You're probably (hopefully) aware that the clocks went back on 25th October and we gained an hour. I hope you enjoyed it, because your days might be about to get a whole lot harder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder, occurs during winter; the darker part of the year. It affects more people than you might think; up to 10% of the population in some parts of America.* Studies also show a correlation between vitamin D/sunshine and mental health. Basically, things get a lot harder for a lot of people in the dark.
I know I struggle come the end of Autumn every year; especially after the time change. I've been fatigued and moody the past two weeks; finding it difficult to wake up in the morning, and feeling exhausted all day.
I turned my alarm off in my sleep and slept in last week for an extra HALF AN HOUR and only had 15 minutes to get ready before I had to leave for work. It was probably the reality check I needed to finally do something productive about it.
As someone who struggles with my mental health come Winter, here are my tips for surviving the time change and the dark:
Be cosy - staying warm is one of the most important things you can do this season. There is nothing worse than shivering at your office desk or getting a cold. Wrap up, and carry your hat and gloves in your handbag just in case the change in temperature catches you out.
Tea - do not underestimate the power of this little drink. Not only comforting against the cold, but it can re-energize you and is the perfect warm treat come the end of the day.
Candles - I love lighting a candle at the end of the day. It makes me feel calmer, at home, and has become such an essential part of my evening routine that I'd be lost without it. Go for some seasonal Yankee candle scents too like Cinnamon Stick and Home Sweet Home to help boost your evening mood.
Don't overeat - I'm a sucker for eating lots of junk food when I'm in a low mood. But while the animals may be preparing for hibernation by stock piling food, our bodies aren't built for it. It may be comforting to eat more in the cold weather, but watch what you eat as often it can leave you feeling worse about yourself.
Early nights - if you're finding the mornings a real struggle, then try having more early nights. I don't mean watching Netflix in bed at 10pm; I mean no devices, maybe reading a book in bed from 10pm. It could make a big difference.
Don't stop exercising - it can be very appealing come Winter to give up on your exercise regimes, but it's important to try to keep up your good habits. As hard as it is to motivate yourself when it's so dark and chilly, you'll regret it more if you don't make the effort to go to your nearest fitness class for an hour.
Don't hibernate - who really wants to leave your warm home in the evening? No one, but staying inside every evening isn't healthy either. Don't forget to socialise and make time for family and friends. Maybe stay in and watch Netflix with company?
Get your vitamins - if like me you work 9-5 and aren't seeing any daylight, you may need to rely on vitamin tablets to get your daily essentials of Vitamin D. This year I'm taking some multi-vitamins to help me stay awake and healthy.
Buy a coffee, but don't survive on them - water and fruit are proven to be better at waking you up, but there is no harm in buying a treat now and again.
Make the most of the daylight - it's pretty impossible for me during weekdays, but on weekends go outside. Take a walk through a local park. Or use your lunch breaks wisely with a 5 minute stroll.
Get into good morning habits - do not snooze the alarm clock and do turn the lights on as soon as you wake up.
So pay particular attention to your energy levels and mood over the next few weeks; the darkness may be affecting you more than you think.