As summer draws to a close, observing the change of the seasons can be difficult for some.
Unlike the warm transition from winter to spring, seeing summer melt away into the cooler autumn can be challenging.
You might have found that the long days and hot sunshine of summer improve your mental health and help you feel inspired about pursuing outdoor activities. Now it is over, you could feel daunted by the approaching autumn and winter months, especially during the cost of living crisis.
Not only are rising prices bound to squeeze the earnings of many people around the country, but the dark, cold weather can prove emotionally challenging too.
According to the NHS, more than 2 million people in the UK, plus 12 million people across Northern Europe, experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) when the seasons turn. If you feel down or depressed in the autumn and winter, it could be constructive to discuss this with a mental health professional.
In addition to speaking with someone who can help, there are practical steps you can take to prevent the transition from summer to autumn from dragging you down.
Read on to find out three actionable tips that might help.
1. Get outside as much as you can – regardless of the weather
While stepping outdoors for fresh air and exercise is not as simple as throwing on a pair of shorts and trainers at this time of year, it can still make all the difference to your mental health.
Even if you need to don your sturdiest wellies, rain coat and fleece, your body will still feel the benefits of being outside – especially in nature.
Whether it is a quick lunchtime stroll around a city park, a weekend hike through your nearest forest or even a five-minute jog around the block, pushing yourself to explore the great outdoors is rarely a bad idea.
Although it might be tempting to shut the curtains, switch on the TV and hibernate until spring appears, staying in too much could exacerbate feelings of depression.
Instead, try braving the weather as often as you dare – you might be surprised at how wonderful you feel after a bracing, rainy walk!
2. Commit to indoor projects that keep your creative juices flowing
Committing to a creative project or goal when summer is over can keep you inspired through the harsh, cold months.
Consider pursuing a creative project this winter, such as:
- Learning to knit or sew
- Taking music lessons
- Reaching your fitness goals at the gym
- Attending a foreign language class
- Writing that book you have always dreamed of publishing.
Keeping your creative and intellectual cogs turning could keep low feelings at bay when the weather turns.
If you want to enjoy something creative but lack motivation, it could be an idea to team up with a group of friends and set goals together. You could work online or in person during evenings and weekends to create something special. Simply holding one another accountable can be beneficial when starting something new.
By focusing on an exciting project, you could feel that important sense of motivation when you wake up each morning – even in dark, cold weather.
3. Adjust your routine to help cope with darker mornings and evenings
One strategy you could think about employing during the turn of the seasons is to try adjusting your working and social routines, so you can make the most of the daylight.
If you work from home, you could find that rising early and getting a head start on your working day could leave you free time in the warmer, sunnier afternoons. This structure could allow you more opportunities to get outdoors and boost your mental health before the dark evenings draw in.
Alternatively, you could consider prioritising chores like housework, laundry and “life admin” during weekday evenings, so that your weekend days are entirely free to enjoy. That way, you might be able to make the most of your spare time, even in the gloomier seasons.
If you feel your routine needs an adjustment, it could be beneficial to discuss a change with both your family and your employer, such as more flexible working hours or prioritising time outdoors.
Working with your support system to protect your mental health when the seasons change might make all the difference this autumn.
Bowmore Financial Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.