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Shorter Days, Better Mood: 7 Ways to Beat Seasonal Blues
While Fall’s colors are undeniably beautiful, the leaves’ transition ultimately signifies Summer’s passing and Winter’s approach. Days are distressingly longer and darker, but our behavioral health pros have some tips on how you can combat those impending seasonal blues.
The autumnal equinox was September 23, and as darkness begins to creep in earlier and earlier each day, it only makes sense that things can start to feel a bit dark as well. Many of us experience some form of seasonal blues, which, at its most severe, is also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Symptoms, including depression, loss of energy, and social withdrawal, typically start in the Fall and continue through Winter.
Life can seem really hard or out of control sometimes, and the lack of sunlight certainly doesn’t help. Even though these seasonal feelings of sadness and negativity can be difficult to shake, there are steps you can take now to prepare for SAD so it’s less of an uphill battle later on. Here are seven simple ways to beat the seasonal blues — before Winter hits.
1. Set a solid sleep schedule.
There’s a scientific reason why we’re so easily affected by changing seasons: because our circadian rhythm (internal body clock) responds to sunlight, the early sunsets and later sunrises actually shift our sleep patterns, causing our bodies to feel sluggish. Settle into a regular sleep pattern now, and it will be less of an adjustment once SAD is at its strongest.
2. Try to become a morning person.
Wait, wait, night owls, hear me out! The benefits of being an early bird are scientifically proven: morning people perform better at school and work, and are generally happier and more satisfied with life overall. Not only that, but going to bed earlier will limit the amount of darkness in your day. But if you’ve been a multi-snoozer for as long as you can remember and this seems like an insurmountable task, check out these six ways to trick yourself into becoming a morning person.
The colder temps may make you less inclined to get outside and moving (and more inclined to sit in bed buried under a pile of blankets), but making time to exercise is important — it enhances the endorphins in your body, which in turn improve your mood and alleviate stress and anxiety. So hit the gym, take a yoga class, or try an at-home workout — this one takes just 10 minutes.
4. Take on a hobby.
Being cooped up inside is only enjoyable for so long before a feeling of restlessness starts to set in. To distract yourself, develop a fun new hobby. Doing anything with your hands, whether that’s knitting, baking, or coloring, will give you a task to focus on for an extended period of time, as well as a feeling of accomplishment.
5. Clear out clutter.
While we’re humans and not bears, we do hibernate in our own way during the coldest months of the year. Declutter your den now so it’s as cozy as can be once Winter hits by following these five easy steps.
Summer is a great time for many things, but basking in the warmth of another human is not one of them. Fall is prime time for cuddling, not to mention it’s been scientifically proven to make you happier, so grab your SO, grab your kids, grab your cat, and snuggle up.
7. Create a Fall fun list.
The joys of Fall are endless, so make a list of everything you’d like to do and start checking items off one by one. The cold weather months will feel less like a gaping chasm when you have many fun adventures planned. Take that, SAD.