All of a sudden it’s fall, and with the cooler weather come apple cider, tricks and treats, and all things pumpkin. Fall is also the beginning of shorter days and longer periods of darkness.
Some people experience the darkness of fall and winter as soothing and cozy, and they enjoy all that fall and winter have to bring (yes, these people exist). However, a lot of people experience negative mood shifts during this time of year. We tend to go to work in the dark and leave for work in the dark, and constantly being in darkness can be a mood killer.
As we move through fall and experience longer periods of darkness, emotions such as sadness, loneliness, and depression can blossom.
Because I know this time of year can be difficult for so many people, I wanted to share a few strategies to help you move through the months of darkness with more ease.
1. When it’s dark after work you may not feel like you have the energy to go out and do things. But if you are feeling the fall and winter blues, it’s more important than ever to see your people!
Make at least one dinner or after-work plan with a friend or group of friends each week. Maybe you can find a friend who wants to take that gym class you’ve been eyeing, or go out for a quick dinner with a work friend, or have people over for a movie night. If friends live far away or seeing them is difficult, then schedule a phone or Skype date.
If you have family obligations that bring you home right after work, try taking some time to do a puzzle or a fun activity you’ve been missing to help break away from a negative mood. Don’t isolate yourself, even if you feel the urge to hibernate. Sprinkling in time to do things you love and be with people you love can be an instant mood booster.
2. Create good lighting. Having light at home can help improve dark moods. Some people have actual light boxes that they turn on during the fall and winter months, which research has shown can help improve your mood during this time of year.
For those who do not have a light box, improving your own lighting at home can work too. Some people choose to have white Christmas lights on throughout the fall and winter because they find that type of lighting soothing or energizing. They might string them up in a certain room or along the windows. You can also turn on more lamps and other lights that you find help evoke a brighter mood. You can even try setting your lights on a timer so that the house is lit up and ready to welcome you when you get home.
3. Exercise can play a huge part in helping to improve our mood. But when it’s cold and dark at both ends of the day, the last thing most of us want to do is head to the gym or run outside.
If the gym is not your thing, try a quick workout at home. You can use videos on YouTube, OnDemand, or through an app. Yoga, 10-minute stretching, or strength training videos are easy ways to stay active from home, and they give you an extra motivator when it’s pitch black out. It’s common knowledge that exercise helps improve how we feel, so if you are feeling the winter blues, make sure to move your body!
I hope some or all of these strategies are helpful for you. Just remember: If you make time to see loved ones, engage in activities, get some fun lighting going, and move your body, your mood will thank you.
Originally published at www.progresswellness.com