I’ve decided to take part in NaBloPoMo this November, the idea is to blog each day throughout November. I thought it could be a good excuse to get back into a blogging routine and share some different mental health related content over the course of the month. If there are any topics you’d like me to chat about, just get in touch via the comments or my ‘talk to me’ page.
At the weekend the clocks went back… apart from completely confusing my body clock, cat and any hope I had of working out what time of day it is… the change also brought with it darker nights. Whilst it’s a great excuse to get snuggly, watch lots of tv (ne series of ‘How to get away with murder’ woop!) and master the art of gourmet hot chocolate making… the darkness can pose difficult mental health challenges. Dark nights can make feelings of loneliness, isolation and generally feeling sad a lot stronger as well as increasing anxiety and other mental health struggles such as SAD. Autumnal evenings can be as tricky as they are cosy!
As the clocks have only just gone back, at least we have a little time to get into the swing of dark evenings… I’ve pulled together some top tips for coping with dark nights:
- Get into a good routine– routine can be a key factor which tackling any mental health difficulty. Having a plan of what you’re going to do in the evenings, especially those that feel longer due to the lack of daylight, can help them feel more manageable. A routine can also give you a sense of purpose which can help if you’re feeling lacking in motivation or drive.
- Plan in social time– whilst socialising can feel hard when you’re not feeling all that up to it, being around people can help to boost low mood and act as a great distraction on long autumnal nights! Autumn is the time of bonfires, fireworks and nights in with a good film! Making plans in advance can give you something to look forward to as well!
- Make the most of the sun– it’s important to boost those vitamin D levels whilst you can and get out in the sunshine for as much time as possible. Heading out for a lunchtime walk can help boost your levels and keep SAD at bay!
- Make your surroundings cosy– artificial light won’t cure SAD but it can help brighten your surroundings which can improve your mood. Nice scented candles or fairy lights can help to make the gloomy evenings feel nicer.
- Eat, drink and be merry– having a healthy balanced diet and keeping hydrated can help boost your mood and improve general and mental health.
- Brighten up your walls– redecorating for the different seasons might not be wholly practical, but using brightly coloured accessories can help stimulate your mind and improve your mood. Think about your surroundings and think about ways you might make them feel happier; such as nice photographs, having a declutter or restyling your accessories.
- Sleep well– getting into good sleep routines can be another helpful way to sort out your circadian rhythm and manage autumnal darkness.
- Get active– regular exercise can help release endorphins which can boost your mood. Anything that gets your heart pumping can work!
- Celebrate the season or start something new– think of ways you can celebrate Autumn or try something new, that can keep your mind occupied and give you something to get good at over the darker months! Maybe teach yourself to knit or crochet… or learn an instrument.
- Avoid alcohol and stimulants (like caffeine)– alcohol and stimulants can exacerbate anxiety and low mood, so limiting them can help improve things!
- Boost your vitamin levels– multi vitamin supplements that include vitain D and B12 can help boost depleted stores over the darker months, you can get cereals fortified with these minerals and vitamins too.
- Work on your self care daily– self care is something that needs practice. You can get really good at it if you keep trying to fit it in to your normal routines. /having lists and ideas of different things you can try can be a helpful reminder to do something just for you, especially if it doesn’t feel like it comes naturally.
- Dance it out– for me, a sure way to pick up my mood is putting on a happy playlist and dancing it out around my room à la Grey’s Anatomy. Maybe dancing it out isn’t for you, but find whatever it is that helps! It might be regular soaks in the bath with smellies or a good dog walk with a friend. It’s ok to experiment until you find what works.
- Lean on your support network– friends and family are there for you, but often won’t always know they need to be there for you unless you let them know you’re going through a hard patch. Speak to them, let them know what’s going on and ask for their help.
- Get some professional help-it’s ok to not be ok! But if you identify yourself as not being ok, then there’s no shame in asking for more help or support. Sometimes this can come from professionals whether it’s through therapeutic support or medication. If you broke a leg, you’d accept a cast… so if you need some support with your mental health then treatment is ok too!
Come back tomorrow for more NaBloPoMo fun!