Lift your mood this autumn
With the change of seasons and the end of the longer, lighter evenings, it’s no wonder that some people feel gloomy when summer ends. But autumn has plenty to offer and feel good about, as behavioural expert Judi James explores.
For many people, the start of autumn corresponds with the end of summer fun the last Bank Holiday before Boxing Day has passed, the holiday season has come to a close and children head back to school. The lighter evenings of the summer months disappear quickly and the weather typically brings with it a new chill in the air.
Although the summer months may be coming to an end – and your next holiday probably seems ages away – letting it get you down won’t make the time pass any quicker and it will just result in you feeling even gloomier.
Rather than feeling dismal and gloomy about autumn, behavioural expert Judi James suggests that it’s far better to focus on the positive aspects that the change of season brings with it.
“Remember how much you loved autumn as a child,” she asks; “crunching leaves underfoot, bonfires, wellingtons, new school scarves and toasty warm food?”
That might sound corny but corny is good when it comes to lifting your mood.
“Instead of looking out from inside your bubble of busy-ness and allowing the change of season to lower your mood by focusing on all the negative changes, like shorter days and chillier mornings, you could actively raise your happiness levels by anticipating the positives, just as you did as a child.”
Improve your frame of mind
Thinking positively and focusing on the good things is a great start to improving your frame of mind and giving you things to look forward to.
Here are some tips from Judi:
- Stop using gloomy terminology: It’s natural to miss the end of summer but moaning and over-dramatising will create a false response as you programme your mood into a state similar to mourning.
- Talk it up: Words create feelings which affect your behaviour. Even if it sounds fake to begin with, get into the habit of referring to the new season in positive terms.
- Anticipate good things: rather than focusing on what you’re missing and pouring over holiday snaps or pining for the beach, try booking a short autumn break in a cosy country hotel or guesthouse. Visit the seaside in autumn for long walks along deserted beaches.
- Remind yourself of the joys of the season: Write a list of all the things you like about autumn, no matter how childlike or soppy they sound.
Boost your sense of wellbeing
In addition to improving your frame of mind, it helps to focus on what you can do to boost your sense of wellbeing.
Exercise is always good for improving your health and wellbeing, reducing stress and lifting your mood. The act of exercising releases endorphins, which naturally produce a ‘feel good’ factor. So rather than decreasing the amount of exercise you do in chilly weather, get outside and enjoy the elements – outdoor sports, running or walking can all be invigorating.
Judi also suggests that it’s a nice idea to create seasonal treats.
“Kids see each season as a different set of treats to look forward to and you can too,” she adds.
Enjoy the wonderful autumn colours of the trees, go out and collect conkers, pick out your favourite warmer clothes or look forward to celebrating Bonfire Night or Halloween.
Other ideas to boost your sense of wellbeing include:
- Having an ‘autumn clean’, rather than a ‘spring clean’ – sort out your wardrobe, tidy your home and empty your cupboards of junk to help yourself feel good
- Visiting friends and getting involved with face-to-face socialising
- Reading some good books or watching some entertaining or uplifting films
- Trying knitting or other creative crafts – they can be a good way to de-stress and allow your brain to relax after a hard day’s work.
Do you feel SAD?
Sometimes, there can be a medical reason for a slump in mood during the colder months. According to the SAD Association, about seven per cent of people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of winter depression, between September and April. A further 17 per cent have mild symptoms or ‘winter blues’.
SAD is caused by a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus, which is triggered by the decrease in daylight hours and lack of sunlight in winter. It affects people living in the northern and southern hemispheres but it is very rare in locations where the daylight hours are consistently long and bright.
As well as a change in mood and depression, other symptoms may include sleeping more, anxiety, concentration problems and increased appetite. If you’re worried about your health, see a GP for advice.
If you have any questions about coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder, then send a question to our panel of experts.
SAD Association - www.sada.org.uk
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