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Health Matters - Beating The January Blues

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Health Matters - Beating The January Blues
08 January 2019

Dr Ian Hulme, GP with Meadowside Medical Centre, Congleton and clinical lead for mental health at NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG

 

January is often a month filled with grey skies, empty bank accounts and days that don’t seem to be getting any longer, that’s why it’s often dubbed the most depressing month of the year.

No more so than next Monday, or blue Monday as it’s sometimes known, which is the third Monday in January and said to be the day when ‘the winter blue’ are worst. The medical name for this winter depression is seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

 

If the short, dark days are getting you down, what can you do to feel like yourself again?

  1. Keep active

Research has shown that a daily one-hour walk in the middle of the day could be as helpful as light treatment for coping with the winter blues.

  1. Get outside

Go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, especially on brighter days. Inside your home, choose pale colours that reflect light from outside, and sit near windows whenever you can.

  1. Keep warm

Being cold makes you more depressed. It's also been shown that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half.

  1. Eat healthily

A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy and stop you putting on weight over winter. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Read more about healthy eating at nhs.uk.

  1. See the light

Some people find light therapy effective for SAD. One way to get light therapy at home in winter is to sit in front of a light box.

  1. Take up a new hobby

Keeping your mind active with a new interest seems to ward off symptoms of SAD. It could be anything, such as playing bridge, singing, knitting, joining a gym or keeping a journal.

  1. See your friends and family

Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while.

  1. Talk it through

Talking treatments such as counselling, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you cope with symptoms. Talking therapies (mytalkingtherapies.com) is a local service that helps with this.

  1. Seek help

If your symptoms are so bad that you can't live a normal life, see your GP for medical help.