You may be surprised to learn that during this festive season, where we are supposed to feel jolly and merry, almost half of men admit that they are at their most depressed. The Samaritans conducted an online poll in which 48% of men said they felt low in December compared to other times of the year. The gender differences are stark although the advice here should be considered by women as well. In addition to this, a three-year survey by researchers in Japan found many complaints of depression and anxiety amongst workers.
More Studies Find Similar Results of Depression
Their sample of 25,000 workers found that individuals were more reluctant to wake up to go to work in the mornings, and suffered from insomnia and increased irritability in correlation with the amount of time that they spent in front of their computer.
Lead researcher Dr Tetsuya Nakazawa is quoted as follows: ‘"This result suggests the prevention of mental disorders and sleep disorders requires the restriction of computer use to less than five hours a day.”
There is increased concern over mental health issues caused by working with computers as opposed to humans. Those that work more than five hours per day isolated at a commuter terminal were much more vulnerable to psychological disorders.
Psychology Professor Cary Cooper from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology is reported to have said the following:
'We are finding that people are working with machines as opposed to other people. The problem is not just sitting in front of a computer but the fact that people don't take a break and cannot prioritise what they are doing. They are overloaded then they worry about the work they are not doing.’
Research was conducted by studying individuals in various jobs and working environments, and of course different computers. Despite this the results have been consistent, and it therefore seems likely that the results are linked directly to time spent in front of a computer screen.
How to Combat Winter Depression
The study discussed here suggests that limiting the time spent in front of a computer can have a real impact on levels of happiness, helping to reduce episodes of depression and insomnia.
So it makes sense to intersperse your work time with breaks, chats and walks outside with fresh air and nature.
Book days away from the computer altogether for maximum benefit. This will also help to combat the headaches, eye strain and back ache associated with spending too much time working at a screen.
SAD is often quoted as the cause for people feeling low in the winter. This ‘seasonal affective disorder’ has been studied in depth and it is suggested that our neurobiological structure is designed to slow down in the darker months. Much like a low level hibernation, we find ourselves feeling lethargic with little enthusiasm or energy to enjoy the things we do in summer months. This can be quite pronounced in individuals that suffer with SAD.
Light therapy could play a part in providing some respite from this lethargy, as the rays of light on skin can boost the body into action, in essence tricking the cells into waking up from their winter slumber.
Continuing the metaphor of winter hibernation, people often struggle with carbohydrate cravings at this time of year, which causes a downward spiral as the sugar spikes and crashes consuming the wrong type or excess carbohydrates causes. It could be beneficial therefore to focus on eating healthy slow burning carbohydrates that provide a stable blood sugar and gradual release of energy.
Another suggestion to combat this seasonal sadness could be to balance the microflora in the gut. Afterall the majority of serotonin (the feel good hormone) is produced in the gut, so something as simple as taking a pre and pro-biotic supplement for at least 6 months prior to winter beginning could make an enormous difference to your happiness levels.
Don’t Let Depression Beat You - Fight Back!
There are many ways to combat this depression that can occur during this Winter and Christmas season. Some of the most effective ways to tackle feeling down, or rather prevent feeling down in the first place, are often the simplest too.
Such as getting plenty of fresh air whilst at work or at home, engaging in something fun after work such as a dance class or yoga class, and ensuring you take plenty of time away from the computer before it starts to make you feel down. Of course we cannot forget that eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of clean purified alkaline water will also help to keep your body ‘awake’, alert and happy.