As the days get darker, so can your mindscapes. You may find yourself exhausted as the air around you turns colder with every breath. You might feel your mood drop as fast as the setting sun, leaving behind a trail of dark hours in its wake.
If this applies to you, do not worry! Don’t let the changing seasons change your mood. Instead, consider living out the gloomy days this fall with a smile. Read on for common feelings you may face this season—and self-care tips that can help you navigate them.
I can’t seem to get anything done—can I get tips on this?
Something that many of us struggle with during these dark days is a lack of motivation, which can stem from many things. Maybe you miss the fun-filled energy of summer. Or maybe you are feeling the effects of work, school, and personal obstacles ramping up.
Whatever the reason may be, a feeling of not wanting to do anything for a long time is very common. To counteract this, a great idea is to explore activities that can boost your motivation. Here’s a couple of ideas:
1. Discover or revisit a hobby
Have you ever thought about learning to bake, but never got to try it? Now is your chance to make a warm, cozy batch of cinnamon rolls and indulge in the product of your productivity!
Or maybe you have been debating whether to get back into reading for fun, which you had stopped doing some time ago. Now is a great time to rekindle that interest!
Take this opportunity to engage in activities you enjoy, which can help you find a sense of fulfilment amidst a time of demotivation: You just might feel great about having done them despite the dark, dreary days you’re in, gaining the strength and confidence to tackle your tasks.
2. Declutter and (re)organize your surroundings
Imagine the clouds covering the sky as far as you can see—or the sun hiding away for the better part of the day. These are both environmental factors that may weigh on your mind.
Clutter is another environmental factor that may become a source of demotivation. Yet sometimes we do not even notice the clutter plaguing our surroundings—or its negative effects on us. It’s as if all that was shielded by the sunny summer days and only coming into full view and force now—when the sunlight dwindles and the darker days roll in.
So, why not do some fall cleaning? (You may have heard of spring cleaning.) Don’t be afraid to let go of items you do not need or want anymore. You might get inspiration from danshari, a decluttering method originating from Japan that involves tossing away unnecessary items to enjoy a tidier, more minimalist lifestyle.
Once you have decluttered, you may feel more motivated, living in an environment that can be much kinder to your mental health.
Do I have to get through these days alone?
Many people feel some unexplainable shift in mood alongside the shift in seasons—and choose to face their struggles alone. It can be hard to feel supported in these challenging times because of this.
Do you ever feel like your friends are more distant at times? This noticeable decrease in social interactions with those close to you, resulting from increased responsibilities such as school, can make you feel insufficiently supported.
So, identify and maintain the interpersonal support in your life that you know can keep you going. Maybe yours is your friends. In that case, connect with them often. If your family is the support you lean on, connect with them more as well. Whether you and those important to you take exciting trips, hang out at your favourite spots, or just talk, these interactions will surely help you power through times of uncertainty. Together, you can fight through the darkening days head-on!
Additionally, remember that you are not alone in your feelings, no matter what you’re experiencing. Having this in mind may bring a sense of belonging when you are feeling most alone.
What if I prefer to keep to myself?
Of course, calling up a friend is not always the best option possible. Many people are left exhausted after socializing for extended periods, which makes constant interaction not only unnecessary, but also stress-inducing.
If you aren’t into forming or maintaining social interactions during these dark days, don’t feel like you have to seek out these interactions to feel better. While it is important to connect with those you care about and are close to, it is also necessary to take time for yourself to recharge such as by taking breaks. If you prefer to have this alone time over hanging out with friends, feel free to have as much solitude as you wish.
But even if you do feel energized when socializing, having this time can be important. Allow yourself to gather your thoughts. Let your mind wander to faraway lands, dream about the things you love, and give yourself time to enjoy life. After taking mindful breaks, you can feel empowered to face the challenges of the days to come.
What if my body isn’t feeling happy, either?
aking great care of your mind is extremely important, and so is taking care of your body. In fact, giving attention to your physical wellbeing can improve your mental wellbeing. This is why doing physical activity like exercising is known to be so effective for improving mood.
So, if you feel like you need to get your workout in any capacity, don’t hesitate to be active! Your exercise can be as extravagant or simple as you wish. Do what works for you. These activities could be a run on the treadmill, a trip to the gym, rock climbing, dance lessons, yoga, and much more. Even a short walk in the neighbourhood to start the day is a great way to get your body moving. Really, the possibilities are endless, and both your body and brain will thank you for whatever you choose.
Again, how you get your physical activity is ultimately up to you. That said, feel free to go outside and get some fresh air! The sky may be painted dark and grey at times, but the refreshing air will surely send a satisfying, comforting wave of oxygen through your system.
What other tips can I get?
It is understandable to feel a certain way as the days darken, seemingly increasingly so as time passes. Many of us struggle with this somber period as it may be reflecting the growing gloom within us.
Still, this can be the perfect opportunity to appreciate the beauty of darker days. As you read earlier, taking care of the surroundings is an important step in self-care. While this can include making changes in the space around you, there is so much that is already there to admire.
Take a look at the unique changes the world undergoes, borne from the shifting seasons. From the colourful leaves on the trees to the timely fashion that pedestrians wear on the streets, darker days bring so much beauty that you would not see otherwise. Appreciate the cozy atmosphere of your home and cherish the cool air as you step outside.
Yes, you may be struggling during these times for various reasons. Try to prioritize embracing the dim ambience—and the presents it brings—over attributing your struggles to the darkening days.
Know that tackling self-care can be done in so many ways. No matter which methods you choose, be sure to do what is right for you as you keep yourself shining in the dark days to come!