While the holiday season can bring about some unwanted stress, there are some scientific reasons why the mood can be affected by the seasons.
s the UK Club explains, with the dark nights of winter and the colder days upon us, many people start to feel more lethargic, less motivated and experience lower moods than usual.
Others may suffer these general symptoms, with some describing a need for more sleep, while others experience less enjoyment in hobbies and activities.
In addition, while many people experience low moods during the winter months, others may suffer from a more severe form known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which can have a significant impact on a person’s daily life, impeding their ability to work or to socialise.
A crew member’s ability to perform in their role is crucial to stay safe and prevent injury to themselves and others
Seafarers can be affected by SAD just like the rest of the world, and together with the daily stresses of the job, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, both mentally and physically.
What causes Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
The conditions of the winter season, like shorter days, colder temperatures and lack of natural sunlight, can have an impact on a person’s energy levels and overall mental and physical health, with the distinct lack of sunlight being a crucial factor.
In fact, natural sunlight is an important element in any healthy lifestyle, being an invaluable source of vitamin D, as well as affecting a person’s serotonin levels and internal body clock.
The human body uses sunlight to generate vitamin D, which is crucial for absorbing calcium and maintaining healthy bones, teeth and muscles.
This is the hormone that affects mood, decision making, social behavior and other cognitive functions.
Internal body clock
A person’s exposure to sunlight can affect their internal body clock, resulting in fatigue.
What to look out for
- Greater need for sleep
- Agitation or anxiety
- A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
- Persistent low mood
- Less energy / fatigue
- Trouble concentrating
- Increased appetite / weight gain
- Becoming less sociable
Minimising the effects of SAD
- There are many changes that can be mad to address the effects of SAD during winter, these include:
- Try to get as much sunlight as possible during the day. If this is not possible, a ‘light box’ that emits light similar to that of the sun can be beneficial.
- Include more vitamin D in your diet by eating vitamin rich foods, such as fish, oranges and eggs.
Try to exercise for 30 minutes a day.
- Where possible, try to avoid stressful situations, and take steps to manage your stress levels.