That last minute burst of summer really was a surprise and a crazy adjustment to the anticipated rhythms of the year.
Just as children went back to school and students prepared for college or uni – instead of the usual predictable pattern of settling into autumn we were thrown into a tropical bubble that was totally unexpected.
The autumn mood was sidelined – almost disguised by the heat, yet the days are quietly shortening and there’s the knowledge that at any moment we could be thrust into a clash between T-shirts and shorts meeting sweaters and socks. I’m not sure there is cupboard space for both, and the winner is biding its time as the furry boots get ready to kick the sandals back into storage.
Autumn creeps up and for many people it is a time of quiet dread as seasonal patterns can really govern our mood.
For some it can be a genuinely affecting issue. Chemical patterns in the brain can really affect our state of mind.
Natural Serotonin is the hormone influencing mood and sleep. Less exposure to sun and light can be linked to low spirits.
Melatonin is the hormone that causes tiredness if more than normal is produced. With people who are particularly sensitive to shorter days it is proven that autumn depression is a tangible thing.
There are those for whom this time of year will be an easy adjustment and a chance to remember summer fun. These are the types who can embrace the pleasures associated with the contrasts in lifestyle that winter can bring.
But for people who can relate to habitual
Seasonal Affective Disorder aptly named SAD, it becomes a pattern linked to the onset of winter.
And for those who come to dread it, the fear of what’s to come as autumn approaches, is in itself enough to trigger anxiety that seems impossible to overcome.
The decline in mood becomes linked to the end of summer and the worry of stresses to come.
Forebodings around the contemplation of the winter months can start to creep up and become invasive.
This then becomes anticipatory anxiety which is already a block to any hope for joy and fun in the winter.
There’s a lot we can do to lighten our mood, but sadly once we are enveloped in seasonal blues, the energy to take action will diminish – that’s another way that those hormone changes can take control.
Before the skies darken and the clocks go back is the time to make a plan of action
It’s all normal stuff, but not always easy to see the benefits once the gloom sets in, so here are the proven mood boosters.
This is a possible contender to counteract the shortening days. There are a range of SAD lamps on the market. These target the consumer with replacement for sunshine, giving a bright simulated light usually considered most effective when used in the early morning
For some they can be a real mood booster. Others can find them ineffective, but as with all remedies its up to the individual to research and test.
In extreme cases, a visit to a GP is definitely a step in the right direction.
And always consider the proven benefits of your own individual therapy.
Being heard and having time to reflect in a creative space where difficult feelings are considered and even normalised is an important way to be understood and a positive way to be kind to yourself.
The lower levels that occur as a result of sunlight deprivation can be linked to a hindrance of our body’s natural production of seratonin.
Dopamine is also thought to be lower in those with a vitamin D deficiency. Check with a pharmacist to ensure the correct dose, but this is an easy way to access self-help
Exposure to natural light
Even on the days when the sun does not appear, natural light outshines artificial light and this is also most beneficial in the morning.
Walking is another proven remedy and added to your sun bath makes it a double winner
Even a short walk is beneficial, and if possible in natural surroundings. A park or Common is a top blues chaser.
For those who swim regularly this one seems obvious and has a really strong affect on lightening a dark mood.
For those who are less convinced, it’s worth considering that the power of water need not involved immersion. Studies show that the proximity to water has a calming effect on the system. Being close to the sea is the top choice, but any water will be helpful and can provide a soothing mental boost. Find a pond, a stream or river to visit. Walking, listening and watching brings its own natural calm.
Just Lean in to Autumn
All change brings loss, but it’s easy to see the end of summer as ‘Sehensucht’ a German word roughly translated as longing or yearning for experiences unfinished, or a search for ideal alternative experiences
Train those thoughts to rearrange fear and take control.
Cut yourself some slack and embrace soothing habits, no such thing as guilty pleasure when it comes to self-care.
More time indoors means cosying up with friends, family and significant others over simple kitchen suppers of comfort food.
No guilt needed to watch something silly on tv or reading for entertainment rather than edification.
Buy new cushion covers in rich autumnal shades.
Consider a class in crafting, amateur dramatics, singing, or just listen to an unfamiliar podcast.
Take up something new that seemed hard to fit into your hectic summertime schedule.
Dig out that forgotten scented candle and revisit some nostalgic music that evokes happy memories. Spring is just around the corner.