How blue is your winter?

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3 to 6 per cent  of people in the UK experience SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, as the hours of daylight get shorter so our mood can alter, we feel less optimistic and less social. Up to 13 per cent of people experience something less severe in what's known as 'the winter blues'. Truth be told, statistics aside, there can't be many people in the Northern hemisphere who don't at some point in the winter months feel like cancelling plans and hibernating under the duvet until spring comes around. Even fun things seem like a chore if you have to wrap up in 3 layers and slip on icy paths to get there. Scientifically, the lack of light is said to affect our hypothalamus which regulates our hormones, mood, sleep and appetite, so it's no wonder we favour all of those comfort foods instead of the healthy stuff we ate in the summer.

So what can we do, short of moving south for the winter? Some people get relief from daylight-simulation lamps and there is a lot to be said for taking vitamin D - the vitamin we get from sunlight and of course we're all better off for getting out as much as we can in the little daylight we do have. But there's a little trick you can do in just a few minutes that can pep up even the darkest, dullest winter and that is to play a trick on your brain.

When you hear a ghost story or horrific news item, you don't need to see it happen for your heart to race or your mind to react. This is your brain responding to stimulus EVEN THOUGH IT'S NOT HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. How mad is that?

The good news of course is that it works for good things too. When you remember a great holiday experience, especially if you take a little time to think about what you could see, hear and feel, you find you can almost taste the salty air, the sangria or the candyfloss.

So, here's where I'm going to help. Below is a YouTube link that will bring you a bucket load of sunshine wherever you are, to use again and again whenever you need a little extra vitamin D. Relax, kick back and let the suns rays warm your eyelids. Your brain may even simulate a little imaginary vitamin D as a result. Either way up, it's a little time - 18 minutes actually - of time for you to escape the rat race and enjoy a little 'Winter Sunshine'.

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