It’s been a beautiful Autumn day today and I have been walking in Battersea Park surrounded by the colourful trees and leaves.
I’m now back home writing this post and I’m reminded that as the clocks went back last night, it’s going to be dark in about an hour and that can only mean that we are heading towards Winter and its darker days.
If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or if you just notice you are feeling a little less buoyant through the darker days, then now is a great time to get a strategy in place for the winter.
Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, the reduced sunlight can affect our bodies’ normal pattern. We need light to stimulate our brains and less light can lead to low mood.
We have all had a challenging year, and with that comes an increased burden on our mental health. So I’m sharing this now in order to give you a head start on beating the winter blues.
Here are my top 3 tips for keeping your spirits up through the darker days and earlier nights.
Use a little tech
Now nobody panic, I’m not talking about a Wallace and Gromit-style device that pulls you out of bed and slaps you awake…
But seriously, getting out of bed at a consistent time is great for your body clock and can help stave off the blues. A sunrise simulation alarm clock is also really beneficial and a worthwhile investment, they link to a lamp which gently increases the amount of light for 30 minutes before your alarm goes off.
Or you can keep things pretty simple by just getting up at the same time each day and letting your internal body clock enjoy that calm consistency.
If you need a little more to get you moving in the morning, then how about a shower radio to perk you up, or a coffee machine on a timer prepped the night before, so you wake up to that lovely fresh smell.
The smallest things can lift your spirits and give you a good start to the day.
Boost your nutrition
In the winter we naturally get less vitamin D.
Spending more time indoors (especially in our current situation) often means less exercise and also less light and you need to get sunlight on your face and arms as much as possible.
Try and schedule some daylight breaks into your day for both the exercise and the light. Not only are both these things good for your mental and physical health but right now being in the outdoors is the only way to meet up with a few friends so it’s even more of an incentive.
You could also try a Vitamin D supplement, which you take between October and March as apparently we are all pretty much Vitamin D deficient during those months. Please check with your GP first to check if this is right for you.
Maybe boost your vitamin C intake too, just to help you through cold and flu season – again check first to see if it’s right for you.
Focus on the Festivities
And my 3rd tip is about focusing on the good, making the most of this time of year and making some plans to look forward to.
We’ve got Halloween, Christmas and New Year all ahead of us – I know that we may not be able to celebrate exactly how we used to, but you can still make some fun plans at home, there’s no reason why you can’t dress up and enjoy yourself.
Sometimes it really is the little things that count the most. So how about making a list of things you like about this season and then treating yourself a little?
A friend of mine is addicted (her words) to Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spiced lattes. So to save herself all those extra calories she invested in some pumpkin spiced scented candles that she found on eBay and they are keeping her happy!
If your local lockdown rules allow, schedule in some long autumn/winter walks at the weekends with a few friends or family. Dig out your thermals and gloves and treat yourself to a hot chocolate on the way (or a Pumpkin Spiced latte).
Earlier on in the year I wrote a post called ‘We all need something to look forward to’. A sense of anticipation is so important. It energises us and gets us through the tough and mediocre times and it will also get you through those darker winter days.