Has the change of seasons got you down? Don’t panic – you’re not alone. The lack of sunlight as the days become shorter and darker can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), leaving you feeling depressed and tired.
SAD affects about one out of every five people, some severely, and others mildly. It strikes mostly during the autumn season because the reduced amount of sunlight causes the levels of serotonin, the happiness hormone, in the brain to drop.
Autumn as a transitional season can also be problematic. While it’s an ideal moment for drowning out the noise after the long, loose, elastic days of summer and reining back in to fixed schedules, routines and responsibilities, with the days growing shorter, the leaves falling off the trees and the unpredictable weather changes, it’s common for people to get the seasonal blues.
During these ever-shortening days, pay close attention to your emotional and mental state.
Here are some tips that can help you to improve your mood and beat the autumn blues.
Find some new passion:
Look for a new hobby, or a new passion, that could make you feel that you’ve got something to live for and something to wait for. You should look for something that can trigger positive emotions and that gives you an extra motivation to take action, as well as something that could allow you to get some rest from work.
Soak up the sun:
Autumn is a great time to build up Vitamin D reserves, as the sun is no longer at its strongest. With the exception of any skin issues, 20 minutes twice a day in the sun should do the trick. Exposure to sunlight also lifts our mood and helps us to feel more calm and focused.
Your plate should be colourful and filled with fresh fruit and vegetables. And never skip breakfast, as adding some sort of fruit for breakfast will boost your energy levels early in the morning. Eating warm, well-cooked meals is excellent for your digestion and helps to pacify anxious energy. Incorporate warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, fennel, cardamom and cayenne. Get seasonal root and bright orange vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots, beets and radishes to help you feel more grounded.
Change your wardrobe:
Nothing can improve your mood like shopping. Not only buying new clothes, but also searching for them in various places can help. Besides this, autumn and winter are the seasons of the year that are a little bit more demanding wardrobe-wise than spring or summer. That’s why it’s good to equip yourself with clothes that will not only look good, but will also be functional.
Allow yourself quality time:
Even if you don’t have much time, it’s worth finding a way to pamper yourself. A hot bath, booking a massage session, reading your favourite book or drinking coffee with anything sweet can all improve your mood.
Sort out your sleep patterns:
Waking up exhausted and craving more sleep is common in autumn. Stick to a routine of going to bed and getting up at the same time. It will work better than drinking coffee to help you to stay alert.
Bring flowers inside your home:
Bring cheerfulness into your home with brightly coloured flowers from white, red, blue and yellow to pink, purple, orange and all shades in between.
Do some baking:
Comfort food is a great remedy for the autumn blues. Dive into the kitchen on a free afternoon and fill it with the delicious smells of a cake with fragrant spices such as cinnamon.
Slow down your tempo:
Breathe more deeply, and let your exhalations be longer than your inhalations whenever you’re feeling anxious, as this will help you to settle your nervous system. Consider incorporating more soothing forms of exercise into your current regimen: restorative yoga, light swimming, strolling or biking can all have very relaxing, meditative qualities.
Exercise helps boost your energy and feeling of well-being. So, try jogging, or visit the gym or even yoga class. Exercise, best done in the fresh air, can help to quicken the circulation and strengthen your immune system.
Meet your friends:
Make it a mission to go out at least once a week with your friends. This is a guaranteed way to make you feel better.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 22 October, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly