The fall season brings lots of change to our lives. Colder weather, shorter days, clocks falling back with Daylight Savings time ending. I know some of you will be excited about more light earlier in the day and some will lament the evening encroaching earlier and earlier.
So, how does this change of the seasons affect us and what can you do about it? Rather than worry about what you should do about it, let’s look at some things you should not do or can avoid.
Tip # 1:
Avoid overdoing it. Not only do the days become darker earlier, this is also the time of year when there will be lots of holiday celebrations on the calendar. You now have a great excuse to cut down on the pressure to “be on” and say yes to every invite as lockdowns give us permission to not go see everyone, including some relatives that want to pick a fight or talk about politics. This allows you to be selective and pick and choose which events you want to attend, and maybe even do nothing. You’ll never have a better time to just take it easy and do little to nothing. You’re welcome!
Tip # 2:
Now that I just told you to stay home and relax, do not stay in. It’s not a contradiction. When Daylight Savings Time comes around in the fall it means we will spend less time in natural sunlight. The weather turns cold, particularly in northern regions, and this can make us want to stay in a warm house. This can increase the risk of depression, and can also alter circadian rhythms. It’s not unusual to feel more tired and less hopeful during the winter months, even if you’re not experiencing depression. So, avoid the compulsion to sit in, get out for a walk in the sunlight as often as possible. One of the best things you can do is get some natural Vitamin D in your system. Adequate vitamin D intake is key for many basic bodily processes, and Vitamin D insufficiency has been linked to depression. In addition, reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression. Serotonin is a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood. One of the best ways to deal with lower mood and or depression is to create movement, take action. Take a walk or hike, you’ll definitely feel better. Avoid becoming lethargic and lazy.
Tip # 3:
Because we have less daylight, we tend to alter our food intake because our hunger level increases. This is a natural phenomenon. When we have shorter daylight hours our mood and behavior changes because that’s the way our ancestors behaved. It’s in our DNA. Our Hypothalamus will change behavior to prepare for the cold. This is especially true in the animal world. Some animals increase the amount of food they eat to build up fat reserves. This is done to allow them to survive with a decreased food supply. This was true for our ancestors as well, and our brains still operate with those instincts, all below our conscious awareness. So, weight gain during the holidays is due to hunger signals from your brain, not just the availability of too much turkey. Drop the drumstick! Use your logical, reasonable mind to help you avoid overeating. And there it is!