Ahh ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ is upon us and is arguably one of my favourite times of the year. When John Keats wrote this much-loved poem, over 200 years ago, the seasons were most likely a little more easily defined, but it is still relevant as it speaks of change, which is a defining marker of the seasons.
The crackle of wood on a fire, soups, baked potatoes, long walks in wellies, bubble baths, candles, pots of tea and toast, the changing leaves. All beautiful moments that make me cherish this time. But how can the seasons affect our wellbeing?
The change in the weather can have a real impact on mood. Rain and storms and plunging temperatures may seem a good reason to snuggle indoors and may be enjoyable for some. But for others, shorter days and longer nights can have a real effect.
Less sunshine and light can lead to dips in Vitamin D levels. If you combine this with more time indoors it’s easy to see why this can begin to lower mood. According to the NHS, Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, affects around 2 million people in the UK.
Symptoms can include, lower mood, sleep problems, lethargy, and in serious cases depression. One of the top tips to help people cope, is to get outside and try and stay active whatever the weather. There is an old saying that suggests that there is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothes! According to NHS findings, just one hour outside in the daytime can be as effective as light treatment for helping the winter blues.
Staying warm is also another suggestion, did you know for example that if your home environment dips below 18 degrees you are likely to be cold and that is enough to trigger low mood or depression. Whilst it’s good to add on another jumper when it is chilly, it’s worth bearing this in mind. This is a note for my partner, who tends to like a cooler home and this time of the year, can bring on central heating rows!
Another top tip from the NHS is to make sure that you keep connected. It’s easier in wintertime, to say we are busy and turn down invitations. Often the thought of venturing outside on a cold dark evening is enough to make us say no to things that come our way. However, if we can push ourselves occasionally to see people we love and do the things that make us happy, then this can help us tremendously.
Connecting with nature is another way that can help to ground us and aid our wellbeing. Wintertime is a fabulous time to stargaze. Stepping out into the night, with a blanket and big coat and warm nourishing drink to look upwards at the night sky can really help us to feel connected to the world.
The changing trees can be a beautiful sight to behold, did you know that there is actually a term for watching autumn leaves change – Leaf Peeping! It’s a great opportunity to visit a wood or forest nearby. Whilst you are admiring the stunning foliage colours, you are also getting outside in the fresh air and getting in the steps, which are all wonderful natural aids to wellbeing.
As we approach Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year, twinkly lights appear through the night, making our environments a little bit magical. If we can learn to embrace this time of year and throw ourselves into seasonality and celebrations, then we may just begin to support our wellbeing. We may even enjoy ourselves!