By Gill Stewart at
November is here and despite a mild October, the chill has arrived with it. It’s easy to allow the shorter grey days of November descend around you like a cloud of Autumn fog, driving you to sit by the fire as you reach for those carb rich snacks. However, if you understand this phenomenon which is called Seasonal affected disorder (S.A.D) and are ready to tackle it head on, you will learn to embrace the Winter and feel better than ever!
You will suddenly find yourself noticing things around you (like these frosty spider webs), enjoying the bracing fresh air and even laughing at the mud and puddles! The best thing of all though is the feeling when you get back home and know you have done wonders for your mind and body and that it was actually ……. really enjoyable!
What is seasonal affective disorder?
In essence it is a type of depression that typically occurs as the winter closes in and eases as the days lengthen and spring approaches
The symptoms are similar to all low mood/mental health conditions and that’s why it’s important to recognise it and not let it spiral out of control. Curling up by the fire is a treat now and then but days of not moving enough or getting outside will take their toll on your health and also drive you to make poor food choices too.
As much as your brain may tell you not to get up and go for a walk, your body and body (and brain) will certainly feel so much better if you do. Every day on our group walks we hear people saying ” I nearly didn’t come today but I am so glad I did!”
It really does help to go walking with others as one of the key symptoms of SAD is a tendency to feel less sociable and also to gain less pleasure or joy from everyday experiences. Once out on your walk, you will start to feel the power of nature work it’s magic as well as the mood boosting effects of exercise coupled with the amiable companionship of like minded people. It really is the perfect tonic and will soon have you looking forward to the joy of walking in November – seriously, there is nothing like a bright crisp winters day or an ethereal mist like this one taken near our HQ in Dorset but you have to venture out to catch them
Our tips for warding off S.A.D are simple…………
1 Get outside every day, ideally for a walk with others at least twice a week. Look for a variety of routes and interesting walks that make the most of the area near you- a good Instructor will naturally do this
2. Add some strength exercises to really help boost your metabolism and if you struggle with motivation, choose a group where there is a qualified instructor who can provide exercise drills,progression and motivation
3. Take a daily dose of vitamin D as there is less available from the sunshine at this time of year and it also helps the immune system ward off winter bugs
4. Get some outdoor clothing that is comfy and you enjoy wearing. No need to be drab with the styles available these days and our Members enjoy discounts in all major outdoor stores so no excuse! A bright hat and gloves and you are good to go.
5. Maybe explore daylight lamps that provide light therapy which replicates sunlight. Some mirror a natural dawn and help you to wake up naturally as if it is a Summers day (without the bird song)
6. Our final tip is a vital one – try to avoid the cravings for sugar and carbs that can kick in at this time of year. Eating fresh foods does not have to mean boring and cold salads. Explore ‘RAINBOW foods’ as you do need a variety of fresh fruit and veg of all colours in your diet to stay healthy- try buying a selection and tasking yourself to use them up every week. It’s actually quite easy to add them to traditional recipes to boost your intake.
We actually covered this topic in our last on line nutrition workshop – Lunchtime with Lucie which is on every Wednesday at 12.30 from our HQ. If you need some support and inspiration around your winter diet, feel free to join our nutritional therapist for some simple ways to eat well (it’s free for walkers who pay their local groups by direct Debit and only £5 to join in otherwise see HERE for a range of workshops and on line classes to add to your weekly regime.
If you are feeling really low and struggling to motivate yourself to follow these tips – chat to your GP or Friends/Family – you are definitely not alone and there are ways to brighten your winter days.
Don’t put it off until the New Year or the Spring before you get out and get active as you could be a few pounds heavier by then and the first step could be even harder to take!
Corinne got started with her local group this week and it looks like she’s set for an enjoyable, active winter……………………..
My first walk with my local Instructor Gilly today and it was fabulous. Loads of hills that tested me, great company and scenery and fungi. Plenty of laughter and Gilly kept us all on our toes suddenly diverting us onto different paths. Definitely a walk I want to do again. Thank you to Gilly, the 2 Anne’s and Bronwyn for making me so welcome
That says it all! Thanks Corinne.