Those of you who live in warm countries won’t understand this article at all. But believe me, it’s a big annual problem in the UK and other cold climates!

Every Winter I get SAD, which stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

In places like Alaska, it’s known as Cabin Fever.

Although the two are interchangeable, they are slightly different.

A lot of people get SAD in the Winter, but Cabin Fever is more likely to be caused by isolation, like in Alaska, Norway, and other Scandinavian countries when they’re completely snowed in for months at a time with very few daylight hours.

I usually get it at the end of January, when I used to sit down and burst into tears. But I don’t do that any more as I’m adjusted to coping with it. And we usually book an early holiday to somewhere hot, so I have that to look forward to.

But this year it started earlier, at the end of November. I don’t understand why as we had a late Indian Summer, with warm sunny days.

Some of the symptoms are;

  • Restlessness
  • Lethargy
  • Sadness or depression
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of patience
  • Food cravings
  • Decreased motivation
  • Social Isolation
  • Difficulty waking
  • Frequent napping
  • Hopelessness
  • Changes in weight
  • Inability to cope with stress

I’m glad I found this list as it does explain a lot of my behaviour and feelings lately.

If I sit down, I fall asleep, even if I’m leaning on my arm. This can happen several times a day. And then I don’t sleep well at night, and find it hard to get motivated in the mornings, especially when it’s dark outside! It’s a vicious circle.

I’m OK with food cravings during the day, and I’m usually busy, but in the evenings I crave for nibblies, especially for chocolate or something sweet.

Why? I seriously believe that my body often tells me what I need.

Chocolate (in moderation) has been proved to be good for the heart, circulation and brain. You should look for chocolate with a cocoa percentage of around 70%.

Chocolate can of course be used in different ways, in cakes, drinks, and as a glaze for meat.

And it really is good for your wellbeing.

What can we do to fight off the symptoms of SAD?

Have a word with your pharmacist and get them to recommend some vitamin tablets.

If your symptoms are more serious and affecting your life, go and have a chat with your Doctor. They can prescribe higher doses than you can buy over the counter.

But under no circumstances must you let them prescribe anti-depressants!

My Doctor wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing, but there are some unscrupulous Doctors out there who will write a prescription for anything, just to get the commission, which is why anti-biotics have caused more problems than they’ve cured.

Your diet is very important at all times, but especially in the Winter. And when I say Diet, I don’t mean Diet, if you see what I mean! Avoid womens’ magazines that give you advice to be a New You, complete with glamorous photos. It’s not the right time for cutting down on what you eat. And they add to your depression.

Remember, they’re Models, not normal people! And possibly the photos have been touched up too.

In Alaska they eat a lot of animal fat because they desperately need the protein. And have you ever seen an obese Alaskan? I haven’t.

Up until recently, nobody would dream of leaving the house without eating a breakfast as a meal, not just nibbling on something. A full fried breakfast was common, or at least a bowl of porridge. But people weren’t obese. They burnt off the calories, so they needed a hearty breakfast.

Have you heard the saying, Fat people never eat breakfast.

So how do we avoid putting on weight? Mother Nature wants us, and all animals to put on weight. It’s our bodies helping us to survive.

A bowl of nourishing soup is a good idea. It warms you up right through, and fills you up too.

Make a big potful which will last for several days and you can heat some up when you fancy it.

When you crave something sweet, there’s a lot that you can eat that will do you good. Choose fresh fruit, or a few dates. Or have a glass of orange juice.

Avoid crisps, chocolate biscuits and junk food. Some of them have chemical additives that make you feel even hungrier. And try to avoid alcohol, or at least limit the amount you drink. It can make you feel even sorrier for yourself!

Forget Spring Cleaning. Get down to doing all those household chores now! Put some music on while you’re working.

And what about the loft and the shed? Have a good clearout and get everything ready to give to a charity shop, or to sell when the car boot sales start again, usually after Easter.

Plan your days ahead. Go out as much as you can. Wrap up warm and go for it, even if you just stroll around the garden for 15 minutes! We need the fresh air.

If it snows, we always go outside with some of our neighbours and build a huge snowman. Then we all go for a walk as we feel happy and don’t want to go indoors yet.

Go and mix with other people if you can, as being alone for too long isn’t good for you if you’re feeling tired and down in the dumps.

On the other hand, avoid ‘down in the dumps’ people as they can make you feel worse, moaning on about themselves!

There’s nothing wrong with curling up with a coffee or a hot chocolate and a good book for a couple of hours.

You could learn something that you’ve always intended to do, like a foreign language, painting and drawing, or advanced computer work.

Remember that you’re not alone and your symptoms are quite natural.

We’re all going through it, and soon people will be moaning about the heat!