3 Strategies to Help You Stay Mentally Well This Fall
This time last year I was feeling a bit down and I couldn’t quite put a finger on why. It seemed to me that everything in my life was going well so why was I not happy? I even started to feel a bit guilty about it.
IT HAS A NAME
It took another person to explain to me that this was quite common in the winter months, so much so that it had a name – Seasonal affective disorder (SAD for short), also called “winter depression”. And I think it’s worth discussing because if I was struggling with it a year ago, I can only imagine how many people might do so in the current situation.
WHY THIS HAPPENS
SAD has largely to do with a lack of sunlight in the winter months and the way it affects your body in producing different hormones that regulate sleep and mood.
3 DAILY STRATEGIES
I was lucky to have a coach who recommended three main strategies to help with this which I’ve been using ever since.
1. Get Your Heart Pumping
20+ minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day will do the trick. So what does moderate mean? You want your heart rate to be elevated but not to the point where you’re struggling. For healthy adults, it usually means somewhere between 100 and 120 beats per minute.
I personally go for a morning walk but you can try a light run, swim, dance, cycle… Make sure it’s something you enjoy, that way you’re more likely to stick with it.
2. Let There Be Light
Get as much sunlight as you can. This can be tricky with the days getting shorter especially if you live somewhere like the UK. Luckily there are ways to supplement this.
Solution No. 1 – I personally use a SAD lamp that simulates sunlight (I actually have it on right now as I’m typing this). There are many models on the market. If you want to know which one I use, get in touch and I can send you the details.
Solution No. 2 – I take a vitamin D supplement once a day to balance out the lack of sunlight in the winter.
3. Long Live Idleness!
Try to insert some meditative moments into your day. You might immediately imagine a yogi sitting in lotus pose with their index finger and thumb touching, eyes closed. But it doesn’t need to look that way.
You can do a walking meditation, sit with your coffee watching the world go by in the morning, or make meditation part of your yoga practice… There are also meditation apps and tools that you can use to ease your way in. Get in touch and I can point you in the right direction.
If you suspect you might be struggling with a more serious mental health condition, please consider seeking out professional help. There’s no shame in going to see a counselor. In fact, I know many musicians who’ve done just that.