How to cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Online bed and sleep specialist Time 4 Sleep shares some winter self-care tips for coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) 

First of all, what is SAD?

SAD is a depressive illness that’s often triggered by the lack of sunlight in winter. This can affect the hormone levels in the part of the brain which controls sleep, mood and appetite.

How can you overcome SAD when it hits you?

  1. Adjust your routine

Shorter days can play havoc with your daily routine which, in turn, can affect your sleep pattern and your mood. Getting up in the morning can be difficult when it’s pitch black, so to help you get motivated why not: make a ‘to-do’ list for the day or go outside for a walk? A hot drink with your favourite breakfast can also get your day off to a great start.

Try to adjust your routine accordingly to keep yourself happy and healthy throughout the autumn and winter months. If possible, allow yourself a little more time in the evenings to enjoy relaxing and unwinding before the sun goes down. Perhaps have your meal a little earlier so you have more time to enjoy the evening or treat yourself to an extra hour in bed on a Saturday morning so you’re waking up to the sunlight.

2. Get more light in your day

Whether it’s a walk in the morning or on your lunch break, every extra minute of vitamin D can make a huge difference. Light therapy is a popular treatment for those who suffer with SAD, with an effectiveness rate of 85%*, and can work with only 30 minutes use per day for two weeks. Regular exercise and a balanced diet with foods rich in serotonin-boosting nutrients, such as dark chocolate, salmon and mushrooms, will also help you to feel your best.

3. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is vital in allowing you to function properly throughout the day and increases your overall mood. Try sticking to the same bedtimes and keep the same sleep routine for the autumn and winter months. Eight hours a night is the recommended amount and will leave you feeling the most refreshed and productive the next day.

Making sure you’re sleeping on the right mattress is important for sleeping through the night. Time 4 Sleep director Jonathan Warren says: “Mattresses have a big part to play in the quality of your sleep. Make sure you try and test a few varieties, as everyone’s needs are different depending on their preferences and health needs. It’s definitely one of those products that’s worth investing in.”


How to speak up in social situations and boost your own self-belief

DSC_2682bLife coach and international speaker Wendy Capewell shares some advice on speaking out when we feel overwhelmed. She also talks about how not speaking out can impact our overall health and wellbeing

Some people find it really uncomfortable to say how they feel at the best of times, but it can be even more difficult when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Your thoughts can be jumbled or distorted and you tend to doubt yourself. You may also feel vulnerable and scared of being rejected. But by not speaking up – perhaps when you don’t agree with what someone has said – your silence can be perceived as agreement.

You might feel that if you speak up it will result in conflict, which is something you want to avoid – especially right now.

That might be okay in the short-term but, long-term, it can cause all kinds of problems which can eat away at you and leave you feeling as if your opinions don’t matter. This, in turn, can lead you to feeling worthless. people-2567915_1920

Here’s an example: a few months ago, a group of friends asked if you would be the designated driver on a night out. You agreed but now every time you go out with that group of friends, it’s assumed you will be the driver.

By not speaking up and letting them know you don’t always want to drive, you will be seen as easy-going and might find that you’re put on even more and taken for granted.

You might not want to speak up because you hate conflict but, by not speaking out, you feel resentful. If you internalise those feelings, they can eat away at you and you can feel worthless and, at the same time, worried about upsetting others and losing their friendship.

The danger is that you will start on a downward spiral – sinking into unhappiness that can turn into feeling depressed, believing that your opinion doesn’t matter and that you are worthless.

By learning to speak up, people will not only learn to listen to you, they will also respect you. It’s also important to speak up about your feelings of overwhelm before it becomes more serious. Tell someone you trust and ask them for help. people-2576947_1920

People often don’t ask for help because they think it’ll be seen as weakness, or they worry they’ll be rejected. But asking for help means you want to resolve the issues rather than continue to feel that way. In my experience, people like being asked for help.

Turn it around for a moment and ask yourself how it feels when one of your friends asks for your help. I’m sure you feel pleased they have asked you and want to help. This can also apply in other relationships!

Wendy offers many different online coaching services to people all over the UK and her book ‘From Surviving to Thriving in a Romantic Relationship’ is out now at Amazon.


Is stress causing your bad breath?

It’s estimated that 50% of the UK population suffers from bad breath but is stress the culprit?
Yes, says dentist, bacteriologist and founder of The Californian Breath Clinics and The Breath Company Dr Harold Katz.
“It’s well documented that stress can have a huge impact on our general health and can cause a plethora of physical conditions, such as heart disease and obesity, as well as serious mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression,” says Dr Katz.
“Specifically, when taking our oral health in to account, stress can really take its toll and be attributed to various oral health issues including bad breath, gum disease
and mouth ulcers to name a few.”
But how does stress cause halitosis?
“When individuals find themselves in high stress circumstances, their bodies react by using the sympathetic nervous system as a form of protection.
“This system essentially triggers the fight-or-flight response mechanism, providing you with a boost of energy so you can react quickly to the situation. In cases of chronic stress, your body is kept in ‘fight or flight’ mode and conserves energy by turning off certain digestive functions such as the production of saliva.
“The mouth then produces a lower level of saliva – saliva is mandatory for moistening food for easier digestion, but the body deems it unnecessary in critical situations.
“Saliva evaporates and the mouth becomes dry, leading to bad breath. This happens because the odorous gases created by bacteria in the mouth, which are generally suppressed by spit and swallowed away, are free to be released into the air.
“Additionally, bacteria are much more likely to stick to the surfaces of a dry mouth, which can further enhance the sour smell. Drinking plenty of water, chewing sugar-free gum and rinsing with a non-alcohol mouthwash can help to minimise the effects of stress related halitosis.”
How can stress cause gum disease?
“A small amount of blood in the sink when you clean your teeth might not seem like a big deal, but consistently bleeding gums should not be ignored. Bleeding gums are a visual symptom of gum disease which can be caused by stress. There are a few factors that link stress to bleeding gums and the onset of gum disease.
“Firstly, when the body is under stress it produces elevated amounts of the hormone
cortisol which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. When cortisol is produced peripherally in the gums, it stimulates mast cells to produce more proteins, simultaneously increasing inflammation and the progression of gum disease.
“In addition, individuals with high stress levels tend to adopt bad oral hygiene and lifestyle habits, and this in turn can have a negative impact on their oral health.
“If gum disease isn’t in advanced stages then good oral hygiene habits can reverse it so it’s essential to adopt a robust oral hygiene regimen coupled with regular trips to your dentist who can offer sound advice on correct brushing and flossing techniques.”
How can stress cause mouth ulcers?
“Chronic stress suppresses the immune system and can leave you open to disease and infection. Mouth ulcers are one example of this and although are relatively harmless can make life unbearable when eating, drinking, speaking or swallowing.
“They occur on the inside of the mouth and are white or yellow surrounded by a dark red area. Minimising your exposure to stressful situations and adopting some simple lifestyle changes can reduce your chances of developing moth ulcers.”
How can I minimise stress and its effects on my oral health?
“Stress can often be an unavoidable part of modern day living, but that can really hinder your day-to-day life. You can help to minimise the impact that stress has on your oral health by adopting the following:
Start with some lifestyle changes. Stress can often lead us to make bad lifestyle choices that will impact our oral health. Limiting consumption of sugary foods and drinks, alcohol and quitting smoking will all contribute to healthier gums and mouth. Smoking in particular dries out the mouth and can lead to gum disease as a result of bacteria and toxins causing plaque to form in the mouth.
Exercise. Fitting exercise into your lifestyle will do wonders for your stress level. When you exercise, you’re using physical activity to shed the mind of stressful thoughts. Regularly practicing yoga for example, may be great for the body and mind. Similarly, deep breathing exercises can be very beneficial, and any form of exercise may boost endorphin production and help you better handle your emotions in high-tension situations.
Adopt a robust oral health regimen. Brush and floss regularly but avoid harsh soap in
toothpaste. Brushing helps eradicate the plaque and bacteria on your teeth, however some toothpaste contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), a soapy detergent that creates foam but has no cleaning benefit. The additive has recently been linked to serious side effects including canker sores.
Flossing is an extra step, but it’s an important one, as it helps gets in between the teeth where toothbrushes sometimes miss. In addition, regular and specific application of alcohol-free mouth rinses such as The Breath Company Healthy Gums Oral Rinse will help calm the gum area and work to both eliminate germs associated with gum disease and reduce the formation of biofilm which leads to plaque and tartar build-up.
It’s important to steer clear of alcohol-based mouthwashes as these can cause dry mouth, and just mask odours rather than killing off bacteria
Stay hydrated throughout the day. The fight-or-flight reaction to stress can make you
dehydrated and this leads to dry mouth and bad breath bacteria forming which can both
contribute to the onset of halitosis gum disease. If you keep your mouth and body well hydrated, you will minimise the chance of developing dry mouth that can lead to these problems.
• Talk to your dentist and make regular check-ups. They are the very best source of advice and will be able to check for any signs of any stress-related gum disease and bad breath issues. In addition, they will be able to offer advice on how to prevent stress affecting your oral health and put in place a care plan that is bespoke to you.”
Dr. Harold Katz is a dentist with an advanced degree in bacteriology and a lifelong advocate of good oral health. He is the founder of The California Breath Clinics and the developer of the The Breath Company line of premium oral care products. He is the internationally recognised expert in the fields of bad breath, taste disorders, tonsil stones and dry mouth.
Known as the ‘Bad Breath Guru’ due to his numerous television appearances on U.S shows like The View and the CBS Early Show, he has helped
millions of people around the world eliminate their bad breath problems.
Dr. Katz is a graduate of the UCLA School of Dentistry and holder of a separate degree in Bacteriology, also from UCLA. In the 1970s he established a thriving dental practice in Beverly Hills, California, minutes from bustling 20th Century Fox Studios. There, he perfected his dental techniques while working with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.