Seasonal affective disorder, sickness and self-care
Of the three issues in the title, only one of them is within our control - but I do know that if you eliminate the one we can control, the self-care, then the other two things can have a much worse effect on us.
It’s fair to say that self-care is the buzzword of the year, but I’d like to suggest that it is trending for a reason. When we take ownership of our self-care, the things that can bring us down; from stress and all its side effects to family drama and work issues, become that little bit more manageable.
It’s about starting each day with our best foot forward because we are recharging our batteries on a regular basis.
Self-care doesn’t have to be ‘fluffy’ or frivolous. We all know that real life doesn’t look like a Pinterest board! So by all means, fill your bathroom with rose petals and scented candles if you like – but for me, that’s not what real, practical self-care is about.
A more practical way to look at self-care is to see it as a way to save your sanity, taking the prevention approach, rather than trying to cure yourself once your stress levels have already peaked.
It’s about packing yourself a lunch box so you don’t end up eating rubbish for lunch. It’s about taking ten minutes to read, meditate, breathe deeply or whatever you like to do to ground yourself before your workday starts. It’s about having a hot bath and taking some good supplements when you feel a seasonal cold coming on, rather than waiting for the cold to set in and floor you.
Prevention over cure is a smart approach – and there is nothing self-indulgent about that.
Here are a few of my best, practical self-care suggestions…
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is surprisingly common. Not everyone feels the characteristic sadness; some of us feel tiredness from the lower light levels.
Buying a sunrise alarm clock might feel too indulgent at first. A friend of mine put off buying one for a really long time, as she felt guilty spending the money on herself. But once she finally gave in she told me that the increase in energy she now has made the clock pay for itself. No longer waking up late, missing the bus to work and spending money on emergency taxis so she won’t be late is definitely prevention over cure in the long run.
Another great SAD tip is simply to take your coffee breaks outside. Even though the daylight lamps are brilliant, there is no substitute for the real thing – plus, the fresh air doesn’t hurt either. Grab your coffee and your coat and step outside the office.
Who these days can get through a year without catching a cold? If it’s not found you on the train or bus, then the kids are bringing it back from school. Sickness is common this time of year, and while total prevention isn’t possible, we can equip ourselves for better health.
If you are so inclined, anyone can get a flu vaccination from a pharmacy these days for a very small charge – you don’t have to worry about qualifying for an NHS one. There is, of course, plenty we can do to maintain a strong immune system.
From supplements and probiotics to the immune-boosting powers of exercise – you can choose your preferred weapon!
So with seasonal issues addressed, let's talk about the self-care. This is somewhere you can actually get creative if you like! You see, I think self-care is quite a personal thing. For some people, a pedicure at the spa would be heaven, whereas for other people that may be boring or just plain uncomfortable. So, I encourage you to have a think about what you would love to do for your self-care.
Personally, I don’t mind a spa visit once in a while, but generally, for me, a good book and a cup of tea have the perfect stress-busting effect.
We all need some quiet time just for ourselves, and importantly, I want to say that we all deserve that too. When you keep yourself feeling well, in body and mind, you have much more energy for your family, your work, and for any other responsibilities. Just don’t forget your responsibility to yourself.
Wishing you a wonderful, healthy autumn!