Beat the winter blues

As the weather forecast heralds more snow and rain, it’s easy to feel a little gloomy. The winter months can become dark days inside as well as outside as the lack of light, cold weather, rain and snow all make their unique contribution to our experience.  It is now generally recognised that the lack of light during the winter months significantly affects the way we feel. Symptoms can include:

  • Depression – feelings of lethargy, feeling unmotivated
  • Irritability
  • Overeating – craving carbohydrates and sweet foods, voracious appetite
  • Sleep problems – oversleeping and feeling fatigued, or disturbed sleep

dru surya namaskaraGetting enough light is one easy way to feel better. Light is measured in lux – and to give you an idea – indoor lighting is usually 50-200 lux.  At sunrise, with the first glimmer of light, the level is around 800 lux, on a cloudy day it’s 1000 -10,000 lux and on a sunny day, the light levels measure between 10,000 and 100,000 lux. Even on a cloudy or rainy day, the light outside is much brighter than indoor lighting. Our minds need 1000 lux for optimum concentration and emotional wellbeing.

So how can we overcome these challenging symptoms and rise above the darkness to stay bright and shiny inside and out?
1. Getting outside
Even if it’s cloudy! This helps to balance our natural internal cycles, and Vitamin D helps to prevent cancer. I find that in the dark winter months, it’s essential to schedule in a walk, either before work in the morning, or at lunchtime.

2. Invest in a full spectrum light
Bright, full spectrum light for half an hour every day has been found to be very effective in relieving all the above symptoms.  You may want to invest in some full spectrum light bulbs both at home and in the workplace if you really can’t get out much in daylight.
Now, what about the inside?

3. Essential Fats
Essential Fatty Acids, which are said to put light into the cells of the body. When the cell membranes are healthy and open and contain all the right fats, they will have ‘electron clouds’ around them which will draw in photons or light cells.  This is why it is crucially important to make sure you are taking enough essential fatty acids into your system.  You can do this through:
–          Omega 3, 6 and 9 – flax oils
–          Sesame and pumpkin seeds
–          Unheated nuts
–          Amino acid and herb supplements, such as barley grass (order it here) can help to adjust the effect on the chemical imbalance in the hypothalamus created by shortening of daylight hours and lack of sunlight.

4. Meditation with a candle
Tratak – and other meditation techniques focusing on a candle flame, can help to relieve some of the symptoms of winter blues. Order a CD of light meditations from our online shop here.

Wishing you a great week – from the snowy mountains of Snowdonia!

Jane Saraswati Clapham
Jane Saraswati ClaphamJane co-ordinates our Yoga retreat Centre in Snowdonia National Park as well as our Dru Yoga, Meditation and Dru Sound programmes. For more information about holidays in North Wales click here.
Dru Yoga Retreats Office
Snowdonia Mountain Lodge
Nant Ffrancon
North Wales
LL57 3LX

01248 602900
For information on Dru Yoga retreats, walking holidays, meditation and sound courses, visit