For those who experience colder climates, the days are now shorter and darker. The temperatures have dropped and we tend to spend more time indoors. This can upset our general exercise routine and overall health and wellbeing.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is linked to lack of exposure to natural sunlight which affects the brain and hormones such as serotonin. A decrease in serotonin affects a person’s mood, appetite and sleep. Less sunlight disrupts a person’s internal clock and can lead to SAD’s symptoms.

These symptoms include:-

  • Lack of energy
  • Persistent low mood
  • Feelings of despair
  • Craving for carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Low self esteem
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Sleep for longer than normal and find it hard to get up in the morning
  • Loss of interest in everyday activities
  • Difficulty concentrating

Regular exercise, meditation and a healthy diet including berries and protein, e.g.  fish, nuts and seeds, can combat the symptoms of SAD especially when exacerbated by uncertain times.

Healthcare professionals recommend that people get a flu jab, protect themselves from colds and other common winter ailments by wrapping up warmly and maintain a reasonable room temperature when indoors. It is advised that people get the recommended dosage of Vitamin C, a water soluble vitamin, which doesn’t stay in the human body so it is important to keep a daily intake as well as Vitamin B12 and Omega 3. It is also advised that people take a daily dose of 10 mcg/400iu of a Vitamin D3 supplement during the months of October to April to boost immunity. It is possible to get enough Vitamin D, known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, in a healthy diet that includes fatty fish such as mackerel, wild salmon and sardines and in smaller amounts from chicken, beef, cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms however dieticians and nutritionists recommend topping up with sunlight and supplements.

Setting goals for the upcoming year, even in times of uncertainty, can prove to be a motivator and improve a person’s wellbeing. These goals could focus on family, relationships, career, diet and exercise, housing/accommodation, finance or hobbies. Whatever goals are set, they must be Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound. Specific goals can cause an individual to be optimistic about the future which in turns improves mood and health. Various sources of help are out there to help people make future plans, e.g. online tools, support groups, both online and face to face, telephone advice lines, health care professionals, finance advisers and bankers.

With months to go before year end, if you haven’t already, it’s time to reflect on this year and plan for the next and beyond.

Jolene King is Principal Consultant of 246 King Consulting ( She is a trained Occupational Psychologist, experienced Human Resources professional, is a qualified Mental Health First Aider and is trained in mental health conditions and exercise, health and nutrition. She can be reached at