Fall has arrived, and it brings many beautiful changes. The cooler weather is typically a welcomed change, comfort food is readily available, and trees change their color to all sorts of gorgeous shades of red, orange, and brown. I personally love the pumpkin overload and watching the rain while sipping on a cup of coffee, but many others find this time to be the cause of sadness, anxiety, and even dread. For many, this drastic change in weather and the holiday season can mean unwelcomed feelings and a need to be extra gentle with ourselves.
Although our mood naturally fluctuates throughout the day without causing substantial disruptions in our lives, drastic changes in weather can significantly impact our overall wellbeing. The beginning of fall and winter may bring about lack of energy, oversleeping, loss of interest in activities that typically bring us joy, and even depression. The exact cause of these changes is unknown, but research shows that the reduction of sunlight in the fall and winter months may disrupt our body’s circadian rhythm (your body’s internal clock) and decrease our body’s serotonin and melatonin levels, causing adverse changes in our mood and sleep. Not only does our circadian rhythm impact sleep, but it also influences body temperature, mental alertness, and even pain sensitivity. Without the sun providing cues for our bodies, our sleep cycle may be interrupted similarly to that experienced with jet lag or shift work. I don’t know about you, but I rely on the sunlight peeking through my bedroom window in the morning to help me wake up.
Let’s enjoy all the beautiful things fall and winter have to offer. Since these changes can be predicted, there are ways we can prepare ourselves and cope. To combat the fall and winter blues naturally, try these strategies.
Do your best to get enough sunlight. Go for a walk when the sun is still out, eat your lunch outside, or sit close to the window if you are home.
Get enough sleep. Create a routine and avoid using your phone or watching television right before bed, as the light emitted from these devices may contribute to sleep problems. Place an alarm clock if you tend to oversleep and ensure that your nap does not turn into a sleep marathon.
Take a trip. Plan a trip to a sunny location in advance.
Incorporate healthy lifestyle habits into your life, including eating a balanced diet and finding an exercise routine that you enjoy to boost your mood and serotonin.
Anyone can benefit from implementing healthy lifestyle habits that can manage these natural mood and behavior fluctuations. Get out there and enjoy that pumpkin patch.