When I was a kid, I used to love summer. There were the summer holidays, and a lot more heat and light and colour and sun. But over the years autumn has taken over as one of my favourite seasons of the year. I love the colour of the leaves standing out against the grey of the sky, I love the food, I love Bonfire Night – but more importantly I love getting my autumn clothes out of the cupboard because they’re so comfy and warm!
However, let’s face it, while we should be able to find beauty and joy in creation all year round, it can be harder to find it at this time of year, when nights are long, days are cold and dark, and the rain seems never ending.
Many of us may feel sadder, more stressed and more lethargic over the autumn and winter months, which could be down to Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD). Up to 6% of UK adults experience SAD, sometimes known as ‘winter depression’. Symptoms can include persistent low mood, being less active than normal, feeling lethargic or sleepy during the day, sleeping longer or finding it hard to get up, lack of concentration and increased appetite. Combined with other factors like the pressures of the impending festive season, it’s easy to see how people can struggle immensely at this time of year.
The good news is there are ways to tackle these feelings and add a little cheer back into the colder seasons.
Here comes the sun
It might seem like a simple solution, but the human body needs sunlight. Vitamin D is essential to our wellbeing. This weekend, make the most of the little sunshine there is. If you can get out and about, go for a walk. If you’re indoors, open the curtains, tidy up and make your home bright and fresh. Just sitting by the window for half an hour could help restore some Vitamin D and lift your mood. You could also consider investing in a SAD lamp. For varying prices, these lamps simulate sunlight and can help improve mood. Find out more here.
Socialising is good for us. That doesn’t necessarily mean going to a big party or being surrounded by lots of people – we’re all different and interact in varying ways, but the important thing is that we don’t cut ourselves off completely. This can be easy to do when the weather isn’t great and we’re already feeling low. So keep in touch! This may also open up opportunities to talk about how you’re feeling, which is another essential for our mental health and wellbeing.
Looking after yourself
Self care is always important, but even more so at this time of year. One of the symptoms of SAD is craving carbohydrates and overeating, which means it’s even easier than usual to comfort eat. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself now and again (you actually should), but a healthy, balanced diet is key to boosting our mood and energy levels. It’s also important to keep warm when the cold hits. There’s information on how to do this and where to get help with heating costs here.
No matter the weather or the time of year, if you’re struggling to the point that it’s affecting your day-to-day life, then speak to your GP. From me, I hope you find a little bit of happiness at this time of year. No matter what, I hope you know you are loved.