We are into the second month of autumn now and the clocks go back one hour on 25 October when British Summer Time ends. As humans, we have more natural energy when exposed to higher levels of daylight and so as the days get shorter it is natural if you are feeling more sluggish and lethargic. The lower levels of sunlight during the winter months can cause some people to produce less feel good serotonin and more melatonin that encourages sleep and can cause lethargy. Here are a few tips to help you get through the next few months:
- The change in seasons often signals a change in diet – salads may be ditched for warmer, heartier meals. At this time of year, it’s easy to get low on the sunshine nutrient vitamin D. Lack of B vitamins, folate, iron and selenium in your diet can also affect your mood but eating the right foods can help. Try to eat beans and pulses throughout the week, paired with whole grains such as basmati rice, oats, wholemeal bread and pasta. To keep on top of vitamin D, don’t forget to take your daily vitamin D supplement over winter. A weekly portion of oily fish will boost your omega 3s naturally, which is another mood-enhancing food.
- If you do find yourself feeling low, it may be a good idea to start a reflective diary. This can help you to recognise the impermanence of your feelings and highlight moments of joy. Using a reflection diary can help you to recognise all the positives you’ve had in your day. Those positive emotions can counterbalance stress or feelings of depression. It helps to retrain the internal system so that we can almost park certain feelings and make a conscious effort to focus on something else.
- If we believe things are bad then they will be. Being optimistic puts you where you need to be to attract success and happiness. Better to be happy than gloomy. Better to be positive than negative. Be really clear about what you want not what you don’t want because as soon as you start thinking about what you don’t want you start activating more of it.
- Give yourself some TLC – we often put ourselves too far down our priority list but taking time for yourself and putting yourself first can really boost your mood. Taking some time for yourself to do something you enjoy can work wonders.
- Give yourself a hug. When we touch, cuddle, hug or hold hands our bodies release “feel good” hormones. These hormones include oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. Once the hormones are released into our bodies we experience feelings of happiness, relaxation, improve mood, and lower levels of depression. So wrap your arms around yourself with your hands onto the backs of your shoulders, squeeze yourself to get the feeling of being hugged and smile. It’s hard to be depressed and smile at the same time.
- Exercise is great for boosting both our mood and energy so it’s all the more important to keep it up at this time of year. It’s natural for our energy to slump when the days get shorter but exercise is a great mood booster and the perfect antidote for the winter blues as it warms our bodies and puts us in a better state of mind – not to mention the health benefits! Have a good old dance, even if it is in the living room with the radio turned up. It is impossible to feel sad when you are dancing as those feel good endorphins kick in.
- Rather than constantly fighting the natural energy slump entirely, taking a bit of a break over the winter months and embracing this time of year might help you to feel more positive. Winter can be a real opportunity to take stock and have your own mini-hibernation. Then when spring arrives, you feel that natural lift in energy, flowers are budding and it tends to be a more optimistic time of year. You can make the most of that renewed sense of energy.