Well we have truly moved into autumn, and although it is unusually warm for this time of year, the days are shortening and the usual traits of dark mornings and nights have been with us for a few weeks now.
Now I honestly didn’t think I was affected by the changes in seasons that much, or at least was not really aware of it, but for some reason this year I do feel more strongly the effect of moving from summer into autumn. I want to slow down, need to sleep more, go to bed earlier and have a definite feeling of snuggling and hibernating! All of these I believe are perfectly natural as we our habits should change with the seasons to flow more with nature. Things like eating seasonally, putting on a little more weight ready for the winter and to look after ourselves more to compensate for the changes in the elements.
However, it can also strongly affect our mood, or what in medical terms can be called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The NHS describe this is as “a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern” and typical starts in autumn and runs through the winter.
What causes SAD?
Looking at the research there seems to be a number of conflicting reasons for the cause of SAD, with the specific causes unknown. Many researchers associate it with a lack of sunlight, which decreases our serotonin levels and increases our Melatonin.
Serotonin levels affect your mood, sleep, appetite, memory and behaviour and having lower levels of serotonin has been linked to depression.
Due to the decrease in the amount of sunlight available during autumn and winter your pineal gland in the brain begins to secrete excessive melatonin. This hormone helps us sleep, but in excess may also cause depression.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can include:-
An increase in stress and anxiety
Feelings of hopelessness
Low moods and irritability
Lacking in energy and motivation
Decreased concentration and creativity
Craving heavy and sweet foods
Loss of interest in sex or physical contact
What can be done and can massage help?
According to Rosenthal (2005), who was the first contemporary researcher to record symptoms of SAD in 1984, reducing your stress levels and being around supportive people who make you feel comfortable can help.
Massage ticks both of these boxes. Massage gets us out of the stressed “fight and flight” mode, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, thereby inducing relaxation. Massage also increases serotonin levels and balances the endocrine system, which is responsible for the release of hormones.
Apparently back in Roman times Emperor Tiberius suggested taking a massage, as well as indulging in cheerful conversation and avoiding heavy food!
So massage is definitely effective, but making other changes in our lives can help too, such as:-
Eat more fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables
Reducing your intake of processed foods
Avoid sugar (and don’t forget that includes lots of hidden sugar not just the obvious spoons in tea, coffee etc)
Exercise – do whatever you love and as much outside as you can when the weather is good
Listen to your favourite music – turn up the volume and do some daft dancing around your kitchen!
When would be the best time to get treatment?
Straight away! We are now into autumn, so don’t wait until it has fully taken its hold, book a massage today and start investing in your vital seasonal health and wellbeing. You could even make a few hints to Santa, – what better present could you get?!
If you have any questions or would like to chat further about SAD please call me for a free 15 minute telephone or face to face initial consultation. I can be contacted me either via email email@example.com or phone 07568 084323.