Health tip of the week
Cut down on your phone and get more sleep
Everyone feels great in the sunshine – the bright light seems to lift our moods and put a smile on everyone’s faces. So obviously when the days are shorter and the sunlight at a minimum, it’s bound to take a toll on our mental health.
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD as is its apt abbreviation, is a recognised symptom of a form of malaise which is associated with the onset of autumn and winter.
“The main theory is that a lack of sunlight might affect part of the brain that is responsible for certain functions that contribute to one’s mood,” explains John Saunders, director of See Change and Shine. “Symptoms which may include a persistent low mood, a loss of interest in everyday activities, irritability, feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness, sleeping more than normal, food craving and weight-gain”
During the Pfizer Healthy Town initiative, experts, including Dr Harry Barry, will be giving advice to the people of Wexford town on how to deal with mental-health issues like this – the first step is always communication.
“We need to recognise warning signs and both heed them and share them with family, friends or professionals such as GP or therapist,” Dr Barry advises. “The golden rule should be: ‘never let mental-health difficulties grow legs’.
“Also, a few simple lifestyle changes will make all the difference. Try taking 30 minutes’ brisk exercise every day; adding more fresh fruit and vegetables to your diet; assessing your work/life balance; seriously reducing your social media and smartphone usage by, for instance, switching off all devices from 10.30pm.
“Regard sleep as the single most important lifestyle factor of all and try and get eight hours sleep for adults and 9 ½ hours for adolescents.
“Regular socialising in the community can be very beneficial, especially for older age groups.”
Health Tip of the Week is sponsored by Pfizer as part of its Healthy Town initiative. Every year Pfizer selects a town to take part in a unique initiative aimed at showing you – no matter what age you are, or where you live – simple steps to improve your health; irishtimes.com/ sponsored/healthy-town. For more information visit irishheart.ie