If you read enough news articles and watch enough magazine-format TV shows, it’s hard not to come to a conclusion or two about your health. You’ve seen enough stories about a certain food or a specific activity which “causes cancer” (and too few stories highlighting that the issue is more complicated than a simple ‘if A, then B’ process). The truth of the matter is that health is complex, and multiple factors affect every aspect of it. Take the “Fall Blues”, or any seasonally-affected mental health issue. While Seasonal Affective Disorder is a specific diagnosis that you may not meet, it’s still common to feel a lower mood as the seasons change, the days get shorter, and the evenings colder. Here’s how to beat the Fall Blues…
You’re going to get less sunlight, so make the most of it
Depending on where you are located, fall can herald days that are several hours shorter than at the height of midsummer. Making the most of the sun that you do get is therefore of vital importance. Exposure to the sun encourages the release of serotonin in your brain, which fights depression and enables you to focus better. A brisk walk – ideally somewhere with colorful leaf fall – allows you to get a good dose of sunlight which will help battle the blues.
Eat and drink the right things
You certainly don’t have to give up your Pumpkin Spice fall drinks; frankly, a bit of caffeine is more than a little beneficial at this time of year. However, you should probably avoid having sugar in them, or find a non-refined sugar that you enjoy. Refined carbs and sugars, MSG, and trans fats should only be eaten sparingly. Instead, lean towards brassica such as broccoli and cabbage (try kimchi for a particular boost), and get as many anti inflammatory fruits into your diet as possible. Inflammation can increase the unpleasant “brain fog” feeling that makes everything feel ten times more difficult in fall – and is more likely on darker days.
Keep more regular sleeping hours
Some people have extremely regular bedtimes and getting-up times, and some don’t. Those of us who fall into the latter group may be experiencing what experts like to call “Revenge Bedtime Procrastination”. Particularly common in people with ADHD, but by no means limited to them, this is a phenomenon where people who feel they haven’t had time to themselves during the day stay up a little extra at night to make up for it. And while we’ve all been there, it’s something to keep a look out for in fall, where a lack of sleep can combine with environmental factors to make you feel more than a little sub-par. Try getting to bed earlier and sleeping at least six hours, and more if you need it.
There is so much to love about Autumn: the colors, the cosiness and the festivities. These are all easier to enjoy if you are able to shake off those Fall Blues and live in the moment, so keep the above points in mind.