Fall is a special season for fatigue and depression. Everyone has heard of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is the phenomenon caused, at least in part, by the reduction in the period of natural light. Usually, we work during sunny hours, and this reduced exposure to light has a big impact on our state of mind. Therefore, it’s normal to feel a drop of enthusiasm during the fall, and this year will be particularly difficult for many people. I will give you 7 tips that could help you.
We will therefore discuss:
- Seasonal affective disorder
- The sneaky effects of chronic stress
- Resilience; the tool used by the strong
- My 7 tips
1. Seasonal affective disorder
In science we look for what we call: cause and effect relationships. Observations that allow us to explain a phenomenon. Simple systems, the easiest to study, relate a cause and an effect. In contrast, complex systems relate one or more causes to one or more effects. The tendency to want to simplify, means that sometimes the relation will regard the most important cause, as a first order relation with the effect. I personally believe that the case of brightness and seasonal affective disorder is an example of this. Is it just the light that is responsible for seasonal affective disorder?
What about the fact that many health problems are exacerbated by temperature changes in the fall? Can increasing chronic pain have an impact on the state of mind? For those whom the end of the beautiful season also corresponds to a reduction in physical activity; can this decrease in activity have an impact on their state of mind? If healthy eating, especially fruit and vegetable consumption, is correlated with good spirits, could declining diversity and consumption have a role to play?
I believe that seasonal affective disorder is very real and is caused by several factors, one of which is reduced light. Here are the main symptoms:
- Loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed;
- Persistent depressed mood;
- Fatigue, lack of energy;
- Sleep disorders;
- Change in body weight;
- Feeling of guilt, worthlessness;
For my part, I feel sad every fall to see my flowers leave to give way to the off season (just thinking about it, is depressing). I enjoy flowers because it forces me to stop in the present moment to appreciate them and share these observations with my friends on social media. Yes, since I don’t have cats, I share photos of flowers.
2. The sneaky effects of chronic stress
Currently, I do not believe that the greatest risk of depression is related to the decrease in light or the effects of the change of seasons. Chronic stress related to the unknown and the pandemic is certainly the most important factor. An Australian study of 1,491 people (mean age 50.5 ± 14.9 years, 67% women) found a link between decreased physical activity, sleep problems, alcohol consumption and smoking, since the start of the pandemic, and state of mind. The negative evolution of these factors causes a higher level of depression, anxiety and symptoms of stress. Unfortunately, this highlights the effects of stress caused by the pandemic, but also the fact that we should take advantage of it to promote healthy lifestyles in order to reduce its negative impacts. To combat the chronic stress caused by the pandemic, your first tool should be resilience.
3. Resilience; the tool used by the strong
Resilience is the ability to adapt in times of adversity. Resilient people are able to get through hardship by showing flexibility. You have to be strong to adapt. It’s easy to face a situation, deny it, or want to fight. It’s much more difficult to have the ability to leave a situation having grown from within, to be strong in the face of adversity. Studies show that resilience is correlated with flexibility (emotional and cognitive). Thus, positive people show a much higher capacity for resilience. They deal with painful events in a calm but proactive manner. It’s not about putting your head down and waiting for everything to work out, but rather deciding to keep moving forward. Consider that this is life, that it is normal to face trials, and that we have been able to overcome others in the past.
You also have to show tolerance for what you cannot change. The pandemic is here to stay, the ordeal will be temporary, but in the meantime we must accept the uncertainty. Avoid catastrophic news. Pay attention to positive facts like the survival rate of severe cases which has improved by 50% in England.
Let us show solidarity by considering that it is together that we will get through it brilliantly. The fact of participating in solidarity initiatives, such as volunteering or promoting local purchases to support our businesses, are part of the effective steps to develop resilience. Because yes, developing yourself and having a strong belief that you can improve, are the first steps towards greater flexibility and resilience.
4. My 7 tips
- Brightness: get outside and take the opportunity to compensate for the decrease in physical activity. Remember that increasing heart rate and respiratory rate is a demonstration that the activity is of sufficient intensity to be beneficial. Add some intensity to your outings!
- Compensate for the decrease in vitamin D associated with the decrease in sun exposure. In the winter, everyone should take a vitamin D supplement to avoid becoming deficient. In this regard, note that the Vitoli Memory and Cognitive Health, Vitoli Immunity and Vitoli Bone Health products contain 1000 units of vitamin D3.
- It is very positive to engage in a creative activity. You have the ability to influence the appreciation of your meals, but also the quality of your food.
- Sleep: The quality of sleep is very important for stress management, the risk of depression and fatigue. Some recommendations can help to improve it and if needed, the use of Vitoli Sleep can facilitate the return to a more natural sleep.
- Make yourself useful to others. Compassion and solidarity are two very precious tools in difficult times. It is possible to help families in need, to participate in the collection of food for the holiday season, or quite simply, to make more frequent contact with the elderly who suffer from loneliness.
- View chronic stress as the enemy to be destroyed no matter what type of weaponry you deploy. The above 5 tips should be added to healthy stress management. To do this, watch out for harmful habits that amplify problems such as consuming sugar, fast food, alcohol or smoking. Two Vitoli products can help you: Vitoli Energy and Vitoli Stress and Anxiety. Vitoli Energy helps fight feelings of depression and chronic stress. If the stress is too intense, temporarily or for prolonged periods, call on Vitoli Stress and Anxiety.
- Most important: pay attention to the present moment, to small everyday pleasures. Life is filled with small moments of fun that we always appreciate even more the day we have trouble obtaining them. Take advantage today and remember that even growing old is an amazing experience that not everyone can “live” through.
Trust that you are fully capable and can make the decision to help yourself (don’t hesitate to ask for help if the situation escapes you).
Other suggested items
- Natural Products for Stress and Insomnia; the Researcher’s Perspective
- Are We Victims of COVID? How Can We Not Be?
- Vitoli Energy: For Difficult Times
- Dennis JM, McGovern AP, Vollmer SJ, Mateen BA. Improving Survival of Critical Care Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 in England: A National Cohort Study, March to June 2020. Crit Care Med. 2020 Oct 26.
- Jacka FN, O’Neil A, Opie R, Itsiopoulos C, Cotton S, Mohebbi M, Castle D, Dash S, Mihalopoulos C, Chatterton ML, Brazionis L, Dean OM, Hodge AM, Berk M. A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC Med. 2017 Jan 30;15(1):23.
- Mårtensson B, Pettersson A, Berglund L, Ekselius L. Bright white light therapy in depression: A critical review of the evidence. J Affect Disord. 2015 Aug 15;182:1-7.
- Pascale Brillon, 2020. COVID-19 Maximisons notre résilience. Lapresse +, 13 mars 2020.
- Ross RA, Foster SL, Ionescu DF. The Role of Chronic Stress in Anxious Depression. Chronic Stress (Thousand Oaks). 2017 Feb 17;1:2470547016689472.
- Stanton R, To QG, Khalesi S, Williams SL, Alley SJ, Thwaite TL, Fenning AS, Vandelanotte C. Depression, Anxiety and Stress during COVID-19: Associations with Changes in Physical Activity, Sleep, Tobacco and Alcohol Use in Australian Adults. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jun 7;17(11):4065.