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Autumn Blues – How to Define and Deal with It?

First autumn-winter cold in connection with frequent rain, thick clouds and short days – these conditions pose a risk of developing of a “seasonal depression”. As a result, we tend to complain on a constant tiredness, lack of motivation and sleep disorders. Don’t worry – you can effectively fight the effects of changing seasons, and – most importantly – you can win this battle.

Life in harmony with nature

Human life on Earth has always been closely connected with nature – some seasons were spent on obtaining food while other ones on resting and migrating. Some of them meant intense work. With the arrival of autumn and winter, when nature withers, people are also able to turn off a bit. Days become shorter and nights fall quicker. Historically the metabolism was slowing down because of a decreased access to food. As a result, people had less energy, which in turn forced them to perform less tiresome activities and get through winter peacefully. Ages ago, the rhythm of nature determined the pace of human life and daily activity. Now, when the access to light is as obvious as breathing, when we buy more food than we can eat, and even considering the overwhelming (literally!) number of stimuli around – nature has faded into the background. It has become so distant that we started to look for ways of deceiving it, instead of restoring the natural order. Results? They might be very serious and even can lead to depression.

Close to depression

The amount of research on autumn-winter blues proves just the huge scale of the problem. This seemingly harmless sadness has even found its place in the medical nomenclature under the term “SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder”. It is an impaired emotional, cognitive, and physiological functioning occurring during cold seasons, continuing for at least two weeks, and receding in spring and summer. This disorder leads to the development of the main depression episode in the case of between 33 and 44 percent of people. What is more, according to global statistics, the seasonal depression – beside allergy and AIDS – is listed on the fourth position among the most frequent health problems. Psychologists still alert of its consequences for mental health in our times with mostly sedentary lifestyle (being a result of the technological progress and constant modernisation) almost exclusively in closed spaces with a limited access to the sunlight.

Nature cannot be replaced

The natural light is the most important factor in preventing the autumn-winter depression. In the era of light bulbs, digital screens and a constant use of electronic devices, we need to ensure that we are sufficiently exposed to the sunlight. Even a couple of minutes of walk in sunshine is enough to increase the level of vitamin D in the body. The darkness stimulates an excessive secretion of melatonin (so called “darkness hormone”) which is supposed to calm us down and help to relax. But what if we still need to work after the sunset? Scientists advice to start from the reduction of stress level which only intensifies our gloomy mood. Effective solution to this problem might be a weighted blanket which has the same positive effects on our body as being hugged by a close person. It reduces the production of cortisol – which is responsible for stress – and also stimulates the body to produce serotonin, the happiness hormone. You just need to cover your legs or back with a special loaded blanket and let it work for your benefit. It is also important to remember about your overall well-being, by practising e.g. meditation or physical exercises, enjoying aromatherapy and avoiding dark spaces.