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How to beat the dark-days blues

Lots of people get depressed in winter, or suffer from “the winter blues”. 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?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern.

SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter.

A few people with SAD may have symptoms during the summer and feel better during the winter.

Symptoms of SAD

Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • a persistent low mood
  • a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • irritability
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
  • sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
  • craving carbohydrates and gaining weight

For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities.

When to see a GP

You should consider seeing a GP if you think you might have SAD and you’re struggling to cope.

The GP can carry out an assessment to check your mental health. They may ask you about your mood, lifestyle, eating habits and sleeping patterns, plus any seasonal changes in your thoughts and behaviour.

What causes SAD?

The exact cause of SAD is not fully understood, but it’s often linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days.

The main theory is that a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect the:

  • production of melatonin – melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy; in people with SAD, the body may produce it in higher than normal levels
  • production of serotonin – serotonin is a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep; a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is linked to feelings of depression
  • body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) – your body uses sunlight to time various important functions, such as when you wake up, so lower light levels during the winter may disrupt your body clock and lead to symptoms of SAD

It’s also possible that some people are more vulnerable to SAD as a result of their genes, as some cases appear to run in families.

Treatments for SAD

NICE recommendations

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that SAD should be treated in the same way as other types of depression.

This includes using talking treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or medicine such as antidepressants.

Light therapy is also a popular treatment for SAD, although NICE says it’s not clear whether it’s effective.

Things you can try yourself

There are a number of simple things you can try that may help improve your symptoms, including:

  • try to get as much natural sunlight as possible – even a brief lunchtime walk can be beneficial
  • make your work and home environments as light and airy as possible
  • sit near windows when you’re indoors
  • take plenty of regular exercise, particularly outdoors and in daylight
  • eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • if possible, avoid stressful situations and take steps to manage stress

It can also be helpful to talk to your family and friends about SAD, so they understand how your mood changes during the winter. This can help them to support you more effectively.

Content provided by the NHS

How to beat the dark-days blues

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If you’re one of the many people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD), you probably weren’t celebrating your free “extra” hour when you made the Daylight Savings switch recently. Instead, you were probably wondering how to cope now that we’re in the days of waking up in the dark and coming home from work in the dark.

Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, plenty of us start to feel draggy and lackluster after enough gray days and early nights. So what can you do to combat the gloom?

Here are some ways to beat the dark-days blues:

Take extra-good care of yourself.

When you don’t feel your physical best, it can be even harder to feel emotionally well. Help your mood by keeping yourself in good health. Get enough sleep at night, make sure to eat healthy, balanced meals, and find a regular exercise plan that works for you. Also keep yourself protected against seasonal illness by getting a flu shot, washing your hands frequently, and keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer at your desk to avoid office germs.

Keep your surroundings bright.

Make sure the rooms in your house are properly lit. If there are any dim spots, consider adding another table or floor lamp. At work, if your overall office environment is dark, get a lamp for your desk to make your personal area brighter.

Get outside whenever you can.

Whenever the weather permits, spend some time outside. Take your dogs for a walk, play a game with your kids, or just enjoy sitting in the fresh air for a little while. Even if the day is overcast, outdoor light can still make you feel better—not to mention the fact that just getting out into nature after being stuck indoors can cheer you up, too.

Try light therapy.

There’s a reason we feel brought down by the cold months, apart from the monotony of gray skies and long evenings. Human beings absorb vitamin D through exposure to UV-B rays found in sunlight—and when we’re not getting as much sunlight every day, it can result in feelings of depression and lack of energy.

Light boxes mimic the light you’d receive from the sun, which can affect the chemicals in your brain that regulate mood. Just sitting a few feet away from a light box for half an hour each day can help improve SAD symptoms. (Check with your health care provider for specific instructions, as they often advise you do light therapy during certain periods of the day.) Light boxes can be a little pricey, but if they can improve your daily mood and energy levels over the long, dark months, it’s worth it.

Take natural supplements.

Melatonin is believed to help treat the symptoms of SAD by regulating your sleep-wake cycle, which can be disrupted when daylight hours get shorter. (Again, you may need to take melatonin at specific points of the day for it to be most effective, so check with your physician.) Vitamin D supplements can also help replenish the nutrients you’re no longer getting from sunlight.

Exercise.

I know; it may feel like the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling blah, but regular physical activity can actually give you more energy by getting you up off the couch and moving. It’s also a great way to work out some negative emotions. Try something fun and peppy like Zumba to lift your mood, something calming like yoga to relieve stress and center your thoughts, or something like kick boxing to release pent-up anger and frustration.

Avoid alcohol.

Not only does it slow you down and make you feel more groggy, but also (as anyone who’s nursed a breakup over a bottle of wine can tell you) alcohol can just enhance your negative feelings and make you feel even worse.

See your doctor if your feelings are too much.

The symptoms of SAD are very similar to the symptoms of depression, so if your mood continues to worsen or you start to have thoughts of hopelessness or suicide, seek professional help immediately. You may need to be put on medication to help regulate your moods and might also benefit from counseling.

If you’re in doubt whether you should seek help or not? Always opt for “yes.”

Featured photo credit: Cracked land and the lightning via Shutterstock

How to beat the dark-days blues

1. Turn on your lights as soon as your alarm goes off—trying to get ready for work in the dark will only make you sleepier and more sluggish.

2. Wake up to the smell of coffee. Set your coffeemaker to turn on a few minutes before you rise and breathe in the irresistible scent.

3. Bundle up and take a walk during lunch. The artificial light you’re under all day is no substitute for the real thing. Getting out and actually soaking up whatever sun you can while breathing fresh air will lift your spirits.

4. Make happy hour pacts. It can be so easy to run home straight after work, but parking yourself in front of the TV or Facebook every night will only depress you. Agree to meet your friends once a week for drinks.

5. Have before-dinner sex. Is there any better way to take advantage of the last hour of daylight?

6. Take a vitamin D supplement, which has mood-enhancing benefits. In the colder months, you just can’t get enough naturally from the sun’s rays.

7. Re-decorate. When it’s grey outside, make it bright inside. Add splashes of color to your home with poppy lamps and pillows. Or, if you’re feeling especially adventurous, paint your walls yellow for maximum happiness infusion.

8. Pick up a few buds from a local shop to display in your apartment for some much-needed freshness and a little life.

9. Plan a mini outdoor getaway. Don’t spend your days off inside and waste daylight you can enjoy. Go sledding or explore a nearby town and check out the holiday window displays, which are usually great this time of year.

10. Have a romantic dinner by candlelight. Take advantage of the darkness and turn your apartment into the ultimate sultry escape. We don’t need to tell you what happens next.

Do the chilly, gloomy days of winter make you want to curl up under the covers and stay there until the sun shines again? You’re not alone. During our dark and rainy Pacific Northwest winters, we get less of the mood-boosting help of sunlight, which may set the stage for the winter blues. What can you do to beat the blues when the short, dark days are getting you down?

Overcoming the winter blues

Here are 8 ideas to get past the winter blues recommended by Kaiser Permanente physician Amado Daylo, MD (Assistant Medical Director of Behavioral Health Services).

1. Exercise

Bundle up for a walk, swim indoors, or head to the gym. Exercise can work as well as antidepressants (drugs to control a person’s mood) in fighting mild-to-moderate depression.

2. Check your vitamin D levels

Sunlight is a source of vitamin D, a nutrient linked to sharper thinking and better emotional health. Check with your doctor about whether a vitamin D supplement is right for you.

3. Get some light therapy

Give yourself every opportunity for daylight, such as placing exercise equipment or your work area near a window. Lamps that simulate natural light can also help.

4. Eat a healthy diet

Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains can boost your energy and are vital year round. Fruits and veggies of deep green or orange, like broccoli, kale, and carrots, have nutrients that promote better mood and total health.

5. Stimulate your senses

Some people find that painting their walls a bright color — or even their nails — can improve their outlook. Scents can add to your feeling of well-being; try peppermint essential oil or some other energizing scent.

6. Nurture your spirit

Slow down and curl up in a cozy chair with a good book or write in your journal.

7. Head to a sunnier climate

If time and budget allow, plan a midwinter visit to a warmer, sunnier climate.

8. See a therapist

A therapist can help you train your brain to think more positively, which can also make you feel better physically.

Feeling extra depressed during winter?

If you feel more than just a little down each winter, with symptoms such as missing work or struggling with even simple day-to-day tasks, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or winter depression. For some people, the lack of sunlight upsets the body’s ability to keep its complex chemistry and biological rhythms in sync; the body doesn’t know when to be active and when to rest anymore. If you’re trying to help yourself feel better but it isn’t working, you might want to see your doctor who could recommend other treatments.

How to beat the dark-days blues

As the days get darker and trees shed their leaves, health experts expect a higher than normal number of people will experience seasonal depression this year given pandemic restrictions are limiting connections with friends and family.

“With the pandemic and everything that has happened this year, there will be an increase in people experiencing seasonal affective disorder,” said Man Bath, CEO and clinical director of Richmond-based MindRight Counselling and Consulting. “We have not been able to go outside as much as in the summer to help us cope and re-energize.”

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in late fall and early winter when there is less sunlight, before dissipating during spring and summer.

SAD, however, is more than just the “winter blues,” according to Shawna Medley, director of Mental Health Services at Trinity Western University. Symptoms can be extremely distressing, overwhelming and can interfere with daily functioning, she added.

“People with SAD experience mood changes and symptoms similar to major depression such as feeling sad or hopeless, having low energy, losing interests in activities you once enjoyed, having difficulty concentrating, and it also often includes hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness), overeating and social withdrawal — people feel like hibernating,” said Medley.

The exact cause of SAD remains unknown, but research has given some biological clues. People with SAD have trouble regulating serotonin, also called the “happy molecule,” which helps people feel good about life.

SAD occurs more often in women and is more common in people with a personal or family history of depression, noted Bath.

How to fight off the “winter blues?”

SAD can be effectively treated with light therapy, antidepressants, counselling or a combination of these, explained Medley. Although symptoms will generally improve on their own with the change of season, spring may feel like a long way away right now and symptoms can improve more quickly with treatment, she added.

“I would encourage everyone vulnerable to SAD to use the dark days of winter to try something new — snowshoeing, cooking differently, visiting parks you’ve never been to before or learning to play a musical instrument, for example,” said Medley. “Sometimes novelty and a sense of accomplishment can help combat low mood.”

Strategies to alleviate SAD:

1: Light therapy: Take advantage of any available natural sunlight or get a light therapy lamp. Exposure to a light lamp with at least 10,000 lux of cool-winter fluorescent light for 20-60 minutes can help.

2: Journaling: Being able to get thoughts and feelings out from your mind and onto paper is a way to externalize thought distortions and negative emotions.

3: Develop an activity board: Write a list of all possible activities you can do either by yourself or with loved ones. Focus on activities that unplug from screens to focus on yourself, such as a walk or reading.

4: Mindful breathing: We often forget to pause and focus on the present moment. There are many forms of guided meditation and breathing techniques online to decrease stress in the body.

5: Have a goal every day/week: We need to have something to accomplish each day or week to keep us motivated and engaged. It doesn’t matter if the goal is small; completing something can create a spark.

6: Find a therapist to talk to: If you feel you have no one to talk to or don’t want to burden your family or friends, connect with a therapist to share your feelings and thoughts in-person or through telehealth.

January can be a difficult month for lots of people. Once the excitement of Christmas and New Year has died down, many of us are left without any money and feeling quite glum. Here are the 5 ways I am going to beat the January blues – Hopefully they will help you too!

How to beat the dark-days blues

5 ways to beat the January blues

1. Focus on a hobby

If you’ve been around for a while and remember my first ever post on ‘Being Chloe’ (Here), you will know that the whole reasoning behind creating this blog was to give me something positive to focus on. Some of you might think that avoidance is not the best way to deal with any feelings, but for me, it really helps. If you read my 2020 goals you will know that I am hoping to be much more organised with my blog this year and I think it’s really going to help me focus on my blog and get more content out there for you guys! This month, I am going to properly focus on blogging, with 2 new posts every week to keep me busy and make Being Chloe the best it can be! I am proud of what I have achieved so far with this blog, and I am excited about the direction in which it is heading.

*Check out how I’m keeping my blog organised with a FREE editorial content calendar – here*

Of course, not all of you are bloggers like myself, so instead you could focus on a hobby you currently have or get a new one! I’m trying to exercise more in 2020 and so joining the gym is a great distraction from the miserable month that is January!

2. Long walks and exercise

As I said, one of my 2020 goals is to exercise more – got to release those endorphins, get healthier and it’s also fun! Long walks are great to clear your head and getting exercise at the same time. Often in January, we don’t like to leave the house due to the cold weather and dark days. But even a 10-minute walk to get some fresh air and natural light is great to beat those January blues. Even better, if you have a dog you could take them for a walk! I love walking my dog Millie, as seeing her little tail wag always cheers me up!

How to beat the dark-days blues

Long walks to clear my mind in Pai, Thailand

3. Read more

I used to absolutely adore reading, but somehow over the years, I’ve found that unless I am by a pool, I am reading less and less. Reading is a great way to give you something to do, so I’m going to try and set aside some time each week to have some me-time with a good book. I’m thinking about joining Goodreads to keep track of how many books I’ve read – let me know in the comments if you would recommend this!

How to beat the dark-days blues

Settle down with a good book!

4. Keeping things tidy

With it being a new year, I thought this was the perfect time to declutter my room and make it much neater! I now love spending time writing my posts in my room, and with the addition of a couple of (read: a lot of) fairy lights, it is very relaxing to be in here. This is something that is very easy to do, and you know what they say ‘Tidy room, Tidy mind’! I also always to try and declutter my makeup collection as this causes me to be less stressed when I know exactly what I have – it also saves me money as I reuse old products I’d forgotten about- try and do this every so often to keep your makeup organised! You could also do the same to your wardrobe – donate to a charity, re-purpose clothes to not let things go to waste.

How to beat the dark-days blues

My makeup storage

*I try and keep my makeup collection organised in my Ikea malm dressing table – here*

5. Be more organised with money

Now, I am 100% aware that this is easier said than done, especially after Christmas … January Payday seems a million miles away I’m sure! This year I’m trying to plan how I spend my money and make sure I stick to a budget so that I can slightly ease the money woes this month. I use Monzo to track my spends and set budgets but I’m sure other banks also do this too! Write down your budget and plan how much you will spend per day on groceries, travel, socialising etc. A lot of people bury their head in the sand when it comes to money, and honestly, I do that too, but this year I want to fully take control of my bank account!

What are you doing to beat the January blues? Do you have any tips for staying positive? How are you beating the January Blues? Comment below!

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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — As the latest stay-at-home order begins to take effect in counties across the Bay Area, we are hunkering down for what will be the most unusual holiday season.

The new stay at home order will mean big changes to holiday traditions: No going shopping for gifts with family with retail capacity cut, year-end celebrations with co-workers won’t be the same with outdoor dining over for 2020, and the entire family won’t be gathering to open presents under the tree as we avoid mixing households.

How do we manage so much change?

“(You) don’t have to like it, but just accept the limitations and sometimes when we accept the limitations of our situation we can then see solutions and opportunities,” said Christine Garcia, PsyD, San Francisco Regional Director, Edgewood Center for Children and Families.

If survival mode was getting us through the first few months of the pandemic, mental health experts agree that we will need to dig deeper to survive the rest of the year.

Dr. Garcia, a clinical psychologist, is encouraging us all to be more compassionate to ourselves and others, especially kids separated from friends.

“Have room for your kids to feel upset. Have room for yourself to feel upset and make space for joy and hope,” said Garcia.

She encourages parents to monitor screen time in their kids, but suggests maybe easing up on restrictions if your child is partaking in engaging content that keeps them connected.

While we stay away from elderly relatives to keep them physically safe, she said it’s important to check-in on their emotional well-being and monitor changes in their, and our own, behavior as much as we can.

“Are you drinking too much? Are your kids having trouble getting out of bed? Are they overeating? Are you overeating? What are some of the things that are kind of moving outside of baseline?” she said. “If that happens, when that happens, it doesn’t mean all is lost. It just means you need to reach out for help. That could be to other people to friends, it could be to crisis centers.”

She is also encouraging her clients, no matter your religious practices, to remember the reason behind the holiday season.

“(Have) hope in even the smallest, smallest bit, hope to take that next step. A desert can be huge. But if you just focus on the next step. And then the next step after that, you will cross it. And that’s all I hope for anybody during this time,” she said.

If you or someone you know are experiencing an especially difficult time coping or managing during this stressful time, here are resources provided by the Edgewood Center for Children and Families to help:

  • Acute Intensive Services provide support in addition to the 24/7 Crisis Stabilization Unit: Acute Intensive Services – Edgewood Center for Children and Families
  • Kinship Services Network provides resources to grandparents who are raising children whose parents are not able to do so: Kinship Support – Edgewood Center for Children and Families

Has the change in season left you feeling tired, tearful, or grumpy? You’re not alone. While research suggests around 3% of people in the UK are diagnosed with full-blown seasonal affective disorder (SAD), there’s also a milder form, which is much more common and can result in low mood. Sub-syndromal SAD, or ‘winter blues’, affects 21 per cent of the population in the UK, explaining why so many of us are left feeling down through the colder months. But what’s the science behind our low moods and what can we do to help ourselves feel better? We asked Lance Workman, visiting Professor of Psychology at the University of South Wales for some advice.

The root cause

One major reason why we might find cold, dark UK winters challenging stems back to our ancestry. ‘Our brains are still wired for the bright sunlight of equatorial Africa, where our ancestors came from,’ explains Workman. ‘Now, not only are we in a colder, darker climate, we’re spending around 93% of our time inside.’ And according to research, our indoor habits can have a direct impact on our mood. ‘There’s evidence daylight affects levels of mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin, triggering too much in the summer and too little in the winter,’ says Workman. ‘We think those with SAD react more strongly to those changes in serotonin. Melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy when it’s dark, is also involved as the shorter days mean we produce more of this in winter.’

Who’s affected?

Interestingly, it’s not only the amount of daylight you’re exposed to that impacts how you feel. ‘While most evidence suggests the further you are from the equator, the more likely you are to have SAD, some research doesn’t back that up,’ says Workman. ‘I worked on a 2018 study that revealed no significant difference in SAD rates between South Wales and North Cyprus.’

And fascinatingly, you’re likely to feel better in the winter if you have blue eyes. ‘People with blue eyes in both populations demonstrated significantly lower rates of SAD than those with darker eye colouration,’ says Workman. ‘We know blue eye pigment allows more light to reach the retina and this may allow for a greater production of serotonin in winter. Blue eye colouration might have arisen as an adaptation to SAD and general mood variability at northern latitudes.

‘In addition, women are 40% more likely to report SAD and it’s most common in women aged 20-50. It’s possible SAD could be an evolutionary adaptation designed to help women of childbearing age save energy and hold onto weight to produce offspring and help them survive winter, as it encourages you to sleep more and eat high- calorie foods. Whatever the reason, we do know SAD is less likely after menopause.’

Spot the symptoms

But how do you know whether you have SAD, or you’re just having a bad week? ‘Low mood, fatigue, cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods and an urge to isolate are all common symptoms of the winter blues,’ says Workman. ‘If you have full- blown SAD, you may have highly debilitating symptoms that get in the way of everything from work to relationships.’

The key to knowing whether you’re actually affected by SAD could be reflecting on your mood through the summer months. ‘For a diagnosis of SAD, you actually need to have summer symptoms, too, feeling much more upbeat and excitable to the point of having insomnia in summer,’ explains Workman.

Feel better

Fortunately, there are simple ways to support your mental health if you are affected. ‘The most important is to get outside,’ says Workman. ‘Taking a 30-minute walk three times a week can make a real difference.

And making changes to your dietary habits could help, too. ‘Iceland has lower rates of SAD than might be expected and this may be down to the diet, high in oily fish, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t eat at least one portion weekly, top up with an omega-3 supplement – try flaxseed, or algae-derived omega-3 if you’re vegan or vegetarian.

‘We should all be taking vitamin D in winter, too – D3 helps with mood,’ says Workman. And try to socialise – SAD encourages isolation but that tends to worsen mood, so see friends and have fun. If you’re still experiencing feelings of sadness, Workman recommends light box therapy. ‘80% of people with SAD report a significant improvement after it, although it takes time.

If these steps don’t help and you’re still experiencing symptoms of depression, see your GP, who may be able to refer you for therapy, or prescribe medication.

How to beat the dark-days blues

Beat the Winter Blues: How to Fight SAD

Wed, 21st October 2020

The well-named Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), sometimes called the winter blues, is a major depressive disorder which occurs as a result of a long period without light. This disorder affects millions of people as the seasons’ change and can lead to lower productivity and emotional strain. As we move from summer into windy autumn, and then chilly winter, many of us will be affected by SAD and there’s no time like the present to prepare. We’re going to look at what causes SAD and how you can best combat it when winter comes around.

What causes the Winter Blues?

Human beings are subject to their surroundings. When the days grow shorter, and the nights longer, the reduced daylight can trigger an urge to hibernate. This urge can manifest in lots of symptoms such as low energy, a desire to sleep longer, and a reduced need to socialise. People can also experience low moods, overeating and other depressive traits. People acutely affected by SAD can also experience negative effects on their professional and private lives.

How do you fight the effects of SAD in the workplace?

The main culprit behind SAD is the lack of light. Research has shown that bright light around 2,500 lux improves mood and energy. A day outside in the sun can reach up to 100,000 lux supercharging your mood. In winter, it can be rainy, cold, and dark; what’s more, offices are darker too with even the brightest offices only providing 500 lux. This is why it’s important to introduce as much light into the office as possible. Go for a walk at lunch on bright days or sit nearer windows during winter to supercharge your light intake.

You can also open all your blinds and curtains and if you feel the need, add some SAD lamps or torches. These bright lights can brighten up the office, allow for important light therapy and lighten the mood(pun intended). You can also use brighter coloured furnishings or add some plants to help alleviate SAD.

Keep everything clean

A clean office boosts productivity and mood, as well as protecting you and your employees from illness. UK employers alone lose a total of £16 billion a year to sick days. That’s an average of 6.5 days per employee. There are plenty of places in the office where germs and bacteria can thrive and grow, spreading illness, from your furnishings to high touch points such as keyboards, handles, and elevator buttons.

Along with reduced illness; a clean office can increase motivation, show off your professionalism to clients, and reduce stress. Humans are visual creatures and the nicer our surroundings, the more proud, confident, and energised we feel.

Scrub the air

Air quality is an important part of every office, school, home, and just about any other enclosed place. We spend much of our time indoors, whether at home or at work. The air you breathe can affect your health and mood. An experiment carried out by Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical University discovered that test subjects working in ‘green offices’ (offices with reduced VOC concentration, clean environs, and regular levels of CO2) had double the cognitive performance of people working in conventional environments.

This means that Seasonal Affective Disorder can be compounded in offices with poor air conditions, lowering people’s mood further and making teams feel even more lethargic.

At Pura4D we clean differently. We clean in 4 dimensions ; Floors, Walls and Ceilings, Furniture and Surfaces, and the Air. This allows us to create healthy buildings that are truly clean. Fight the effects of poor airflow and SAD now with a cleaning audit, training, or equipment from Pura4D.

Exercise and diet

Last but not least, SAD has knock-on effects affecting people’s exercise routines and eating habits. The lower temperatures, reduced light, and lower social needs lead to a reduction in the drive to exercise or eat healthily. If your team experiences the effects of winter it may be worth putting together team sporting events, clubs, and promote healthy recipes. These can all help reduce the depression felt and motivate your team, give them more energy, and protect their health from seasonal flu and colds.

There’s no time like the present to start planning for the dark days of winter. Meet with your team, discuss the ways you can all prepare for SAD and create habits and an environment which will keep you all in tip-top shape throughout the winter months. For more information on Pura4D or to get an in-depth cleaning audit contact us today .

When your mood is falling as fast as the thermometer, these small lifestyle changes may help boost your spirits.

If you’re starting to feel like nothing but a very full, very strong pot of coffee will get you out of bed, join the club. Summer’s over and back-to-school drudgery is a very real thing (even if you’re not actually going back to school). Get a jump on beating those blues—even before the leaves start to change—with these scientifically proven ways to lift your spirits and feel good all fall and winter long, no matter how short the days get or how low the temperatures drop.

1. Give your skin some TLC

There’s no denying that your skin looks better in the summer, with its sun-kissed glow and fresh dewiness (thank you, humidity). There’s also no denying that as temperatures and humidity levels plummet, all that cold, dry air takes a toll on your complexion. That’s why fall is the perfect time to up your skin game. Reevaluate the ingredients in your skincare routine and get the pros involved. Talk to your dermatologist about the best topical ingredients to use, such as retinol and peptides. Talk to your doctor about giving your skin a boost from the inside out with a beauty supplement that contains ingredients like collagen, found in products such as NeoCell. After all, who doesn’t feel better when their skin looks good?

2. Make your environment brighter

When your body is craving more daylight, sitting next to an artificial light—also called a light box—for 30 minutes per day can be as effective as antidepressant medication. Opening blinds and curtains, trimming back tree branches, and sitting closer to windows can also help provide an extra dose of sunshine.

3. Eat smarter

Certain foods, like chocolate, can help to enhance your mood and relieve anxiety. Other foods, like candy and carbohydrates provide temporary feelings of euphoria, but could ultimately increase feelings of anxiety and depression.

4. Simulate dawn

People with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that usually begins in late fall or early winter and fades as the weather improves, may feel depressed, irritable, lethargic, and have trouble waking up in the morning—especially when it’s still dark out. Studies show that a dawn simulator ($50; walgreens.com), a device that causes the lights in your bedroom to gradually brighten over a set period of time, can serve as an antidepressant and make it easier to get out of bed.

5. Exercise

A 2005 study from Harvard suggests walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week, or 60 minutes a day three times a week improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Exercising under bright lights may be even better for seasonal depression: A preliminary study found that exercise under bright light improved general mental health, social functioning, depressive symptoms, and vitality, while exercise in ordinary light improved vitality only. Try these mood boosting workouts.

6. Turn on the tunes

In a 2013 study, researchers showed that listening to upbeat or cheery music significantly improved participant’s mood in both the short and long term.

7. Plan a vacation

Longing for sunnier days at the beach? Research shows that the simple act of planning a vacation causes a significant increase in overall happiness.

8. Help others

Ladling out soup at the local shelter or volunteering your time can improve mental health and life satisfaction.

9. Get outside

Talking yourself into taking a walk when the temperatures plummet isn’t easy, but the benefits are big: Spending time outside (even when it’s chilly!) can improve focus, reduce symptoms of SAD, and lower stress levels.