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  • Writer's pictureJan Johnson

“Blue Monday,” Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) & Reflexology

Sad woman at a window with rain outside
Feeling the winter blues - Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Let’s face it, January is not the most uplifting of months. The bright lights and festivities of Christmas are a distant memory and spring seems far far into the future. January is dark with less than 8 hours of daylight and generally those precious hours are marred by a grey drizzle. It is no wonder that many of us feel in a low mood at this time of year. Indeed, Monday 20th January 2020 is officially named as “Blue Monday” and said to be the most depressing day of the year!

For most of us, winter, the dark days and cold weather are relatively minor irritations. We carry on as best we can with our lives and pick ourselves up by planning summer holidays or thinking about the garden and the growing season to come. However, if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), this time of the year can be an immense challenge.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

SAD is a type of depression, sometimes called “Winter depression” because the symptoms appear with a seasonal pattern. This usually coincides with reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter days of autumn and winter and can last for many months. If you suffer from SAD you may experience low mood and feelings of despair and worthlessness. You may be more irritable, find it harder to concentrate and lose interest in your normal activities. Your sleep pattern may be disrupted, sleeping more or less than normal and feeling lethargic during the day. Weight gain may also be an issue as you develop a craving for carbohydrates. These symptoms can have a significant impact on your well-being and day-to-day activities. The exact causes of SAD are not known but there is a theory if you are affected, then you may have higher levels of melatonin hormone which makes you feel sleepy, and lower levels of serotonin affecting your mood, appetite and sleep. Your body’s internal clock is disrupted by the reduced amounts of sunlight.

How can Reflexology help to alleviate the symptoms of SAD?

Reflexology is proven to increase relaxation and reduce the affects of stress. Following a session, clients experience an overall feeling of well-being which makes reflexology a natural supportive therapy in dealing with the symptoms of SAD. By targeting the key reflex points of the endocrine system, this can bring about greater balance, aid in the release of the natural feel-good hormones and in the regulation of the circadian rhythms of the body-clock. The endocrine system is a network of glands that make hormones which regulate many functions, vital in maintaining homeostasis within the body.

I recommend an initial course of 6 - 7 weekly reflexology sessions to provide the most effective support for SAD. Once your symptoms have improved, then monthly visits help to maintain an optimum balance of natural health and well-being.*

What other help is available for SAD?

There are a range of treatments that your doctor may recommend including:

  • Lifestyle measures – getting as much sunlight as possible, taking regular exercise and managing your stress.

  • Light therapy – a special lamp or light box used to simulate natural sunlight exposure.

  • Talking therapies

  • Antidepressant medication

Embrace the winter season

Woman blowing snowflakes from gloves
Having fun in the snow

Hot drink in a mug held by hands in mittens
Warming winter drink

There is still much to enjoy about winter. It can be a beautiful time of the year. Bright frosty mornings or a fresh blanket of snow. Brisk country walks wrapped up in warm snuggly scarves and hats, then back home to a cosy fire and a warming mug of hot chocolate.

There are many positives and remember that the dark of January is the gateway to the light of spring. But. It is important to acknowledge that if you are struggling, then prioritise self-care and seek the help that is right for you.

* Reflexology should not be used as an alternative to seeking medical advice. If you have a health problem, medical emergency or a general health question, ‘Jan Johnson Reflexology’ always recommends you should consult your doctor.

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