The changing of seasons can evoke both positive and negative emotions. On the one hand, the transition from summer to autumn means the arrival of pumpkin spiced lattes and cosy knitwear.
But for many people, this shift towards darker evenings and colder weather is likely to evoke more negative emotions. Coupled with the rising cost of living, the arrival of autumn this year could lead to a mental health crisis.
It’s very common for the arrival of autumn and winter to trigger a decline in mental health. The symptoms might not be immediately obvious. You might struggle to get up in the morning and might find it difficult to muster the same motivation for work, exercise or socialising. Or you might feel that previously manageable situations feel more difficult to navigate.
The important thing to remember is that you aren’t alone and help is available. If you notice a change in your mood this autumn, a trip to your GP will help you to discover what support is available. Then, you can focus on the small self-help steps you can take to support your mental health.
Understanding SAD (seasonal affective disorder)
Seasonal affective disorder is sometimes known as seasonal depression or winter depression. According to the NHS, it affects around 2 million people in the UK. Symptoms can be mild to severe and include things like depression, sleep problems, lethargy, overeating, irritability, low moods and feeling less social.
Once you understand why your mood has changed without warning, it becomes much easier to take positive steps to tackle this all-too-common condition.
Steps to overcoming seasonal change
If you suspect you might experience a dip in mood when the seasons change, there are some positive steps you can take to counteract the negative effects. Some of these won’t resonate with you, so you don’t have to treat this like a to-do list. Instead, treat these as individual coping mechanisms to call on in times of need.
Find joy in the changing of the seasons
It’s easy to focus on the negatives, so try to practice gratitude and look for the positives in the changing seasons. Maybe you look forward to occasions like Bonfire Night and Christmas. Or perhaps you enjoy festive foods and German Christmas Markets. It could even be something simple like enjoying cosy movie nights with your other half or getting wrapped up to play in the snow. When you practise gratitude every day, you’ll find it’s easier to maintain a brighter outlook.
Head outdoors when you can
Exercise, fresh air and sunlight are just what you need when seasonal depression takes hold. Exercising outdoors will help to release endorphins, which can help to boost your mood. Research has shown that exercise is highly effective in helping individuals to cope with depression. Head out in the middle of the day and you’ll also enjoy the added benefit of a dose of vitamin D.
Seasonal depression can zap your mood and motivation which can then wipe out your desire to socialise. But we know that socialising can have a positive impact on mental health. Being social makes you happier and promotes a sense of security and well-being.
So if you’re feeling the effects of the colder weather and shorter days, try connecting with friends and family to boost your mood.
Stick to a routine
Seasonal affective disorder can impact your sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning. It can be tempting to abandon your usual schedule in favour of sleeping when you can, but this can make the situation worse.
Keeping a regular sleep schedule will ensure that you are making the most of the daylight hours. So, when you wake up in the morning, pull open those curtains and embrace the day.
Make your health a priority
When everything feels like a struggle, it can be easy to lose perspective and feel out of control. When this happens, take things back to your basic needs. Your basic priorities should be food, water, shelter and rest.
Drinking enough water, eating a healthy diet, making your home cosy and prioritising good sleep patterns are all great starting points. CBD can help you to establish a good sleep routine. One of the most common benefits of taking CBD is for sleep support, so it can be the ideal supplement to take before bed to help you to drift off to sleep naturally.CBD is also effective for supporting your whole body, and balancing mood. It may help you to feel more mindful of your mental and physical health. You can take CBD in many forms including CBD oils, CBD capsules and CBD gummies. Many people take a combination of CBD products to get their optimal daily dose.