I don’t know if it’s a hangover from our school days or simply the end of summer blues, but September always feels like a dreary month. September and January are two months when I know I can get a bit down.
However as I get older and my mindfulness practice becomes more established, I have learnt that there are ways to improve both times.
They are months of transition and the mind is always hesitant about transition, even if it is part of the yearly cycle that we should be used to by the time we leave young adulthood. However, studies show that a fifth of us suffer with the winter blues and that at least 8% of the UK have SAD. I’m definitely somewhere on the winter blues spectrum and sometimes simply anticipating how down I could feel in the winter makes me feel anxious from the summer solstice onwards!
But there are things that we can do to prevent this autumn and winter gloominess.
Here are my top tips for overcoming the September sorrows.
I like to buy my winter coat, boots and any home accessories such as extra blankets at the end of the summer. In fact I already have my winter coat and I’ve decided which winter weight duvet and boots I am going to buy. This helps me feel prepared for the colder months and reassures me that I will adjust.
Now you don’t have to spend money to do this. You could just go through your winter clothes and freshen then up for the autumn, reminding yourself that you are prepared.
Pick some targets
We all need to grow and learn to feel accomplished. Whether we want to learn a language, take up a new hobby or simply have ten minutes of peace and quiet in every day.
I like to keep track of goals in my bullet journal, such as writing, practicing yoga or meditating every day. I simply write the thing that I want to achieve each day, number the days of the month and each night before I go to sleep I check that I have done the thing I wanted to and if I have, I circle the day.
Start with one thing this month and next month add on another or add on five minutes.
Seasonal gratitude list
Last year I used a page in my bullet journal to write about all the things I love about the winter. I left a mark to this page throughout the winter and returned to it regularly, whenever I was feeling fed up about the cold.
On the list was everything from cinnamon scented candles to wearing warm jumpers and enjoying days at the beach with no one else around. Just like a daily gratitude journal, completing this list at the beginning or end of each season helps us to focus on the positive aspects of the changing seasons.
Cosy nights in
Is there anything lovelier than lighting some scented candles, putting on relaxing music, getting under a cosy blanket and reading for an hour or two. I love the outdoor activities of the summer, but there is something reassuring about hunkering down during the darker nights. Making a ritual of a cosy night in once or twice a week will help you to enjoy the longer nights and will hopefully reduce the claustrophobia that I know I always feel once the seasons change.
I love the saying that ‘there is no bad weather, only bad clothes’ and I suppose that’s why I buy my winter coat before the winter has even arrived!
Getting outside and exercising is proven to boost mood enhancing chemicals in the body and is really important for long term physical and mental health. Go for a walk on a morning or in the middle of the day during the winter or invest in some light reflecting patches so that you can walk even once the sun has set. Feeling the wind on our face and walking until you are naturally warm will overcome the chill and you’ll feel even more cosy once you return home.
Food is also really important for wellbeing and I love making soups and stews in the autumn and winter, particularly to take for my lunch during the week. I also think a day spent baking cakes and biscuits creates a really cosy feeling and helps me enjoy being inside all the more.