It's October! The nights are drawing in, it's getting cooler and darker on a morning, and pumpkin spice-flavoured items are literally everywhere. Love it or hate it, you might need a little extra help to manage your mental health in autumn - here's a blog post to make sure you get it.
Personally, I love autumn. I love the cooler weather (I'm too pale to be a summer person!) and I like the snuggly warm clothes at this time of year - you can never have too many jumpers or pairs of boots. But for some people, the changing weather gives them a feeling of dread. The darker nights can be filled with a sense of foreboding, as though something terrifying is going to happen, and getting up on a morning can feel like wading through treacle. If that sounds familiar, here are some things to bear in mind.
Get checked for SAD
You might have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, but you might not know what it is or what the symptoms are. SAD is a type of depression that tends to be more difficult to manage in the autumn and winter months. Depression is already difficult enough to deal with, but pairing it with the darker, bleaker months is really tough. Symptoms of SAD include:
Stick to a routine
I know, I know, it's dark and windy and miserable and your duvet is telling you that just five more minutes won't make you late for work, but here's the thing: sticking to a routine even when it's really difficult will be better for you in the long run. That five minutes turns into twenty, and before you know it you've got no time for breakfast before you're running out the door. It's ALWAYS going to be dark when you leave work, you're NEVER going to feel like going to the gym, but you know you'll feel better once you've done it.
Planning out your week in advance and then sticking to a timetabled routine might sound like a lot of effort, but it reaps rewards in the end. It stops you from hibernating too much, and also means that you still maintain some semblance of hobbies and social life throughout the winter months. It might not always work, but being aware of how much you're going to want to stay indoors and being mindful of not indulging that tendency too much can stop you feeling even more lethargic and low as autumn and winter go on, particularly if you have SAD or any kind of depression.
Learn a new skill
That said, the nights getting cooler and darker is the perfect time to stay indoors and pick up a book (within moderation, of course). Autumn is a great time to learn a new skill - even better if it's something you can use during the coming months. Here are some starters for ten:
Let me know how you're planning to spend your Autumn in the comments!
Dr Sarah Blackshaw: Clinical Psychologist, blogger, tea drinker, interested in dinosaurs and shiny objects