Coping with seasonal changes
As we enter into autumn the days get shorter, the temperature gets colder and we are left with a bitter reminder of why we wish it was summer again. Waking up to darkness, trying to avoid getting splashed by the cars driving through puddles, and everyone coughing and sneezing are just some of the classic signs that the season has changed. But don't forget autumn also hits us with the most amazing colours of red, yellow and orange, crisp air, the opportunity to dig back into our cosiest winter wardrobe, warming up next to the fire and sipping on hot chocolate.
Between the good and the bad of changing seasons comes a change in our mood, motivation and productivity. Getting out of bed becomes a little bit harder, our mood takes a dip as we try and hold on to summer, as people’s immune take a turn we are more likely to catch a cold, we stop doing activities outside and end up becoming more of a couch potato. However, you can completely fight against the seasonal symptoms of depression and lack of motivation through being prepared and organising the next few months in advanced. Planning becomes your friend during the autumn and winter seasons as you are more likely to follow through with something if you have scheduled it in advance.
There are a few main topics that I cover below on how you can keep your mood elevated, your productivity at an all-time high and how to motivate your self through those cold days.
Keep up your exercise
As the colder and shorter days come into play we are more than likely to ditch going to the gym or a class in favour of heading straight home to put on our pj’s. Our mind is telling us that it can’t be asked taking us to the gym and so we end up neglecting our weekly exercise. It becomes easier to be lazier or to sit in to watch Netflix as the season changes. Not to mention that during the autumn and winter days our food choices change as we opt for heartier and richer dishes. Meaning keeping on top of our exercise becomes even more important for our health and mental wellbeing. Keep a strict schedule around when you choose to exercise. Choose three days a week that you will dedicate to physical activity and note it down in your diary. Pick a friend and take them to the gym with you, or organise a class that you can both take at the same time - make them your accountability partner.
Increase morning motivation
If you have a morning routine in place already you might have noticed it slipping with the mornings becoming darker. It’s not as easy to get up when there is no sun and you can’t think of anything worse than getting out of a warm bed. If you are like me and will snooze your way into the later hours of the morning and then regret not getting up earlier then try instilling a few tactics to help you get out of that bed.
Put your alarm clock in a place that means you have to get out of bed to switch it off.
Before you fall asleep set your intention for the morning. If you tell yourself that you will get up, do your journaling, your yoga or read then you are more likely to follow through. Plan your morning in detail and go through your actions before you drift off to sleep.
It's naturally harder to get up when it’s dark because our circadian system (or body clock) responds to the rise and fall of the sun. If your body isn't detecting any natural light then your body clock is not going to respond to waking up. Invest in a wake-up light which gradually emits soft lighting to help your mind and body adjust to becoming awake.
Getting a good nights sleep is key to easing the early morning rise. If you feel well-rested then it makes it easier to get up. Make sure to unwind an hour before going to bed and reduce your technology interactions. Get into the habit of reading and meditating before setting off to sleep.
Elevate your mood
As we say goodbye to the summer and all the fond memories it can feel slightly depressing going into the colder seasons. Our mood is more likely to dip as we collect all the negative thoughts surrounding the colder seasons. Looking after our mental health during this time becomes a higher priority. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself and to give yourself extra love during this time. Schedule social activities in your diary and make sure you surround yourself with friends and family during this time. Don’t be afraid of having to lean on someone for support. We all need it sometimes. Have at least one weekly social event in your calendar or a new activity you can try out.
During the darker months, we naturally don’t get as much vitamin D as we would in the summer due to the lack of sun. The effects of vitamin D deficiency does affect our mood. Vitamin D activates certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin - the feel good chemicals in our bodies. With a decrease of vitamin D comes a decrease in those feel good chemicals. Making it essential to keep up your vitamin D levels during the less sunny months. Adding vitamin D supplements is a good way of regulating your mood through ensuring you are not suffering from the lack of feel good chemicals.
How you maintain your productivity through the next few months can become a bit of a burden. You know you have a lot to do but maybe can’t seem to keep that productivity at its best. As I mentioned before planning becomes your friend during this time. Start blocking time out in your calendar to concentrate on the things you need to do. Whether it be a side hustle, dedicating some time on you, focusing on your meditation practice or tidying your space. Having allocated time to blitz through what you need to do will boost your productivity and allow you to get stuff done even when you might not be feeling up to it. The more you do this the easier it will become. Like any new habit, it can be challenging at first but stick with it and you will find that it becomes second nature after a while.
Arts and crafts project
As the season turns wetter being inside sometimes is a must, and we can utilise that time to help keep our happiness steady and make sure we are making time for ourselves. An arts and crafts project is the perfect solution to the autumn and winter months. Get your creative hat on and find a project that excites you. Whether it’s kitting, jewellery making, creating your own products or candle making. Choose a project and dedicate some time each week to it. This gives you a way of expressing your creativity whilst giving you the satisfaction of making something completely from scratch. Plus in the lead up to Christmas, there is nothing better than a hand made gift!
Look forward to the next few months and make the most of living life in the best way possible.