And we’re finally entering that bright, deep, rain-smelling, and cinnamon-tasting season!
Are you ready for autumn? Ready to watch how fast leaves will change their colors? Keep track of the last truly warm days? Start preparations for Halloween – costumes, punch, or Netflix account?
Don’t know what about you but I am excited! Maybe because that summer was too hot for my taste, or maybe because the smell of rain and fallen leaves is my favorite. Whatever the reason is, I can’t wait to enjoy that wonderful season to the fullest.
But wait, is there something that can ruin my expectations?
Yeah, when it comes to autumn there’s a lot of dichotomies. It’s warm (at first) and cold (at the end). It’s full of holidays! – and dull rainy days. It’s time to cuddle up with someone – or stare outside of the window, musing on the deepest thoughts.
Autumn has many dark and bright sides.
And the latter, that dark side, is what I want to talk about.
Why We Feel Down
Ever felt like sadness turns deeper as soon as summer is over? Whether you have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or just feel a bit moody during fall months, there is a clear reason for that.
I already talked about circadian rhythm in relation to your day-to-day sleep schedule – but now is the time to look at the other purposes.
To recap, in case you are not familiar with the definition: circadian rhythm is your body’s clock. It’s a set of processes that regulate your activity based on the amount of light around you. When the morning is blooming outside, it nudges you to wake up, and when it’s getting darker – it helps your body to relax.
It’s a crucial part of our sleep schedule – but not only.
As you know, days are getting shorter, nights are growing longer in autumn. Northern Hemisphere is getting ready for winter.
Do you see the connection?
The amount of sunlight we receive every day affects our bodies directly.
Keep that in mind next time you’ll decide to shrug your low mood off as “autumn feels”. It’s not only your mind’s tricks – it’s your body’s reminder that you didn’t get enough sunlight to be energized today.
But what now?
Struggle till the end of the winter and hope for more sunny days to come? Allow yourself to be grumpy, demotivated, unable to concentrate, or – worse – plunge into depression for months ahead?
No, of course not! Just like with every other time you catch yourself slipping into darker corners of your mind, you need to take action.
Start helping your brain get used to the change beforehand – and the symptoms will be much easier to handle.
Yes, here we go again.
Exercise, exercise, exercise.
There were times when I was so, so tired of seeing this advice everywhere, even though I knew it’s helpful, but… eh. Was never a fan of activities.
But it is important. And it does benefit your health, both mental and physical, so autumn is the perfect time to give it a go.
It doesn’t have to be something heavy: try yoga, breathing exercises, even dancing is a great way to beat fatigue! And as the air gets clearer and crispier, long walks outside or biking may become a special autumn alternative.
Enjoy colorful decorations in your neighborhood while helping your body stay healthy. Two for one, what do you think?
We can do nothing about the change of seasons – but it’s 2020! Of course, you can find something to fake nature.
Try looking for bright and soft lamps imitating sunlight – even that will be enough to reassure your organism.
Another option is to adjust your sleep pattern to the new season.
Waking up sooner to get more sunlight – weaker than in summer, but you get what you get – will do the trick as well. Just make sure to get your proper amount of sleep and not make drastic changes to your schedule.
Start with shifting your bedtime 15 minutes earlier (and wake up time accordingly) and gradually reach the schedule you want.
Want a bit of help? Grab my planner here, fill it out and keep it somewhere close as a reminder of the new schedule!
I know, I know, summer with its supply of fruits and berries is over, it must be the time for hot chocolate and pumpkin muffins finally?
And of course, it is! Go on, indulge in your favorite autumn flavors. Only keep in mind that lots of sugar and carbs are bad for your mental health, so you know, stick to a reasonable amount – or the sugar low will hit you hard.
But as soon as you’re done with cinnamon apples and hazelnut syrups, let’s figure out a proper eating habit.
Mediterranean diet helps with depression and fatigue, so make sure to include as many fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains as you can. Don’t be shy to go full out on berries too. If you are not a vegan, stick to seafood, eggs, dairy products as well.
All in all, let me list the nutrients you need, and you can choose which foods suit you better.
- Lean proteins (turkey or chicken breast, tofu, Greek yogurt)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna or herring, walnuts, flaxseed)
- Vitamin D (fatty fish again, egg yolks, dairy products, soy milk, cheese, mushrooms)
- Probiotic (yogurt, pickled vegetables, kefir, kimchi)
- Dark chocolate
Feel free to add something on your own! Just remember to keep track of what you eat, stay away from too much sugar and carbs, and take care of your body. It needs vitamins and a good mood that come with them during these months.
If you still don’t have a journal to keep track of your mood, it’s a great time to start one. Writing down your thoughts and feelings will help you process and understand them better.
Of course, it’s a good practice any given season, but for these particular autumn-changing moods it will have an additional pro. You’ll be able to see how your energy level and mood as a whole change throughout the months.
Seeing it with your own eyes will help you understand the autumn blues better.
Remember to note what things make you feel better as well, whether it was a sunny day or a caffeine-free morning. You can analyze them every once in a while to help yourself more intentionally afterward.
Don’t Let Them Get You
Yes, grey days aren’t that optimistic. Cold weather can make you grumpy and annoyed sometimes. Dark mornings make it harder to start the day.
Grey days can be lighted up with a bunch of pretty candles. Warm blankets are even warmer after the cold streets. Dark mornings still open doors to new days – and they’ll bring even more light into your life.
Depression can hit you on rainy summer days just as much as it’s here for sunny autumn – but it’s not a reason to give up.
Take care of yourself, your mind, and your body. Keep up with your self-care routine. Eat healthily. Do what makes you feel better. Enjoy every day as much as possible.
There are good and bad days in every season, and maybe autumn is a bit more generous on the latter, but don’t dismiss the good ones! Never dismiss the good ones.
Look around you. Find things you like about that season.
Watch bright leaves and small puddles with a bit more of childish awe.
Come up with a new hobby.
Go outside (as much as possible).
Meet up with friends for a warm cup of tea – even if a virtual one.
Snuggle under blankets.
Dance in the rain.
Do what feels good.
Find your own autumn happiness.