Let there be light

For HVAC workers there’s an added challenge as many are not only going to work in darkness but also then working in dark, dirty spaces.

A lack of sunlight can impact on your mental health and some people get seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It’s actually quite common in the UK. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, about three people in every 100 have significant winter depressions.

How do I know I’ve got it?
The symptoms are a low mood and a lack of interest in life, being less active than normal, sleeping more, changes in appetite and being unable to concentrate.

What are the causes?
The lack of light is believed to impact on production of the hormones melatonin and serotonin and disrupt the body’s biological clock.

What can I do?
The good news is simple things make a big difference. Some people sit in front of specialist light lamps every day. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence advises:

• Get as much natural sunlight as possible – even a brief lunchtime walk can be beneficial

• Make your work and home environments as light and airy as possible

• Sit near windows when you’re indoors

• Take plenty of outdoor exercise

• Eat a balanced diet.

NICE adds: “It can also be helpful to talk to your family and friends, so they understand how your mood changes during the winter.”

The CIPHE is also there to help.

Membership director Tim Sainty says: “One of the benefits of membership is a healthcare scheme. This includes free access to a comprehensive range of health and wellbeing services (see page 30), meaning you’ll have access to a team of specialists who are on hand to offer advice and reassurance.

“Nothing is more important to you than your health and the health of your family – especially at the

moment. Diagnosis and treatment can be dealt with efficiently, helping you to concentrate on getting well.”

Find out more

• Mental health charity Mind www.mind.org.uk

• The Lighhouse Club is a charity that provides wellbeing support to construction workers and their families www.lighthouseclub.org

• About Seasonal Affective Disorder www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/problems-disorders/seasonal-affective-disorder-(sad)

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