In the northern hemisphere, from the start of Autumn, the days begin to shorten and the sun is much weaker. The fact is that from mid October until mid March the amount of natural daylight is limited by the Earth's position in relation to the sun. A lot of people who live more than 30 degrees north of the equator are then affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or so called 'winter blues' and it can be very debilitating.

The symptoms of SAD include lethargy, depression, food cravings, over eating, lack of interest in doing anything, mood swings, insomnia or other sleep disorders and a multitude of other debilitating symptoms. Those who suffer from SAD can have their lives seriously disrupted which can affect their jobs and their family lives. The good news is that these sufferers can get some help from things like; a healthy diet and exercise, medication, light therapy or even taking a holiday to somewhere sunny.

A carefully managed diet and exercise regimen can improve life for sufferers. Eating food rich in essential vitamins and minerals, whole foods and cutting out all processed foods, which of course is necessary for good health anyway, will help alleviate symptoms.

Eating at regular intervals will also help. Exercise also plays a part here as endorphins are released, plus the fact is that you will still remain fitter, all of which helps to make you feel well. Try to get outdoors every day for a little walk, or cycle, or run, or do whatever your preferred exercise is. Take up swimming or dancing, get that blood pumping!

Light therapy is now very common and can make a huge difference to those affected. These special lights emit a different type of light to standard light bulbs which simulates natural daylight. Some 80% of sufferers find that their symptoms reduce, some even have no symptoms at all when using the lights. Quality of life can be greatly improved and they can then lead a normal life. These lights are not a miracle cure but they can make a huge difference.

In the depths of winter if you can possibly manage a week or two in the tropics or even the southern hemisphere which can work wonders for SAD sufferers. So, when choosing your destination look for a region where you can get around 12 hours of daylight a day as this will not only boost your serotonin levels, but also your vitamin D input.

Make a little effort to enjoy life more, nobody else will do it for you and if you put in a little bit of effort you will feel better for it. Have a good laugh every day. There is nothing like laughing until it hurts so find something to make you laugh daily. Connect with other people, socializing will keep you busy and entertain you. You may even develop new friends and interests. Sitting around feeling glum will not help you at all, so do not do it!

For sufferers, winter can be miserable but with a little planning and forward thinking, it can be as much fun and enjoyable as the rest of the year.