| 0°C Dublin

Follow these simple steps to help beat those dreaded winter blues

You mightn't beat water charges but you can beat the winter blues.

That's what I thought last Saturday, as I watched thousands of people walk through Dublin city centre. They faced both the rain and a Government stuck in its own giant puddle. You got the feeling as we face into winter that they'll get us one way or the other.

While the arrival of Irish Water has thrown us all into a storm the advent of dark nights and the end of summer can herald something far worse for many of us.

But does winter have to be dark and depressing. Whatever about Enda's flood you can tackle the winter blues - call it the Keane Plan.

First off I'm sure you've heard of SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is a syndrome that leaves people depressed as the light begins to leave our skies. At least 20pc of us suffer from it.

If you're one of them what can you do?

First of all you have to understand what's happening to your body. Summer light means that our bodies produce less of the hormone melatonin, which normally makes us drowsy.

In winter that sun protection is gone and we want to sleep more. Sunlight also stimulates the production of serotonin, the 'feel good' neurotransmitter. These changes are outside our control but we can tackle the blues.

daylight

Get light by getting out into daylight. It's all well and grand putting on plenty of bright lights in the office or house, but it's never as strong as natural daylight.

Exercise is also a free and key component to your feeling better. Some studies show that it is as effective as an antidepressant for treating mild depression.

That said, exercising can sometimes be a lonely business. Join a gym or sign up for a class. It's tempting to hibernate in the house or apartment. Break that spell, meet people and get moving. I do a bit of cycling myself.

I can hear you hollering from your couch as you shout: 'What about the bloody cold Eamon?'. Well wrap up well and think of that cuppa and piece of chocolate you'll have when you get back.

Speaking of which, chocolate contains an amino acid Trytophan, which helps stimulate serotonin production. And the more cocoa in the choc the greater the trytophan. Now there's a get out of jail card for indulging your sweet-tooth!

With all that exercise done, its time that you treated yourself. Get a box set - Love/Hate, Breaking Bad or Downton Abbey will do nicely.

temptation

Put on the fire, gas fire or whatever you can afford. Snuggle up with the quilt. Dip your hand into those dark chocolates and lie back and think of Phil Hogan (well, maybe Colin Farrell might be a better choice).

I gave you a pass on chocolate but overall be careful of what you eat. In winter the temptation is to eat so called 'comfort foods' - but a batter burger and curry chips is not really going to produce any long lasting good feeling.

You will feel more sluggish and depressed as you pile on pounds. Equally while a mild tipple or an odd night out does no harm, drink is a depressant which will leave you with the winter blues.

Finally, can I recommend that you try laughing?

Yes, laugh at the madness of it all. Irish Water staff getting bonuses for doing their job. Millions wasted on consultants. Ministers lecturing us on charges when they enjoy obscene pensions for life.

You may not change the unfairness. But you might brighten up your outlook.

So there you go. With a few simple choices (and chocs), you can at least beat those dreaded winter blues.


Privacy