The cold weather has extended its stay this year. We shall be lucky to see a bit of sun in the month of October. Do you struggle to get yourself out of bed when it’s cold? Do you crave stodgy comfort foods? Do you feel down and lethargic or tired all the time? If you answer yes to these questions, you are not alone.

Many people experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which usually occurs during cloudy, cold days with limited or no sunshine. Here is how to bring sunshine into your world when cold weather blues strike.

Spend time outdoors

Sunshine causes nerve messages to zoom through your brain and trigger the production of certain chemicals and hormones, such as serotonin – which makes us feel happy – and melatonin – which affects our energy levels.

If you stay indoors because the weather outside is cold, these chemicals could become unbalanced and your mood could take a dive. So spend as much time outdoors as you can even when the sun is not out.

Try light therapy

We are lucky to live in the tropics because even when it’s extremely cold, the sun will show its face at some point during the day. However, if you don’t feel like getting out, you could try light therapy, which is a great way to combat SAD. Spending a few minutes in a fully artificially lighted room or in a specially made light box could help alleviate the symptoms of SAD.

Manage food cravings

Food cravings and SAD go hand in hand. We get a serotonin boost from rich carbohydrates, such as chips, buttery mashed potatoes, cakes and biscuits. And while they lift the mood for a bit, they will also add pounds to your waistline, which might make you feel down and conscious of your appearance.

Get some healthy comfort foods such as muesli for breakfast or a hearty chicken or butternut squash risotto for lunch to supply all the mood-boosting B vitamins you need to combat SAD. When you are really in need of a healthy and comforting snack, try toasted wholegrain bread with mashed banana.