Although the holiday season is a wonderful time of year, a lot of people feel a lot less jolly than expected around this time of year. I know that as soon as the days start getting shorter and I’m walking home in the dark everyday that I’m feeling a lot moodier, unhappier and just not quite myself. This is often an indication of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Fortunately these are mild symptoms and I can function normally in my job and personal life. Unfortunately, 3% of the UK population suffer will full symptoms which affects their everyday lives drastically and affects everyday functions. Whereas 20% of the UK have mild symptoms which often go undiagnosed.

Symptoms of SAD

  • A constant low mood
  • Depression
  • Sleeping too much and experiencing fatigue
  • Gaining weight and food cravings
  • Decreased interest in social and everyday activities

What causes the Winter Blues?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD and the Winter Blues often occurs just as we start to run into the beginning of winter. As the days go shorter we often lack the natural sun light we are used to from the Summer months.

This is said to affect three different things in the body. First is the production of melatonin which is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. This production is increased with less sunlight. The second is the production of serotonin lowers. This is the hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep and is also a main hormone that is affected during depression. The last thing is your circadian rhythms or your body clock which also affects your sleeping and eating habits.

How do you beat the winter blues?

One of the big factors to try and beat SAD is to get as much light as you can while you can. Get natural light by trying to fit in morning walks or get out of the office at lunch time before it gets dark. You can also try light therapy*. Often your doctor will let you know if you need one, and there’s different types and brightness levels for them.

Changing up your diet can also help. Although eating a healthy and balanced diet all year round is important, you need to think a bit more about which foods will help increase your mood in winter. Eating more good carbs such as whole fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds etc. will help combat the carb cravings often associated with SAD. Mood boosting foods are also important. Most fish has an abundance of lean proteins, omega 3, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D all of which help boost your mood. Other foods that include these will also help. If you struggle to incorporate some ingredients into your diet then supplements may also help. Both vitamin D and fish oil supplements can help.

Regular exercise, whether it’s a brisk walk or a full gym session will help to reduce symptoms of depression. The endorphin released alongside being outside helps to increase your overall mood as well as positively impact your health. The best time to go for a run, walk or hike would be while it’s still light although you’ll still get some benefits if you only have time in the evenings.

Becoming mindful and meditation can help to lift your mood. Being mindful that you’re feeling moodier and less like yourself means you can immediately take action to make yourself feel better. Meditation itself is said to release serotonin and melatonin which helps boost your mood and are two of the main hormones affected by SAD.

Ensure that self care is a priority. When you’re affected by SAD, it’s often difficult to do normal everyday things such as cooking food, sleeping on time, staying awake in the day etc. Forcing yourself to do these things will help you to not fall into a cycle of poor self care and being depressed.

Another thing is to keep in touch with friends and family. Talking to people and taking part in social activities will help you to not feel so alone. Whether you talk over how you feel or not, being around someone you trust will often boost your mood anyway.

And of course, if you’re feeling really rough, it’s always okay to go to the doctors.  They will be able to give you medical advice and prescriptions if needed and will give you a lot better advice than what you can find on the internet.

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If Netflix isn’t quite fulfilling your Christmas film needs then there’s also an abundance on Amazon Prime Video.

A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story Poster

 

In the 1940s, a young boy named Ralphie attempts to convince his parents, his teacher, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect Christmas gift.

 

 

Christmas with the Coopers

Love the Coopers Poster

 

The intertwined stories of four generations of Coopers unfold right before the annual family reunion on Christmas Eve.

 

 

Elf

Elf Poster

After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S. in search of his true identity.

 

 

 

Four Christmases

Four Christmases Poster

 

A couple struggles to visit all four of their divorced parents on Christmas.

 

 

 

Home for Christmas

Home for Christmas Poster

Beth Prince has always loved fairytales and now she feels like she’s finally on the verge of her own happily ever after; a dream job in a charming independent cinema by the seaside and a gorgeous boyfriend. There’s just one problem – no man has ever told her they love her. Desperate to hear those crucial three little words for the first time Beth takes matters into her own hands – and wishes she hasn’t.

 

Jack Frost

Jack Frost Poster

 

A father who can’t keep his promises, dies in a car accident. One year later, he returns as a snowman, who has the final chance to put things right with his son, before he is gone forever.

 

 

 

Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You

All I Want for Christmas Is You Poster

The film centers on young Mariah, a little girl who dreams of getting a dog for Christmas year after year. This Christmas her dream is fueled after seeing a puppy named Princess at the local pet store. To see if she’s ready for the responsibility, Mariah is tasked with dog-sitting her uncle’s crazy canine Jack, who upends the family’s holiday preparations with his various shenanigans.

 

Nativity

Nativity! Poster

 

 

An improvised comedy based around a school nativity play.

 

Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger

Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger! Poster

 

 

A worried new teacher has to juggle a pregnant wife and a class of children on a road trip to the National ‘Song for Christmas’ Competition.

 

 

Nativity 3 Dude, Where’s my Donkey?!

Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?! Poster

The pupils of St Bernadette’s and the madcap Mr Poppy are back! When their new teacher Mr Shepherd loses his memory as well as Archie the Donkey, it’s up to them to save the day and reunite him with his fiancée Sophie in New York. Prepare for a race against time, fantastic flashmobs and plenty of Christmas fun on their greatest adventure yet.

 

Scrooged

Scrooged Poster

 

A selfish, cynical T.V. executive is haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve

 

 

The Holiday

The Holiday Poster

 

Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other’s countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love.

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It’s Christmas time which means lots of nights in snuggled up in blankets and ready to watch Christmas films. On Netflix there’s plenty of classics to watch such as Deck the Halls and Love Actually and also some new additions, including A Christmas Prince.

A Christmas Detour

A Christmas Detour Poster

 

A bride-to-be, a heart broken guy and a happily married couple hitch an emergency ride to NYC, learning about each other and themselves along the way.

 

 

A Christmas Prince

A Christmas Prince Poster

 

When a reporter goes undercover as a tutor to get the inside scoop on a playboy prince, she gets tangled in some royal intrigue and ends up finding love – but will she be able to keep up her lie?

 

A Wish for Christmas

A Wish For Christmas Poster

 

Sara Thomas prefers to sit on the sidelines but when her idea for a Christmas initiative is stolen, she makes a wish to Santa that she’ll have the courage to stand up for herself. Santa grants her wish, but only for 48 hours. As the clock ticks, Sara will discover how to channel the Christmas magic and speak her mind all on her own.

 

Angel of Christmas

Angel of Christmas Poster

 

When Susan sets out to write an article about her family’s heirloom Christmas angel, it leads her to accidentally meet Brady, a cute, upbeat artist. But will the 100-year-old, hand-carved angel, whose legend includes the power to bring people together, prove a game-changer for the skeptical Susan as it moves her closer to Brady–and to a surprising truth about the ornament itself?

 

Arthur Christmas

Arthur Christmas Poster

 

Santa’s clumsy son Arthur gets put on a mission with St. Nick’s father to give out a present they misplaced to a young girl in less than 2 hours.

 

 

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve PosterHilarity, romance, and transcendence prevail after a power outage traps six different groups of New Yorkers inside elevators on Christmas Eve.

 

 

 

Deck the Halls

Deck the Halls Poster

 

Two neighbors have it out after one of them decorates his house for the holidays so brightly that it can be seen from space.

 

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas Poster

 

After a break up, Jenny moves in with writer Kelly, her filmmaker husband, and their child. Despite a rocky start, Jenny’s influence helps Kelly realize that an evolution in her life, career and relationship is necessary for her happiness.

 

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

I'll Be Home for Christmas Poster

 

Jackie Foster (Suvari), is a dynamic Assistant District Attorney and single mom. But when Jackie’s estranged dad, Jack (Brolin), a gruff retired police officer, unexpectedly shows up at her door, they will be forced to confront old wounds.

 

Jingle All The Way

Jingle All the Way Poster

 

A father vows to get his son a Turbo Man action figure for Christmas, however, every store is sold out of them, and he must travel all over town and compete with everybody else in order to find one.

 

 

Last Holiday

Last Holiday Poster

 

Upon learning of a terminal illness, a shy woman (Queen Latifah) decides to sell off all her possessions and live it up at a posh European hotel.

 

 

 

Love Actually

Love Actually Poster

 

Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.

 

Mandie and the Forgotten Christmas

Mandie and the Forgotten Christmas Poster

 

While visiting her school’s forbidden attic, Mandie stumbles upon the mystery of a long forgotten Christmas.

 

Miracle on 34th Street

Miracle on 34th Street Poster

 

A lawyer and a little girl must prove that a man claiming to be Santa Claus is the real thing.

 

 

Once Upon a Holiday

Once Upon a Holiday Poster

 

When a princess escapes her entourage to explore New York over Christmas, she meets a young man who shows the beautiful stranger his side of the city.

 

 

Scrooged

Scrooged Poster

 

A selfish, cynical T.V. executive is haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve

 

 

The Night Before

The Night Before Poster

 

On Christmas eve, three lifelong friends spend the night in New York City looking for the Holy Grail of Christmas parties.

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  1. Saaf Enriching Hair Oil – £19.99 – Fight the dry hair this winter with a wonderful hair oil.
  2. Neal’s Yard Remedies Frankincense Intense Lift Serum – £75.00  – Fight the winter blues with this relaxing and lifting serum.
  3. Organic Shop Body Scrub Brazilian Coffee – £2.99 – Pamper with a coffee twist.
  4. Jasmine Night Conditioner – £35.00 – Make your skin the most vibrant this Christmas.
  5. Naturica Siberica Northern Cleansing Black Face Mask – £13.99 – Face mask applied. Candles Lit. Netflix binge started.
  6. Body Desserts Strawberry Jam Deep Cleansing Body Scrub – £9.99 – Cleanse and renew your skin with a sweet fruity smell.
  7. Saaf Eraser Body Oil – £24.99 – Banish those dry patches before they appear with body oil.
  8. Neal’s Yard Remedies Bee Lovely All Over Balm – £27.00 – Honey, honey, how you thrill me.
  9. Naturica Siberica Natural Face Care Kit – £13.99 – Renew your face routine as the nights get darker.
  10. Body Desserts Candy Floss Ant Stress Bath Foam – £6.99 – Turn your bath into a sweet treat.
  11. Organic Shop Hair Mask Honey & Avocado – £2.49 – We go together like avocado and literally everything.
  12. Oy! Clear Skin Cleansing Moisturiser – £11.00 – Moisturise. Moisturise. Moisturise.
  13. Peppermint, Tea Tree & Eucalyptus Face Wash – £32.95 – This face wash and you are mint to be.
  14. Saaf Ultimate Moisture Face Serum – £19.99 – Brighten up your fatigued skin with this serum.
  15. Natura Siberica Energising Facial Mask – £4.70 – Get energised.
  16. Antioxidant Face Serum – £84.00 – Fine lines and wrinkles have no place at the dinner table for a Christmas dinner.
  17. Organic Shop Anti Stress Bath Foam Clay Sage & Orchid – £3.99 – De-stress over the holidays.
  18. Damask Rose Facial Oil – £29.99 – No amount of cold winds will dry out your skin.
  19. Natura Siberica Black Cleansing Micellar Water – £12.99 – Cleaning away all the pollutants from your Christmas shopping in the city.
  20. Skin Rescue Oil – £37.95 – Always keep a back up plan in case an emergency dry spot arises.
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At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. But the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand the trouble the eight year old Nona Grey brings with her. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #1)

Red Sister is set on a new world of Abeth where there’s only a small strip of land around the equator that isn’t covered in ice. Lawrence wonderfully sets up the world in Red Sister as the start of his new trilogy of fantasy books. I’m so intrigued about so many different things within this world. I want to learn more about the people who live on the ice. I kind of want to learn about how the world ended up only as a strip of habitable land. Plus I just really want to know more about the characters.

One of the amazing things about this book is that all of the main characters are strong female characters. We spend most of the book at Sweet Mercy convent and in this series, Nuns are badass. They are tough, independent and most of all fleshed out properly. Each character has their own attributes and personalities and they are not all templates of a YA sword wielding female.  As far as a I know this is Lawrence’s first book with a female MC and I think he’s really written Nona and the other sisters really well without falling into cliches.

 

My one issue is the slow pace of most of the book. As I mentioned above, most of the book we’re at Sweet Mercy convent. This means the majority of the book is watching Nona being trained. This meant up until near the end it was very slow to read, and the book felt much longer than it actually was. But it is a really good set up for the rest of the series as the world and characters have been built up so extensively throughout the training.

I loved the magic system in this world and can’t wait to see more of it. The ‘Path’ and how it’s used is really interesting to read about from Nona’s perspective, and also the other sisters who use it and use it differently. I’m really intrigued into how much more learning there is to come in Grey Sister about this. Along with this, I want to learn more about the shiphearts that are buried and how these are connected with the magic in this world.

One of my main positives for this book is that it is not a ‘Chosen One’ story. It’s really pushed by the characters in the book that prophecy’s aren’t real, and that the faith in prophecy’s is usually what causes them to become true. It’s also emphasised that it’s not always who you expect to be the chosen one, and there’s a lot of political intrigue and manipulation around this. Sister Glass in particular is of interest as we’re not really sure what she has to gain or lose and why she’s playing the game the way she is.

Positives

+ Wonderfully vivid world building

+ Loved the magic system

+ Not a ‘chosen one’ story

+ Strong mostly female characters

Negatives

– Slow pace

 

Overall, I am really excited to read Grey Sister the next in the series! I received Red Sister* by Mark Lawrence from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an unbiased and honest review.

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