Are counting down the days until the weather is better, until you can get out in the garden again? You are not alone: research conducted by YouGov and The Weather Channel found that 29% of the population suffers from a degree of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the winter. The research was commissioned to highlight how much of an impact the changeable weather has on the population’s wellbeing.
SAD is a complex, depressive illness. It is thought to most likely be triggered by the lack of sunlight in winter which affects levels of the hormones melatonin and serotonin in the part of the brain controlling mood, sleep and appetite.
The treatments often advised to help people manage SAD are to get as much natural sunlight as possible and to exercise regularly which in turn, helps to manage stress levels: activities which gardeners are already undertaking as part of life in the garden.
We don’t often garden in the dark so the very act of being in natural light allows the body the best chance of producing vitamin D and regulating hormone levels.
Gardening in turn, is physical activity which gets the body moving, be that only in gently walking around the garden or in more strenuous activities like digging or mulching, which can still be overtaken in the shorter days of winter.
Even if you only manage a cursory meander around the garden for 20 minutes every other day, take a notepad or camera with you and start to record where changes or improvements or new planting or projects could take place in the garden. As well as physical activity, you will be stimulating mental activity and creating something to which to look forward.
The links between wellbeing and weather are strong and if you find that your overall mood is worse in the winter compared to the summer, maybe it’s time to take a walk on the wild side and get out into the garden.
If you feel you need to talk to someone or need more information on Seasonal Affective Disorder, then contact MIND or talk to your GP.