Many of us love the feeling of the changing seasons, especially when the fall arrives. Bring on the flannel, comfy sweaters, and pumpkin spice lattes! But as the season continues to move towards winter, our daylight gets shorter and weather gets more dreary, many of us can find ourselves feeling somewhat down (SAD Lamps, anyone?).
According to research from Harvard Health Publishing, “We are governed by circadian rhythms, our body’s natural clock that helps regulate important functions including sleep/wake cycles and mood. These rhythms can be thrown off by the winter season.1 The sky gets bright later in the morning, and dark earlier in the evening; yet, our hectic schedules require us to keep going as if nothing has changed. This shift, along with other factors – including genetics and body chemistry – may affect your mental health.”
So there is more to it than just feeling a little “off” on these dreary days of autumn. In the warmer months we often can get outside, go for a walk and get some vitamin D, yet for those of us who live in cooler temperatures this time of year, those self care options become more limited.
Below I have listed some self- care tips to put into practice as we enter this new season.
- Attempt to incorporate (or maintain) physical activity into your daily routine
We all know physical activity can improve your mood and energy levels. This becomes especially important to be intentional about during these cooler months, when we would much rather be cuddled up on the couch (there is still a place for that!). Even if it is just a daily mid day walk, this simple practice can improve your mood.
- Use your creative side
With the potential isolation we often feel during these cooler months, we are often left with plenty of excess energy that we don’t quite know what to do with. Instead of allowing ourselves to stress or feel anxious, turn that time and energy into creativity. Accessing our creative side has so many benefits:
- Creativity gives us a sense of purpose
- Gives us a feeling of accomplishment or pride
- Allows us to express ourselves
- Reduces stress and anxiety
Linked below is a great resource for inventive ways to access your creative power:
- Access your sense of smell
Stay with me here…. More and more research is being done to show the benefits on the mind and body with essential oils used as aroma therapy and topically. Personally, I am always diffusing peppermint and orange essential oils this time of year, they have an energizing sense to them for me. Which is important for me to access when I would much rather stay at home than get out of the house and be productive.
I have linked a website below with more information:
- Practice Grattitude
This one can be extra tough when we are feeling the cold weather blues, which means it can be all the more useful to put into practice this time of year. Practicing gratitude correlates with improved physical well being, better sleep, and even lower blood pressure. As you go through the daily routine, find moments to slow down (I like in the morning and evening) and take time to jot down a few simple ways you are grateful. I try to keep a journal, I know others who like using post-its to put in places where they will stay as visual reminders each day.
So there is more to “self- care” than bubble baths and manicures, though I am a fan of those too! During these changing seasons it is important to take time for ourselves and pay attention to how our changing surroundings impact our mind and body.
If you find ourself feeling like there is more to what your going through, and self- care isn’t quite cutting it, maybe its time to invite a therapist into your circle of care.