Unfortunately for a lot of people, the end of summer and the arrival of fall brings a lot of overwhelming feelings of change. The days become shorter, the sun comes around less, and many people go back to work or school. Dealing with these changes in a healthy manner, especially in a place like British Columbia, is very important for one’s mental health. As someone who thrives in summer, it can be extremely easy for me to fall into bad habits and have negative thoughts. Although it’s much easier said than done, finding positivity in my everyday life has helped me see through to the bright side of things. It’s truly the little things I can do for myself that make a great difference.
Waking up in the morning and looking outside to see rain and clouds can make someone want to spend the entire day in bed. When I am feeling down because of the weather, the first thing I do is wake up and write down a few things that I am grateful for. This is a very simple task that you can do in a notebook or even on your phone. I personally noticed that this kickstarts my brain in the morning and it helps me start the day with positivity. I even refer to my list later when I need a quick reminder of the good things in my life. This ultimately helps me manifest good thoughts so I can carry that energy with me for the rest of the day. Another positivity trick I use is to make sure I don’t touch my phone as soon as I wake up. By doing this, I’m able to focus on myself instead of immediately looking at social media and seeing what other people are doing. Personally, when I spend too much time looking at social feeds, I tend to compare my life to what I’m seeing, and this takes me down a rabbit hole of negativity.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is directly related to the changing of seasons. Symptoms usually start in the fall and continue throughout the winter as the months get colder and bleaker. This occurrence can majorly affect the way people enjoy many things, including their favourite activities. Some people may even lose interest in these things all together. Because a lot of my hobbies revolve around the warm weather, it’s hard for me to want to do any of them when I don’t even want to be outside. This fall, I have focused on changing my perspective on life. I have challenged myself to find new ways to keep doing the things I love. For my portrait photography that mainly focuses around very warm toned and sunny shoots, I’ve had to switch my creative mindset and think of new ways I can utilize the fall and winter weather to my advantage. For someone who loves spending hours at the beach tanning and swimming, I’ve decided to take more walks in the trees to appreciate what else nature has to offer. Instead of putting your routine on pause as the seasons change, find new ways to appreciate the things around you.
The biggest lifestyle change I’ve made as fall commences is becoming more active. This doesn’t mean that I work out at the gym every day or do yoga every morning. Starting simple is all you need. The dark and stormy weather can make you want to hibernate and stay indoors. Normal tasks that are seemingly easy to complete may appear as a huge effort. To battle against this, you must move your body in one way or another. It can be hard at first, but even just going on a 20-minute walk is all you really need. Breathing fresh air, moving your feet, and clearing your head are a few of the many benefits. This also physically distracts the brain from negativity that you may be experiencing as your body is focusing on regulating your heart rate and producing special chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals interact with the receptors in your brain to reduce feelings of pain, trigger positive feelings in your body, and overall make you feel good. Even just getting outside and going for a drive is a great distraction from spending too much time at home. Dwelling on things is much more common during the fall because there are so many less activities to do. Finding ways to keep your body moving is extremely healthy and very beneficial to your overall well-being.
For a lot of people, the changing of seasons is not a pleasant transition. Without even noticing it, fall can bring about feelings of change, stress, and negativity. It is important that during these times we continue to do good things for our bodies and minds. Although it may feel difficult, find positivity in your everyday life, no matter how small. The little things really do make the greatest difference.
If you are struggling with personal mental health issues, please check out the SFU Health and Counselling page.