Looking after your mental health as we approach autumn

Some of us look forward to the autumn, with the promise of cosy jumpers,  hot drinks and spending more time indoors. For some people the upcoming weeks are less appealing, with fewer daylight hours and colder temperatures. As the seasons change, you may notice a shift in your mental health. We’ve put together some helpful guidance on how to manage the transition to autumn and avoid it negatively impacting mental health.

 

Many of us have enjoyed the longer days and warmer temperatures over the last couple of months. As autumn and winter near, we may experience a sense of loss for the brighter days bygone and apprehension for the colder, darker months ahead. People living with seasonal affective disorder experience depression in patterns according to the seasons, most commonly in the winter months. It’s worth considering that living with seasonal affective disorder – a mental health condition – is different to simply favouring certain times of the year.

Ways to manage your mental health this autumn

  • Pick out the best bits. Although there may be parts about the upcoming months that you don’t enjoy, there may also be things you’re excited for, such as bonfire night or Halloween or simply being able to wear cosy socks and wooly jumpers. Identifying what you are looking forward to and focusing on those activities can help us to feel more positive about the change in season.
  • Back to basics. The summer months can be a hectic time with travelling, increased responsibilities (like childcare), and a packed calendar of social events. The autumn time can be a perfect opportunity to wind down and focus on the basics that embody good health and wellbeing including sleep, food and exercise. You may have more time on your hands which you can use whichever way benefits you. Whether it’s cooking a new nutritious recipe or getting back into a book series you like, or simply taking more time to be in the present and relax.
  • Exercise. We may feel less inclined to want to get out and be active when it’s colder outside, but exercise in any form can help boost our mood and give us more energy. It’s easy to feel lethargic when we spend excess time inside, so whether it’s a brisk lunchtime walk or joining a local exercise class there are ways to keep us moving and energised, whatever the weather.
  • Set up a routine. If you find you’re spending more time indoors or at home, it’s possible that we can fall out of routine and feel unproductive. Try to stick to a routine to continue the rituals or activities you may have enjoyed in the summer, such as morning walks or seeing a friend on a set day. This helps us to maintain a sense of familiarity, keeping us active and improving focus too.
  • Stay connected to others. We may feel that we’re seeing less of our friends and family when the days are shorter. That’s why keeping in touch with loved ones is important, to increase social connectedness and combat loneliness. You don’t have to just stay indoors to socialise either – there are a whole host of outdoors events to attend during autumn time, such as local craft fairs and fireworks displays. Plus, with the landscape becoming colourful with beautiful shades of orange and yellow, there are plenty of opportunities for walking and hiking.

If you feel you’re struggling or are worried about someone you care about, find out more about to how to reach out for mental health support and what services are available to you.

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