stressed for leaving it all to the last minute.
- Have a long and relaxing bubble bath (I'm talking to the guys out there as well) and have an early night. It is normal that people want more sleep during winter therefore it's good to get into a good sleeping routine.
- Make sure you are warm. Being out and about is bound to give you a nose like Ruldolph, so when you get indoors, put on your most comfortable house clothes/pyjamas and slippers etc. and wrap a warm blanket around you. Sitting in front of a lovely fire I find works best for me. Treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate (the hot chocolate you make with milk, not water :D ) This always helps me when I'm sad.
- Try to avoid alcohol as much as possible (unless we are talking parties and social gatherings of course). Alcohol restricts the blood flow therefore this can result in you feeling colder. Speaking of alcohol though, the odd brandy does help you to warm up!
- Getting plenty of excercise can also help to improve your mood and reduce you levels of stress. An hour a day really does have great advantages for your mood. Take a walk with a friend, go to the gym or have a snowball fight! Any kind of excercise will only bring benefits.
- The approaching holiday means glorious food will soon be on offer. Christmas cake, pudding, Roses, Quality Street, Shortbread and much more! It is, however, best to try and eat as healthy as possible during the winter. It's beneficial to eat foods that are naturally carbohydrated such as pasta, rice and fruits (especially oranges!). Crackers, potatoes, vegetables and whole grain bread are also good options. Eating foods high in Vitamin D mean an increase in the amount of serotonin produced. Vitamin D = Happy face :D No-one is going to stick to the rules (I certainly won't), but try your best to maintain a balanced diet. It will definitely help with depression.
- It's coming up to Christmas therefore you have to remember that it's all about the excitement of the holidays! If you are away from home, then look forward to going home and seeing all of your loved ones again. Spend quality time with your family, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends and relatives and simply enjoy the company. Take a trip into town with friends, go to the cinema, watch DVD's, go shopping etc... the list is endless! I know some people do enjoy their own company at times, but nobody wants to be alone during these months. Embrace the people around you! :) Laughing and chatting can always help to put a smile on your face.
P.s - Listen to Michael Jackson - 'Smile' (music originally composed by the wonderful and talented Charlie Chaplin)