picture of girl drawn in black ink with checkered scarf holding a hot drink wearing black boots by Roo Betty

When the clocks change and what that means for your mental health

The nights are drawing in and there’s definitely an autumnal whiff to the air.  However you feel about Autumn (or “the Fall” if you’re from across the pond) you can’t really escape the change of the seasons.  Well certainly not this year, what with that Covid spanner in the works.  There’s no jet setting to sunnier climes for a while (not for us anyway) and so we’re left in our Northern Hemisphere bubble and dreading the looming clock change so  we ask -

“How can we make this clock change positive for our Mental Health”

Year in year out, the clock skips forward in Spring and falls back in Autumn and each year we kinda dread the day that it happens.  For us anyway, we’ve never been great with change, even a single hour has  our whole body going into freefall and we feel totally out of whack.  We mooch around for days after, like a little space cadet asking “what time is it?” and “what time is it really?”.   What with darker mornings and earlier evenings, the lack of sunlight starts to affect us.  Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D is a real thing, with symptoms such as 

  • a persistent low mood
  • a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • feeling irritable
  • feeling stressed or anxious
  • a reduced sex drive
  • becoming less sociable

It can start to feel like the autumn has it in for you.  So before our own Mental Health starts to take a turn for the worse we felt we should be a little more proactive.  This year we’re determined to find some positive ways to feel better about the darker evenings and shorter days.  I know, who is this strange person?  With her sudden  whimsy for a  magical autumn.  If you know us well, bear with, normal service will probably resume soonish. But for now, skip with us whilst we share  some ways that you too, can feel better about your mental health this Autumn.

You can’t change it so - Go with it.

You know it’s gonna happen so why are you fighting it?   I know, we do the same , strop around for days, cursing the government or whoever it is who’s in charge of this blasted time change, after all it’s soooo last century .  We have electric lights you know!  This was a major turning point in our mental health journey.  Instead of constantly fighting with ourselves we started to allow this to well, just be.  It means for an easier transition with everything .  So this year have the extra hour in bed and have a duvet day - (we also know this fabled extra hour doesn’t exist once you have kids so if you are a parent here’s a top tip, don’t turn one clock back  and 5pm will rock around sooner and you can crack open a bottle! - you can thank me later. )  But in all seriousness here are some tried and tested ways to rock the clock change!

Write a list of what brings you JOY!

We are in fact the Eeyore of the group and rarely find JOY in anything.  However, when we started to find the chink of light in even the darkest of days, we started to feel a little more upbeat. (n.b. - We can only sustain this joyous mood for a short period of time, but even a short period of joy is better than no period of joy! Don’t you agree?)  So grab a pen and paper and write a list of the autumnal things that you enjoy!   Yes! we love jumping in crispy leaves too.

If you’re not feeling it? That’s OK too.

So you really can’t find that inner joy?  Yeah we know we’ve been at that stage too.  After all we can't all be ecstatic little pumpkins!  So if you’re having a down day take advantage of the darker evenings, wrap up with a blanket or your favourite cosy jumper and darken the room cinema like grab some popcorn and a hot chocolate and Netflix your heart out!  We just love that about darker evenings it’s the best excuse to watch back to back anything!

Wrap up warm and get out there!

This is a sure fire way to turn that frown upside down.  Again put on that favourite sweater, we’ve just bought ourselves a cosy new giant scarf as well (it’s made us very happy indeed!) Pull on the boots (another reason why autumn is great!) and get out for a brisk walk!  We just love going out for walks at this time of year, the changing leaf colour the crispy leaf piles to jump in (OK , OK we do also have a child, who is a bit of a poo magnet!  So maybe make your own leaf pile !!)  The crisp air and cold nose feeling is sure to make you feel a little more alive.  Plus, when you get back in the house it feels all toasty warm and you can sit down for a well deserved cup of tea and a biscuit! (we’ve just discovered ginger biscuits coated in chocolate OMG, major taste sensation!)

See, we told you that the darker nights drawing in weren’t something to mope about.  Don’t forget to call on your friends and family too.  Check to see if they got the memo on how to navigate the time change and see if they’re doing OK .  In these…. and I’ll use the much worn out phrase “unprecedented times” it’s a good idea to make sure  those who are on their own aren’t feeling too S.A.D after all Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing.  Those summer evenings  sitting on the beach may be long gone but we shouldn’t feel like we’re locking ourselves up and throwing away the key just because the day is a little shorter.   We should still feel like we can go out and enjoy everything that this glorious earth has to offer and frolicking with a friend or two this Autumn. What could be better?
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