Are you one of those people who really wants to love the colder seasons, but just can’t seem to fully embrace it with all your most positive fall and winter habits?
Colourful leaves, comfy sweaters and the scent of apple/cinnamon/pumpkin spice may be some of the most widely recognized highlights of the season, but darker morning and evenings, colder weather and a stressful or humdrum daily routine are just a few of the unpleasant downsides we find ourselves having to accept as fall starts to really set in.
There’s a good and bad side to every season, and everyone experiences it a little differently.
Here are a few suggestions for how to deal with the not-so-nice side of fall.
1. Question negative thoughts and assumptions about the fall and winter seasons.
The colder seasons are a time to look inward.
We develop beliefs about how things might turn out based on thinking about past experiences and future worries, and when it comes to getting back into the swing of things after the summer, our minds can make the upcoming colder season seem depressing and dreadful before it even really starts.
If last fall or winter was an unpleasant one for you, maybe you’re assuming it will be just as bad (or worse) this year.
Or if you’re really dreading something that’s coming up — maybe an exam, a work-related event or something important your kids have to do — then you’re likely to exaggerate your thoughts about how bad it’s really going to be before it happens.
Notice these thoughts and ask yourself, is it absolutely true right now, in this moment?
In most cases, the answer is often no.
You may want to check out Byron Katie’s The Work (which is totally free, by the way) to learn how to ask more questions like this and change your beliefs about the present or the future.
2. Understand how light (or lackthereof) affects your mood.
Never underestimate the power of light on your internal body clock.
You’ll be able to better question your beliefs and assumptions regarding how you feel about the cold or what you think is going to happen as the days grow darker when your mood is in the right state, and lack of light (or even too much artificial light) can definitely hinder that.
Exposure to the right type of light in the morning hours has been shown to reduce anxiety in some people, and light therapy can be a good alternative to real sunlight on mornings when it’s too dark or cold to get outside for any significant period of time.
A darker or brighter than normal environment in the workplace has also been shown to negatively impact mood while exposure to blue light-emitting devices too close to bedtime can mess with the internal body clock and delay sleep onset.
3. Engage in physical activities that distract you from the discomfort of being cold.
Staying indoors 24/7 in the fall and throughout the winter until spring is definitely an effective way to keep warm, but unless you live in a town or city that’s completely connected via underground tunnels, chances are you’ll have to venture out into the cold every so often—if not daily.
You can embrace the cold by engaging in activities like brisk walking, hiking, biking and jogging, which take your awareness away from the fact that you’re freezing and don’t send you running to the nearest building to warm up.
The less you move, the colder you’ll be, and the more likely you’ll be focused on that uncomfortable sensation.
Exercise is an endorphin-boosting/mood-enhancing activity on its own, so the very fact that you’ll be moving your body even at low-intensity or moderate-intensity levels has some real benefits to offer.
4. Enjoy seasonal foods that boost immunity.
Cold and flu season kicks off in the fall, and there’s nothing like getting sick to make this time of year feel even more miserable.
It’s time to stock up on seasonal foods like apples, squash, dandelion root, your favourite herbal teas and root vegetables like sweet potatoes.
All of these have valuable nutrients that may give your immunity a boost to help protect you from nasty viral infections.
5. Take good care of your sleep habits.
It had to be said.
If you do a good job with allowing and limiting exposure to light at the right times of day combined with a regular bedtime and wake-up routine, then you’re well on the right track to better sleep habits.
If your sleep is all out of whack, find out how you can reset your sleep schedule naturally.
Fall and winter may not be everybody’s favorite seasons, but if you become more mindful of the mental and physical habits that are serving you, it may just become a more bearable (and even enjoyable) time of year.