Understanding seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

By Nicky BatesPublished on 12th November, 2021

I don’t know about you, but when I get to this time of year, particularly when the clocks change and Halloween is done, and the smell of fireworks are just a mere whiff of a memory, I start to feel more tired. I have less energy, I’m more irritable and moody and I have absolutely no desire to go out into the dark and exercise.

I’m sure I’m not alone with this, and it got me thinking – a lot of my clients that I’m currently working with are also feeling quite low in energy and mood right now.

So, what could be causing this?

I believe as soon as the dark nights appear and our daylight hours are reduced, I suffer from SAD, better known as seasonal affective disorder. I would actually like to hibernate from November through to March but obviously know that I can’t. In these winter months, my clients (who are also suffering from the same condition) need my counselling services more.

What is seasonal affective disorder?

It’s not a fad or some new trendy term for mild depression. The exact cause of SAD is not fully understood, but it’s often linked to reduced exposure to sunlight on autumn and winter days.

The main school of thought is that a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus from working correctly, which may affect the overproduction of the hormone melatonin. This could make you feel more sleepy, and lethargic at this time of year. To the sufferer, it may feel that basically your get up and go has got up and gone!

Is this condition a recognised one?

Absolutely, SAD is recognised in the DSM-IV and DSM-5 manuals (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Its classification has changed and is no longer classified as a’unique mood disorder’ but is now a specifier with seasonal pattern” for the recurrent major depressive disorder that occurs at a specific time of the year (usually the winter months), then disappears once daylight hours are increased.  

How would I know if I am suffering from SAD?

Some potential symptoms (although not prescriptive and should not be used as a diagnostic tool) could be described as:

  • feeling tired and lethargic even after a good nights sleep
  • a persistently low mood that is hard to shake.
  • overeating, particularly stodgy comfort high calorific foods
  • a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities like exercise and being social
  • feeling irritable and quick to anger
  • lack of personal hygiene
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness and low self-esteem
  • wanting to remain safe and secure within the house
  • bouts of tearfulness for no apparent reason
  • feeling more stressed or anxious
  • a reduced sex drive and libido

What can I do to help myself if I have SAD?

Between November and March, we lose the daylight hours with the shortest day of the year being on the 21st of December, also known as the winter solstice. We only have a meagre eight hours and 46 minutes of daylight on this day. The one good thing is folks, after that, we start to gain up to twominutes and seven seconds of precious daylight every day.

Simple suggestions to help with SAD

  • As it’s light that we are in a deficit of, light therapy is usually a good start. Invest in some bright lamps, bulbs, salt rock crystals. The more light the brain is exposed to, the hippocampus becomes a happy one again. It won’t know whether it’s artificial or real light.
  • Try and get out each day for a walk, run or just sit in the garden as it is potentially also vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) that we are lacking. Even on wet, cold days, it will also break those negative thought patterns.
  • Maybe try some mind-body connection techniques such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, guided imagery, music or art therapy.
  • Counselling is another option to treat SAD. CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), gestalt and person-centred counselling can help you; capture and change negative thought patterns and behaviours that may be making you feel worse at this time of year.
  • Learn healthy ways to cope with SAD, especially with reducing avoidance behaviour and scheduling activities. In other words, don’t over plan.
  • Learn how to manage stress and anxiety. There are many ways to do this, there are many apps out there now that you can download on your phone to alleviate anxiety.
  • Acknowledge your thoughts, moods and feelings as they emerge. I get my clients to capture their emotions and feelings and note what made it a good or bad day.
  • Talk to friends or family – no one should suffer alone.

Hopefully, this article may have helped you understand more about SAD. As a gestalt practitioner, I notice what comes into my awareness on the day. What works for me is taking out my puppy in all weathers and surrounding myself with bright lighting whilst working. This really helps to shift my mindset, low mood and lethargy.

Awareness = Choice = Change

Left Brain vs Right Brain & What This May Means for Creative People Choosing a Counsellor…

The difference between the Left & Right Brain calculation vs colour I know where mines at!

Right Brain vs Left Brain and how this may affect the counsellor that I choose.

Were you one of those children who could just not draw, write poetry, or have rhythm or any artistic ability? Or were you one of those children who was absolutely lost on maths, science, physics or analytical problem solving. If you said yes to any of these then this article perhaps may shed some light as to why.

I’m not going to lie, I have always struggled with numbers, science, physics, calculations and analytical thinking and logical reasoning. Because of my inability to comprehend mathematics, I was told by a very oppressive maths teacher that I would never amount to anything (thanks for that!). In fact, “You are so bad at maths why don’t you just sit at the back of the class with a magazine!”

The 15 year old me did just that, sitting ashamed and embarrassed, daydreaming out of the window pondering that there must be more to life than maths! Willing and almost wishing that the limp, water logged daffodils would come to life and start dancing on the empty playground, and help me escape this cruel scenario I had to endure.

I’ve always been drawn to people, vibrancy, art, colour, music, from a very early age. I was able to read emotions, understand and empathise with people and see things through their lens. Listening and caring came naturally to me. I’ve always known that I was attracted to bright things, creativity and colour. In fact, I won first prize in my junior school craft week by painting a multi-coloured elephant (so vibrant and different she stood in the middle of the drab school hall) £5 was a lot of money back then!

What I couldn’t have possibly known back then, or even through my adolescence and early adult life, was my brain just didn’t function the way society perceived it should. It didn’t make sense of a world that seemed organised, measured, precise and narrow in its thinking. A creative brain was not much use to anyone that didn’t understand it let alone encourage it!

A heavily dominated right-sided brain struggles with huge walls of text which can make studying and essay writing a mammoth task. A heavily dominant right-sided brain will make more sense out of one single picture than a thousand words could ever depict.

Another example of this is whilst finishing my foundation degree, and having to write yet another case study, I was surrounded by a mountain of books. I felt like I was fire fighting my way through the text, trying to extract their point or meaning. My brain has to go over and over the phrase or meaning so many times for it to sink in. I can honestly say hand on heart, that in the seven years of studying, I never completed one counselling theory textbook. Don’t even get me started on the Harvard referencing system! How one could lose precious marks if semicolon or full stop was out of place.

So, is there a difference between the right and left sides of the brain?

Surprisingly enough there is a difference and quite a significant one at that. Imagine your brain cut into two halves, all though from an outward appearance they look the same, the variance couldn’t be more different. They don’t work independently of each other, they process information differently, and they both function completely differently for each individual.

How do they differ then and is this a new concept?

Absolutely not, the analysis that the brain has two hemispheres or a (split brain) that functions autonomously has been around for over 60 years! Sperry (1960) based his Nobel Prize winning theory on this very matter!

The Left Brain

The left brain is better at……

According to Sperry the left brain is more verbal, precise, ordered and analytical than the right brain. Often referred to as the ‘digital’ brain or even the compute brain. He also suggested that the left brain was responsible for neural processes such as:

· rationality

· judgement

· sequencing

· straight thinking

· mathematics

· calculation

· reckoning

· specifics

· particulars

· limitations

· intelligent use of words

The Right Brain

The right brain however is more visual, creative uses intuition as a process. It is deemed less structured, organised and is sometimes depicted as the ‘analogue brain’ that uses indications or information characterised by a constantly adaptable physical quantity such as spatial position.

The right brain is better at…..

Sperry’s research indicated the right brain is also associated with

· inspiration

· vision

· inventiveness

· universal thinking

· perception

· awareness

· artistic temperament

· colour

· rhythm

· nonverbal cues

· emotions

· visualisation


· facial recognition

· 3D shape modelling

What is very obvious is that although structurally the two hemispheres are equivalent in size weight and measure, their neural functions and processes are hugely diverse! Food for thought is like our dominant hand do we also have dominant brain?

What a contrast same brain different game!

So Does it Make a Difference?

For myself there is no denying the difference! A recent test has only confirmed what I already knew from all those years ago, that my brain is an alarming 87.5% right brain.

But what does this mean? And does it even matter?

It matters because, for years of being made to feel inadequate and stupid with mathematics as my nemesis, having a freeze or having a mental block when trying to add up on the spot the restaurant bill scenario, there is actually a logical straightforward explanation for this.

My brain just does not work that way, only a meagre 12.5% of it does! It means that a very heavily right-sided brain will always struggle with maths, analytical problem solving, reading lots of uninspiring text and logical one-sided reasoning!

It means that rather than ostracise someone and put them at the back of the class, put them somewhere where their ideas can flourish and grow and come to life! It means that they have the potential to see beauty and hope where others do not. It means that having an intrinsic creative stance on life should be embraced with equality rather than disparity.

I was told at a nursing interview once, “Oh you are one of those arty-crafty types. I can’t be doing with people like you!” (Again, thanks for that!). But, despite her cruel words, I was a successful nurse for over 20 years. I am now able to use my creativity in my counselling working with metaphors, analogies, art, and creative mediums.

I write blogs and design flyers and web posts for a very well-established counselling organisation. I have never felt more free, liberated, and finally accepted! Hopefully, this article will highlight that before we dismiss, cast aside and write off children who struggle with maths, science and logic, perhaps we need to grasp and have an insight into what other attributes or hidden gems may be laying suppressed beneath their surface!

If this article has resonated with you or has made you sit up and think hey this has happened to me, then choosing a creative, insightful counsellor who uses intuition, awareness as well as free thinking may be better suited to you. They will be able to understand your point of reference and facilitate your journey in a holistic way.

Thanks for reading this article.

Nicky Bates

Counsellor & Creative Director of the TLC Counselling Hub

A Year on are we any kinder?

So a year ago yesterday we tragically lost a charismatic soul Caroline Flack. She was trolled terribly through all the socials and became a prisoner in her own home whilst waiting for an upcoming court case. Sadly her suicide prevented her from her day in court. A year on from these tragic events have we as a society become any kinder? read on to find out!

Kindness costs nothing but means everything!

Kindness is a type of behaviour marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others, without having an expectation of praise or reward. But is our society kind and considerate? Sadly we live in a world of very selfish, self obsessed people. Their only kindness is perhaps towards themselves. Unfortunately today’s society is I feel, anything but kind.

Obviously pre-Covid times, would you come to the aid of a lost child in a busy shopping centre? Would you give up your seat on the tube/bus for a pregnant woman? Would you knock on your next door neighbour’s door to offer to get their shopping for them in this current pandemic? These are questions we ask ourselves from time to time and we are often troubled by our honest responses.

As a society, we appear to have lost the instinct for kindness and the willingness to extend the olive branch or the hand of friendship outwards. Our responses to children, to the disabled, to older people, to strangers, are all conditioned by a concern not to offend and a for a fear of meddling in matters that do not concern us.

Unfortunately the social evils of today such as, Facebook, Instagram, Tik-Tok etc, highlights a real concern for the way in which society increasingly values people for their economic contributions, successes and overnight ladders of fame, rather than their natural ingrained traits of kindness and compassion.

Some blame the nature of regulation – while providing protection for some, it seems to have intimidated the majority. Others feel there has been a general decline in values, morals and hospitality. Individual gain and self importance, is seen as more significant than the ability to care for others.

Whatever the reasons, we are uncomfortable with the society we have created. The idea of the common good has been lost, and the Britain of today is experiencing a severe escalation in mental health (especially in teenagers) and sadly a social recession – the effects of which are far more devastating, longer-lasting, and isolating than the current Covid-19 crisis!

Perhaps it’s about weathering the storm together!

16-02-21 Written by the TLC Counselling Hub

World Mental Health Day 10-10-20

The Emotional Balloons Metaphor…

How many emotional balloons are you currently holding?

Over at the TLC Hub I have been working very closely with some of my clients and their mixed balloons of emotions metaphor. Do you resonate with any of these?

My Emotional Balloons...

I'm holding tight because they are mine,
It’s what I do to keep myself fine,
It’s the only word that I ever say,
When people ask me how I’m feeling today.

Am I fine? Am I? Though really?
It’s what is expected, be positive! be cheery!
But if I could name all the emotions I really feel,
Then would it make me more congruent, more real?

So here we go let me hold on tight,
To allow my balloons to float into sight,
Sometimes what I really want to say,
Is actually, I’m not really feeling that great today!

I’m feeling scared, anxious, sad, and worried,
I’m feeling angry, empty, Lost, and hurried,
I’m feeling tired, confused, not quite tip-top
My already deflated balloons are ready to pop.

I’m feeling afraid, belittled, weary, small,
I’m feeling lack-lustre about to fall,
I’m feeling timid, fed up, overwhelmed, shaking
I feel my balloons are at the point of breaking.

I’m feeling low, and unenthusiastically berated,
I’m feeling stressed, insecure, totally frustrated.
I’m feeling unimportant, unheard, with dread
I’m holding my balloons by the merest of thread.

I’m feeling so many different things today,
A cacophony of balloons with no sound,… but hey,
The emotions make all the noises they choose,
I’m the dealer with the greatest hand to lose!

My emotions are at the core of my being,
They are all consuming they are all unseeing,
So next time you ask me how I feel,
Just pause for a sec… and think of my emotional deal.

Try to look beyond to what I actually say,
By noticing the emotional balloons stuck in my way,
I’m hoping now that you really do see,
This wall of complex emotions that make up me!!

TLC HUB 2020

Letting Go of Unwanted Emotions

A real mixed haul of emotions..

We all have them, we all carry them, and sometimes we just do not know what to do with them! Emotions are complicated parts of ourselves that can cause great happiness and complete despair! By naming and understanding our emotions it may unlock an awareness from within and provide an inner calmness. Quite frankly who does not want that!

Over the years much research has been carried out about our emotions. Some researchers argue that there are 8 main emotions, others say 6 but I am going to go that extra mile and go with 5. There are 5 core emotions that we carry as human beings. The rest have just become extended versions of these 5.

So What are Our Main Emotions?

  • Joy
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Disgust
Our 5 core emotions

The concept of core or “primary” emotions is not a new one. It is based on the premise that we, as humans, are “hardwired” with a defined set of basic emotions that have evolved in response to basic survival needs. However nothing is ever that simple is it? We are complex beings and therefore our emotions have inherently become complex too.

Now lets turn that 5 into over 100 hundred different emotions ‘Woah what’ I hear you say… There are three main factors which contribute to the complexity of labelling our emotions:

(1) The intensity in which we feel a core emotion can vary 

(2) We can combine two or more core emotions at once

(3) We can mix core different emotions of varying intensities.

We can feel any of the core emotions with differing levels of intensity, and the intensity in which we feel any one of the five core emotions in and of itself establishes a new emotion. When emotional intensity is factored into the equation of labelling how we feel, we quickly expand beyond 5 core emotions into a spectrum of hundreds of emotions.

How the 5 core emotions expand into many complex emotions. Do you resonate with any of these?

 Combining Emotions  

We rarely feel just one emotion at a time that would make life far too easy! Instead, our emotional experiences are typically made up of feeling  a combination of emotions simultaneously. When this happens, the combined emotions establish a new emotion, with its own label.

For example using the diagram above, a feeling of angry and disgust results in feelings of contempt, or a feeling of joy and fear results in feelings of surprise.

Emotions Are Complex – So Find a Simple Way to Describe Them

The problem with simplifying our experiences to only one of the 5 core emotions is that it often negates the intensity or complexity of how we really feel. With the range of emotions growing exponentially due to intensity and our ability to combine and mix emotions, the complexities in communicating to others how we feel also increases. 

This is why it is so important to teach our young children about emotions, how complex they can be and how to label them appropriately.. Only when we understand how we use our 5 core emotions can we teach children so they can find the right label to best communicate what they truly really feel. The Disney Pixar movie Inside Out demonstrated the 5 core embodied emotions perfectly!

The five core emotions as depicted by the Disney Movie Inside Out: Sadness, Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust.

So How Do We Capture Our Emotions ?

  • Try to talk to those closest to you about what you are feeling/thinking.
  • Try to write them down in a notebook or a journal.
  • Try to capture them in the moment as they appear the negative ones too: sad, fearful, angry. We are taught as young children to repress our negative emotions. It then can make us feel guilty/shamed when we do use them!
  • Accept your emotions all of them it makes you more comfortable with them.
  • Try to embrace them as they come in and go with what you are feeling.
  • Try to not supress them as this will lead to more complex deep rooted emotions.
  • Give yourself some space by being kind to yourself. Time to adjust to what you are feeling.
  • If your feeling it say so, people always prefer an honest approach. ‘I can’t come to the cinema tonight as i’m feeling really sad because my cat died (own it!)
  • Knowing when to express your emotions- self regulation is the key. There is a time and place for everything. Shouting your head off in the middle of Waterloo Station is perhaps not the best way to express your emotions.
  • Look at the stressors in your life, the more stressed we become the more havoc stress plays on our emotions.
  • Wave goodbye to toxic friends and family, quite frankly if they make you feel less than then its time to get rid of the emotional baggage they leave you with! You are truly worth so much more.

Thanks for reading this blog hopefully it explained a bit about those complicated things called emotions!

Learn to embrace all emotions you may feel the sad, the not sure and the happy ones…

450 hours!

450 client hours have now been accrued towards BACP Accreditation

It sounds like its should be a title for a movie that has you suspended at gripped at every turn, but actually 450 hours is very significant number over at the TLC HUb. Last years the Hub’s Director Nicky Bates was struggling to accrue the 100 hours needed to pass her foundation degree course in Humanisitc and Gestalt Counselling. Fast forward 1 year and she now has clocked up a staggering 457 hours which means she can now apply for BACP accreditation. This is fine recognition in the counselling world!

The TLC Hub is really going from strength to strength with 37 clients on their books, working with all sectors of the community such as Police, Army, Nurses, civil servants, teachers and many more. We have won major contacts with Local councils and have been working closely with community groups. On average we are receiving approximately 2-3 new enquires a week. At this rate we will be taken on more staff to assist with this busy quirky practice.

It is called Humankind for a reason!

Be a nice human is it really too much to ask!

Really though, it seems today’s society is anything but kind! Following the recent tragic death of TV personality Caroline Flack on the 15th of February 2020, the TLC Hub would like to dedicate this blog to her and to all the other people who have committed suicide or are contemplating suicide.

Her Instagram post of the 5th of November ‘in a world where you can be anything be kind’ is now being used as a slogan on a t-shirt produced by fashion company In The Style. The t-shirt made 100k in the first day of launch and all the proceeds were donated to the Samaritans https://www.samaritans.org/. As a counsellor this fills my heart with joy in supporting mental health, but for Caroline, and for the millions of other people, it has sadly come far to late!

We were writing this back in 2018!

The Director of the TLC Hub uploaded the above Instagram post back in October 2018. Sadly 2 years on nothing has changed with suicide statics ever increasing. The Samaritans report that suicide figures in the UK in 2018, were 6,507 deaths by suicide (a rate of 11.2 deaths per 100,000 people). Overall, men accounted for three-quarters of UK deaths by suicide. The Statistics sadly highlights deaths by suicide are on an increase and rose by 10.9% in the UK in 2018.

So why is it so important to be kind?

All human beings to be considered collectively.
  • Firstly and most importantly everyone on this planet matters. No matter of your race, ethnicity or background. This is known as humankind!
  • Everyone has a right to their own opinions, and the choices they choose to make.
  • Kindness is a quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
  • Being kind often requires courage and strength and is an interpersonal skill.
  • Devoting resources to others, rather than having more and more for yourself, brings about lasting well-being.
  • Kindness is a willingness to full-heartedly celebrate someone else’s successes and tell them so!
  • Kindness is also about telling the truth in a gentle way when doing so is helpful to the other person.
  • Kindness includes being kind to yourself, giving yourself the time and space you need for self-care. In order to look after others we must be kind to ourselves first.
  • it can help you make positive connection to others
  • Kindness can accelerate the healing process.
  • Kindness is an act of giving without the act of receiving.
  • It can boost someone’s self esteem, and someone’s self worth. Demonstrating the first point that everyone matters!

Kindness could create like a domino effect!

Have you heard of the term the domino effect? This can best be described as, a chain reaction that has a cumulative effect produced when one event sets off a of similar events. The term is best known as a mechanical effect and is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes. It typically refers to a linked sequence of events where the time between successive events is relatively small. It can be used literally (an observed series of actual collisions) or metaphorically (causal linkages within systems such as global politics, society fads also known as the ripple effect). The term domino effect is used both to imply that an event is inevitable or highly likely (as it has already started to happen). You could offer that Caroline’s unprecedented t-shirt sell out has created a domino effect. Sadly though, she will never actually know how much she was truly loved by our KIND nation and our KIND hearts!

The colourful rainbow domino effect!
Thanks to In the Style for making a stance on mental heath! Hopefully more precious lives can be saved!!

Useful links if you or someone you know is suicidal!

Talk to someone you trust

Let family or friends know what’s going on for you. They may be able to offer support and help keep you safe. There’s no right or wrong way to talk about suicidal feelings – starting the conversation is what’s important.

Who else you can talk to

If you find it difficult to talk to someone you know, you could:

  • call your GP – ask for an emergency appointment
  • call 111 out of hours – they will help you find the support and help you need
  • contact your mental health crisis team – if you have one

Samaritans Tel Number 116 123

website https://www.samaritans.org/

Calm (Campaign Against living Miserably) Helpline for men.

Tel Number 0800 58 58 58

Papyrus– for people under 35

Tel Number 0800 068 41 41

Childline for young people under 19

Tel Number 0800 1111


What the Counsellor Cannot Possibly See!

These beautiful flowers omit an invisible light that the human eye can not see!

This stunning picture was taking at night using a special UV camera to demonstrate what light flowers emit that are not visible to the naked eye. This got me thinking about humans and what is not seen by the counsellor during the sessions.

What the Counsellor does not see is the client’s thoughts, the client’s fears or the depth of their presenting issue. The counsellor cannot possibly see the client’s vulnerability. You cannot see the courage it takes for the client to just sit there and not bolt right out of the door! We cannot see their anxiety, stress or the whirling thought processes. We cannot see OCD, depression or bi-polar.

As a counsellor we cannot possibly see the weight the client has been dragging around with them from their past into their here and now. Which could ultimately ruin their future. We cannot see the complicated layers they have built in the unconscious, often unavailable parts of their minds. We cannot see the trauma they have encountered or the pain they may have endured.

Amazing to think what actually we cannot see!

We cannot see their attachment style or how they bonded to an early care giver. We cannot see what love means to them, or how they possibly do or do not absorb it. We cannot see the often anxious fragility of their minds, or the terror that sits behind their eyes! We cannot see the loneliness that invades their core being.

What I see in my Gestalt capacity, is a person sat in front of me who is waiting to be seen!

TLC Hub 2020

January Blues..

It is said that January is the most difficult month of the year for some people. Is it fact or fiction read on to make up your own mind!

So the tree, the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations are down. The lounge looks sparse, and unwanted Christmas presents sit in neat piles in the corner of the room. We have returned to work, and the weather outside is dark and gloomy. The wallet and credit card have taken a massive hammering at the not so discounted sales, and whilst the embers of Christmases past stay lingering in your mind, is it any wonder that January is deemed the hardest month of the year!

Fact- January is the second month of winter gaining between 90 seconds and two minutes of daylight each day.

Fact-January’s reputation as a month of endings and beginnings has carried on throughout history. The fact that we have 365 days to write a new chapter can only be a good thing!

Fiction-Blue Monday is the name given to the third week in January claiming it to be the most depressing day of the year. The concept was first publicised as part of a 2005 press release from holiday company Sky Travel, which claimed to have calculated the date using an equation.

However depression suffers will know it is not that simple! A statement on Mind’s websites says: “Here at Mind, we think it’s dangerously misleading.

“Those of us who live with depression know that those feelings aren’t dictated by the date.

“Implying that they are perpetuates the myth that depression is just ‘feeling a bit down’, something that doesn’t need to be taken seriously.”

Blue Monday fact or fiction?

Fiction- New year new me! Wrong same you different perspectives maybe? We all do it… this is the year that I will loose weight, save for my dream holiday, be dry for January, join the gym. Why does it have to be just January why can we not have dreams and aspirations all year round!

SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder

Is this really a thing? Do people suffer from lack of daylight hours? Where did it even stem from?

Fact- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter.

The exact cause of SAD isn’t fully understood, but it’s often linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days. The main theory is that a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect the:

  • production of melatonin – melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy; in people with SAD, the body may produce it in higher than normal levels
  • production of serotonin – serotonin is a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep; a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is linked to feelings of depression
  • body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) – your body uses sunlight to time various important functions, such as when you wake up, so lower light levels during the winter may disrupt your body clock and lead to symptoms of SAD
SAD…. thought to be due to lack of sunlight hours in the winter months!

How to beat the blues anytime of year!

It’s time to crawl out from under the duvet and try these tips to keep the momentum going and, for possibly the first time ever, beat the blues at anytime of the year!


Take more vitamin D Studies are constantly reiterating the mood-boosting benefits of this vital vitamin. However, as our skin largely manufactures vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, it’s also regularly highlighted that, during the dark winter months, we probably aren’t getting our recommended daily dose. Plus, along with improving your mood, topping up on vitamin D can help strengthen the immune system and keep bones and teeth healthy.

Cautious on the comfort eating front, the stodge, the left over Christmas goodies. There are several reasons we sometimes resort to food for comfort, particularly at this time of year. An exaggerated craving for carbohydrates in winter can actually be a sign of SAD. Overeating in winter may also simply be due to the fact that we’re indoors more and we’re cold! Eating a well balanced diet all year round should alleviate your desire to scoff in the winter!


Keep moving…the novelty of your new gym regime is probably wearing off by now. Exercise releases the happy hormone serotonin and, as well as being important for health, regular exercise will boost the positive results of all your healthy eating efforts – so keep going! It is also a great way to reduce stress. If your workout is feeling more chore than choice, make sure you’re giving your body everything it needs to perform at its best. Exercise all year round not just in the summer months!


Why sleep is so important at anytime of year!

More sleep, with partying season long behind you its now time to replenish those sleep stores! Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.

Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you’re sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It’s forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information. Studies show that a good night’s sleep improves learning. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative.

Studies also show that sleep deficiency alters activity in some pathways of the brain. If you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behaviour.

Connect with Nature

Nature at it’s finest!

It has long been proven that connecting with nature has had many therapeutic benefits. Over at the TLC Counselling HUB being near the sea is our grin and tonic!

Nature is good for us. There’s plenty of evidence that exposure to nature is good for people’s health, well-being and happiness – with green spaces even promoting prosocial behaviours. Less is known about why nature is good for us. Simply put, nature is good for us because we are part of nature. We are human animals evolved to make sense of the natural world and this embeddedness in the natural world can often be forgotten and overlooked.

Mentally, we can become disconnected from nature because we’re now deeply embedded in a human-made world. Emerging research is showing that knowing and feeling this connection with nature is also good for us, and it helps bring about the wider health benefits of exposure to nature. Knowing your place in nature brings meaning and joy

(Dr Miles Richardson 2019).
How nature can affect our mental health any time of the year!
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Tipping Point

How Far do you tip??

We all get there to the tipping point

but it’s how far we let our minds go

It can happen in a super speedy moment

or overtime and generally very slow.

We can all get pushed and pulled

until we are broken beyond all doubt

but it’s what we do and how far we go

And how loud we are prepared to scream and shout.

Some people suffer in silence

so you never know their truth

others demonstrate unreasonably unkind behaviour

 and their destruction is their proof.

The fragility of the human mind

can snap in an instant for sure

Who are we to judge what each one suffers

unless it’s knocking at our very own door.

some people seek help and get better

some people seek no help for sure

in order for your mind to be free and at peace

Inwardly it’s always better to settle the score.

I am no expert in mental health

but I do know certain distractions

if you want to have a healthy mindset

you need to be prepared to put in certain self-help actions.

We all have darkness and terribly bad days

but tomorrow is always a new start

If only you could see the brilliance of you

it would hopefully mend your lost heart.

As humans it’s really very simple

we just need to love and be loved

there are no magical cures or potions

or even guidance from whatever’s above.

Next time you’re feeling dark and alone

with nothing else to ponder on or see

tell yourself this very simple sentence

I have time, I have now, so let me help me.