How Spooky Season can affect your Mental Health
If you’re like me and you absolutely live for that time of year where it gets dark at 4 o’clock and you can legitimately live in bed socks, no questions asked, you might think the only way Spooky Season can affect your Mental Health is positively.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
The effects of seasonal changes on our mental health can be profound and can often be quite negative. Think about all of the changes that happen around this time of year: the length of daylight; the intensity of the sunlight; our diet; our routine; and even how and where we spend our time. As these changes take place, it is common for people to feel tired, unmotivated, and depleted. Anxiety can increase, too, because these changes can create a vague and unsettled feeling.
I am a self-proclaimed spooky season fanatic. I hate summer and that feeling of being too hot, having to eat ‘summer foods’ (salad ew) and having sticky thighs (gals, you know what I mean). In contrast, I love everything winter related, bed socks, stew and dumplings, blankets, pumpkin spice lattes (yes I really am that basic), and so much more. That being said, this time of year, despite how much I love it, can often leave me feeling tired and unmotivated.
This got me thinking, if I can feel like that after how much I love this time of year, surely everyone else’s Mental Health can be affected too? A few hours of research later and it turns out I’m right.
Many people experience a dip in mood during the darker months, no matter how much they may love the smell of cinnamon. As the days become shorter and pasta becomes preferable to summer salad, it is scientifically proven that human beings like to hibernate. This want to hibernate leaves us feeling unmotivated, sad and sleepy.
Unfortunately, these winter blues can often accelerate in some people and develop into a condition known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). SAD occurs more frequently when people struggle with an existing mental illness and can be identified through symptoms such as the following:
- A shift in energy; lower energy and/or motivation
- A change in eating habits; eating more or less
- A change in sleeping patterns; sleeping more or less
- A feeling of detachment; confusion and less interest in activities that were once pleasurable
- Sadness; a feeling of hopelessness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Withdrawal from family and friends
As the weather changes and we all change out shorts and crop tops for knee highs and bed socks, make sure you are keeping an eye on those near and dear to you. With the craziness that is COVID-19, symptoms of SAD are only going to worsen this year, making the winter months an incredibly isolating time for those suffering. Whether its winter blues or SAD, ensure you are practicing self-care and promoting the wellbeing of those around you!
With that in mind, here are my top tips to stop those pesky blues and make Spooky Season your witch (get it?):
- Work out what you love about the season and bring this into your daily life.
Be this pumpkin spiced lattes, Disney Halloween throwbacks or the dark nights justifying that 9pm bedtime, figure out what you enjoy and prioritise that each day.
- Stock up on a variety of your favourite foods and drinks.
Hot girl summer is over, now is the time to eat that bowl of stew and dumplings or curl up with a mug of hot chocolate and some milk tray! Obviously be mindful that what you eat implements your mood, I am not recommending starting every day with a mug of hot chocolate and some digestives (unlike me today), but ensure your cupboards are packed full with your favourite winter snacks for when you need that little pick me up.
- Bed socks, PJ’s and jumpers galore.
It’s cold and it’s only going to get colder! Make sure you have a go to pair of PJ’s and some comfy jumpers and socks for those nights you just want to snuggle up and watch a film. My personal recommendation, Halloween Town on Disney+. Truly an iconic masterpiece.
- Finally, don’t beat yourself up.
As the weather changes and it gets dark earlier your motivation might well drop. Don’t beat yourself up for struggling to get out of bed for that 6am run, don’t feel guilty if you are lacking the focus or haven’t managed to tick everything off your to-do-list today. Take the small wins, recognise what a boss you are for just making it through the day and start fresh tomorrow.
I hope you like my top tips for avoiding the Spooky Season blues!
Remember to keep an eye out for anyone you know who you think might be experiencing SAD and as always, prioritise your self-care, you deserve it!