Monday, 29 October 2012

SAD Action Plan 2012

Last year Seasonal Affective Disorder bought me almost to a standstill. Since then I've read about it and gathered together information to help me with it this year. In case you are affected too here's my SAD action plan:


Foods that are slow burning and help to prevent your blood sugar levels from crashing; fill up on these!

  • Raw fruit and veg
  • Plain popcorn (can add a tiny bit of salt for flavour if you want but try it without)
  • Oats (you can add these to things like bolognaise!)
  • Raw, unsalted nuts (or roast them at home and eat without salt)
  • Peanut butter
  • Wholegrain bread and crackers, oatcakes
  • Oily fish (sardines, mackerel, salmon)
  • Wholegrain breakfast cereals

Foods to avoid as they spike then dip your blood sugar:

  • Sweets, chocolate, cakes and biscuits – refined sugars
  • White bread, white rice, pasta, potatoes
  • Caffeine (though it’s better if you have it with a slow burning snack)

So in general stay hydrated, fill up on raw fruit and veg, avoid too many refined sugar products. Weight gain can rocket in Winter so combine healthy, satisfying foods with gentle exercise.

Health and well being

  • Vitamin D may help – studies suggest there is a link
  • Get a light box and use it twice daily – in the morning and a couple of hours in the evening or before bed.
  • Gentle exercise; walking, swimming, some home exercise like weights and sit ups, Pilates stretches. Prevents weight gain and keeps your body functioning healthily.
  • Essential oils; if you have an oil burner burn a citrus oil (mandarin or grapefruit are good) in the mornings to stimulate you, and lavender at night to help you sleep. 6 drops of lavender in a bedtime bath is also good.
  • Bedtime routine; sleep disruption is a major symptom of SAD and can lock you into a vicious cycle. Get into a simple bedtime routine by turning off all screens (TV, computer) at least 20 mins before you turn in for the night as they trigger chemicals in the brain that can keep you awake. Take time to read a book and if anything’s playing on your mind write it down before getting into bed and set it aside for tomorrow, or add it to a to do list if it’s something you’re worried about forgetting – it helps to get it out of your head.
  • Keep warm; being cold can make you feel miserable when you’re already experiencing SAD. Wrap up well, keep your hands and feet warm if you suffer from bad circulation and keep your home evenly heated.
  • Stay hydrated; when you feel thirsty this is a sign that you’re already quite de-hydrated and your energy levels will suffer as a result. Dehydration also causes headaches and other aches and pains, and can even make digestion difficult. Keep a bottle full of water with you at home and at work and keep sipping.
  • Be easier on yourself; housework can wait, DIY can wait, major new projects can wait. Conserve your energy when you need to. Focus on gentle exercise and looking after yourself, and don’t take on more than you can handle. Treat yourself in the way you’d treat a loved one who was feeling the same.
  • Plan nice things to look forward to during Winter; set dates for a meal, a night away, a day out etc and Winter won’t look so bleak.
  • Make a sad to happy CD/MP3 compilation to gradually ease you out of a depressed mood and into a better one.

You might find it helpful to track how you’re feeling throughout Winter so that you can spot any triggers or patterns:


I hope this helps!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Onwards to week two of Stoptober

I've had a fun and cheap weekend of foraging for elderberries at long last, discovering that there's a large WW2 bunker in the park next door (closed off but there's an intriguing mound piled over it that we poked around on), having a friend visit and going on a near by ghost hunt (not cheap but paid for in full a couple of months ago). I've also been a useful little blueberry and started off a batch of elderberry, blackberry and raspberry wine and batch cooked 4 work lunches and 8 dinners (beef bolognaise, cottage pie and butter chicken). The wine makes use of the blackberries we picked and froze on our wedding anniversary and a load of raspberries we got for 35p awhile back. I'm pleased with the batch cooking as I've stretched £4 of beef to 4 x 2 person cottage pies, two meals worth of bolognaise and three burgers (the burgers are 100% beef but the bolognaise has oats to thicken it and add fibre, and the pies have pearl barley and veg mixed in).

I'm pretty happy with how the first week of Stoptober has gone. I've spent about £10 because I bought a work shirt from a charity shop and went swimming on Friday (expensive at £4.50 but I really enjoy it), and a drink and a pasty on Saturday (ooo, splashing out!). This is a big improvement on how I usually spend money; I've not nipped into any shops for 'just a quick look' or browsed Ebay or Amazon. There are a couple of little things I'd like to get for myself but they're non-essential and I'm determined to get used to walking away and seeing if I still want it a week or two later.

 This week I've got to pay the dentist £70, the library £6 (lost track of how many library books I'd got out, I could kick myself) and I need a new small flask for a long coach journey at the end of the week; it works out cheaper that the coffees I'll end up buying when I go there and back otherwise! I also need some milk and fruit. I've been reading other bloggers Stoptober plans and it's great motivation to stick with it. Right, so, I feel prepared for week two now and feel that I can improve on last week, dentist bill not included. 

Keep up the good work for week two everyone!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Day one of Stoptober and I've spent money! But in my defence £2 was towards re-stocking the tea and coffee drawer I share with a work colleague and £1 was for a pack of foil tins for when I do some batch cooking later this week (good for freezing cottage pies and fruit crumbles etc in) so I don't feel like I've 'frittered'.

The stockpile shop arrived tonight - it's huge! Should keep us going for awhile, we'll just need some fresh fruit, veg, meat and milk every week. The only trouble is we havn't really got room for it. Every cupboard is crammed full and it looks like we're prepared for a siege zombie lockdown/nuclear winter/hibernation. I shall have to scavenge some cardboard boxes from work when they're being chucked out to use for basement storage for tins and bottles. Mr CB looked a tad surprised when it was all unpacked and our living room was knee deep in provisions. But if it stops me from nipping to the shop for a tin of tomatoes and coming back with three bags of 'bargains' then it'll be worth it. The next step is to cook some batch meals for the freezer to have in for after work - I love all the free time that I can free up in an evening by preparing food in advance, especially in Winter when the evenings feel shorter anyway.

Yesterday I found a stash of bread flour and yeast that I bought months ago when it was buy one get one free in Tesco so I'm going to make bread rather than buy loaves until the flour runs out. I think I've got enough flour to make bread until Spring...! I got the bread maker out last night and tested the waters with a small white loaf. I used basil olive oil instead of plain oil and added dried basil too. It's soft and full of flavour; I could definitely get used to this.

Monday, 1 October 2012


Inspired by Frugal Queen (who isn't?!) and her mission to make October into Stoptober where finances are concerned, I've decided to join in and see if I can cut back needless spending this month. My bank account took a big start of month battering today with bills to pay, a big stockpiling grocery shop of non-perishables to last a couple of months, a textbook I need for my course (searched around and got it £5 cheaper than on Amazon though!) and an extra large credit card payment to get the debt dropping fast.

When the shopping gets delivered tomorrow night I'll have a kitchen and basement full of food and I'll just need to buy fresh stuff as and when. I've got a house filled with pre-paid entertainment - books, dvds, yarn, internet - and access to free exercise in the form of weights, sit ups etc and a big park next door, so when I think about it there isn't really much excuse for spending this week.

Let's see if I manage to behave...