“Now is the winter of our discontent..”

Winter….

Don’t you just love it? The sparkling snow, the cosy nights in front of a roaring log fire, the sharp smell of frost and the icing sugar look on the trees? Love snuggling up in your favourite Araan wool jumper and settling down to a good book?

No?

Me too. Of course, those are all the pluses of winter, which I do like but they’re smal compensation for the misery of the winter blues. S.A.D (seasonally affective disorder) is becoming much more recognised these days and in some Scandinavian countries, where the winter suicide rate soars, you can check yourself into special SAD wards in hospitals if it all gets too much, for some light treatment.

It’s the lack of light that does it. I’m not precisely immune to cold but it doesn’t really bother me. Remember the Arran jumper? It’s the lack of light and those long cold days of grey skies just make my depression so much worse. I’ve got a permanent battle with the old Black Dog of Depression anyway but the winter really bites deep. Once I get to the Winter Solstice, I start feeling a tiny bit of hope as the year slowly, very slowly begins to turn.

Now in late January I can see a few more minutes of daylight every day and the birds have begun to warm up their preliminary pre-Spring territory-defending songs. But it’s still dark and cold and miserable and I don’t feel much like going out when it’s blowing a gale, raining or hurling sleet at me.

My armoury against the winter blues? I have a special light box that sits next to my computer screen so as I work here, I get some of the light I need. I didn’t use it last winter and it was much worse for me. And another valuable weapon is Badger Balm’s Cheerful Mind balm. This is a balm from the very special Badger Mines www.badgerbalm.com , almost all of which I have tried and loved, but this one works very well as an anti-depressant. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a magic pill to take it all away and medicate you into a smiling zombie. It’s a simple balm made from extra virgin olive oil, pure beeswax and essential oils of: sweet orange, lemon, rosemary, spearmint, neroli, ylang-ylang, and cinnamon plus CO2 extracts of Calendula and Rosehip. It smells glorious and used on the skin as a skin cream is lovely. But as a mood balm it comes into its own. I use a little on the backs of my hands before I start typing, a little under my nose and some on my lips and temples. I carry a smal pot of it in my handbag and when I feel my mood flag, out it comes.

Not strong enough to affect those around you (good news for those with close associates who object to perfume) it lifts the mood gently but firmly. Applied regularly through the day, it’s a little lift when you need it.

Now for those who are unsure and who think aromatherapy is for the girls, bear in mind that essential oils work in a number of ways. The smell alone is one, affecting us in deep and sometimes unpredictable ways, but also the naturally occuring chemicals in essential oils have powerful effects whether we smell them or not. Some essential oils are known as anti bacterial agents more powerful than their synthentic counterparts. Some like tea tree are anti-viral. And some are known as anti-depressants. All the oils in the cheerful mind balm are recognised as anti-depressants. The most powerful of them in my opinion is neroli. Neroli is the essential oil taken from the orange flower, and is sweet but not oppressively so. I believe it to be one of the most uplifting fragrances going.

But the blend of oils used in this balm is so cheering and lively that each of the oils is perfectly in balance with the others and none dominates the overall fragrance. It’s not a girly fragrance, it’s basically a citrus and mint aroma.

If you’ve been struggling with the winter blues, try it.  It’s not expensive and it might be the  boost you may need.