As the nights draw in. 6 ways to keep on top of your wellbeing this autumn and winter.
Updated: Sep 18, 2018
As seen in Counsellors Cafe Therapy Magazine.
As the nights draw in, the days get shorter and the leaves on the trees start to change colour it can be a difficult time of year for some. The long periods of darkness can reduce motivation and make travelling to and from work in the dark for 9-5 shifts rather disorientating. It can be more serious for those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Symptoms of SAD include increased appetite, weight, and hours slept, anxiety, low mood and decreased activity.
Have you ever felt like you wanted to hibernate through winter? Me too. Night time causes our bodies to produce melatonin which increases sleepiness and as the seasons shift from summer to winter the timing of this process moves out of sync with our sleeping pattern and body clock. Unfortunately we cannot slow down and hibernate through the winter months like our prickly hedgehog friends do as we still have some form of responsibilities such as work, families, etc. So it’s no surprise that a lot of people struggle with energy levels during these months.
So here are six ways that will help improve your mood and stay motivated:
Keep to your normal routine – try not to give into the temptation of cancelling your hobbies because it’s cold and dark outside. Keeping to your normal routine will help you feel better. You could even try a new activity or hobby.
Exercise - a workout can do wonders for your wellbeing by boosting your endorphins so whether it’s at the gym or outdoors, there are many benefits to working out. Get the best of both worlds by combining outdoor and indoor exercise, for example, walking outdoors to get some fresh air and weight training indoors and you will soon be reaping the benefits.
Relaxation – do something that helps you relax whether it’s reading a book, taking a bath or listening to music. You could even try some meditation. There are lots of guided meditation videos on YouTube that you can follow and they are free.
Food – try and eat proper meals which contain good sources of protein and fibre and will help you feel good as opposed to sugary treats that can make you feel sluggish (after the temporary energy boost) and can also lower your mood.
Invest in mood lifting technology – a SAD light, for example, can help uplift your mood and restore your energy with 10,000 LUX of light. Put it on as soon as you wake up in the morning to recreate daylight and reap the benefits. There are also alarm clocks available that can help you gradually fall asleep and wake up by recreating sunlight and even alarm clocks that double up as an aromatherapy diffuser so you can diffuse a relaxing essential oil at night time to help you sleep or an energy boosting essential oil in the morning to energise you.
Let the sunlight in – As soon as you wake up open all blinds and curtains and let as much natural light in to help your body wake up.
You owe it to yourself to make time for some self-care and try some or all of the tips to maintain your wellbeing and boost your mood. The tips should help you feel good and able to enjoy the positives and beauty of the autumn and winter months.
Sara Dewhurst - Wellness Psychologist
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