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Home  /  Blog  /  Shorter Days and Strictly Come Dancing
strictly come dancing SAD counselling tynemouth
11th October 2019

Shorter Days and Strictly Come Dancing

Some tips on how to fight SAD

After daylight savings on October 27th the days are going to be shorter, the nights longer, and for many, this causes plummeting moods. In October, Strictly Come Dancing is going to keep people in front of their screens.

So how are the two linked?

This period is when people might start to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, Although only a few of us get profoundly depressed during the cold months, almost all of us feel more tired, more down, and lethargic as autumn approaches.

If autumn is getting you down, what can you do to feel like yourself again?

What causes SAD?

One theory is that light entering the eye causes changes in hormone levels. Light stops the production of the sleep hormone melatonin in our bodies.

SAD sufferers are affected by shorter daylight hours. They produce higher levels of melatonin, causing lethargy and symptoms of depression.

All of us are affected neurobiologically by the amount of sunlight we’re exposed to. Although both temperature and light seem to play a role, it is light that has the most evidence for affecting mood.

Our bodies store fat and we are less compelled to exercise during winter as an adaptive measure towards conserving energy. Having said that, there is very good evidence that eating better and exercising more makes SAD easier. 

Get more light

It’s no surprise that treatment usually involves getting more light into your life. If you feel low in winter, get outside as often as you can. Sitting by a window can also help. Light therapy is often used to treat SAD.

Eat better and exercise

Winter blues can make you crave sugar and carbohydrates, but don’t forget to include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet. A healthier diet increases serotonin precursors. Meanwhile, exercise itself generates chemicals that keep neurons healthier. 

Get active

Dr Andrew McCulloch says: “There’s convincing evidence that 30 minutes of vigorous exercise 3 times a week is effective against depression…. If you have a tendency towards SAD, outdoor exercise will have a double benefit, because you’ll gain some daylight.”

Activity is believed to change the level of the mood-regulating chemical serotonin in the brain.

The charity Mind says research has shown that an hour-long walk in the middle of the day is an effective way to beat the winter blues.

What about Strictly Come Dancing?

Why don’t you participate rather than spectate?

Dancing combines exercise with the positive power of music and social engagement, yielding major mental health benefits.

Here is why it’s so good for your brain:

Gets your brain and body involved

Some workouts, like running on a treadmill, you can do with your brain turned completely off.  Dancing requires complex cognitive coordination and function.

Activates the Brain’s Reward Centre

Dancing releases endorphins: feel-good neurochemicals. Dance combined with music has the added bonus of activating the primal reward centres in the brain and combined with social engagement, it yields major brain benefits.

Lowers Dementia Risk

Just like learning any other new skill, learning dance moves takes focus and activates the hippocampus. Keeping the hippocampus engaged is key for preventing cognitive decline and dementia.

Decreases Depression and Anxiety

Because dance is both a physical and emotional release, it’s ideal for people experiencing stress, depression, and anxiety. Studies show that it can decrease anxiety and boost mood more than other physical outlets.

In a nutshell, as the days get shorter get out for a walk in your lunch break and put your dancing shoes on in the evening.

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Or do you feel you would like to speak to our counsellors just contact us on 0191 296 0567 and ask for an appointment with Doug or Joanna.

Published on: 11th October 2019