Changing seasons, changing moods
The changing seasons are a thing of beauty. Many poets have lamented about the warm orange hues of the leaves as they fall gently to the ground. The morning sun that rises to the crisp cool air and the cool breeze that kisses our cheeks and whispers through our hair. Many poets have spoken sweet words about the changing colours of autumn. Autumn however for some is a reminder of the coming cold and dark weather. It is for many that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) a time of low mood, tiredness and even feelings of depression. Seasonal affective disorder as defined in NHS.uk is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. Sometimes known as "winter depression" because the symptoms are more apparent and tends to be more severe during the winter.
It seems well placed then that World Mental Health Day is recognised on October 10th every year. The theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health this year is psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress. Because good Mental health is everyone’s business, and is just as important as good physical health, there are a few “exercises” that can be done every day for yourself or for others that help maintain good mental health and wellbeing whether it’s sunny or rainy outside…
1. Practising mindfulness
According to http://bemindful.co.uk Mindfulness is the state of regaining calm by remaining in the present. It is a “…mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.” As a result, one is able to be fully present in decision making, not forcing things or hiding from them, but actually being with them and as a result can respond to situations and make wise choices. This doesn’t mean having all the answers but it does mean learning how to live with more appreciation and less anxiety.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists cites the link between how sedentary behaviour caused by the increase in machines (such as driving more and sedentary jobs is linked to the increase of mental health cases. The mind and body functions together and must be maintained together. If a person is not feeling so great, this affects mental health and if mental health is not so well, a person is less likely to get out and about. The advice given is that exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous. Any small amount of physical activity is good such as going for a walk, gardening, dancing or walking the dog. By moving more, this affects the hormones in the brain and results in feelings of calm, less stress and lower levels of anxiety.
3. Talk to someone
Talk to a Doctor, a therapist, a therapy group, family, a friend over the phone, it’s good to talk as the common phrase goes. According to the Harvard report, the easiest but most effective one of these is to socialise. The report states that; “Good connections can improve health and increase longevity” this is because; “Social connections like these not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.” Although sometimes one may not feel like talking, it may be that activity that prevents a lower mood and improves mental wellbeing.
4. Be thankful and do something nice
There is so much to be grateful for and there is always so much that can be done for others. According to Prevention.com people that engage in acts of kindness become happier over time. This doesn’t have to be anything extravagant but includes; holding the door open for someone, doing chores for other people, donating to charity, and buying lunch for a friend.
When the weather gets colder and the days get darker, looking after our mental wellbeing should be just as important as wrapping up warm to prevent a cold. Let us look after ourselves and look out for each other.
image from dwellingbird designs
This story was featured in:
Indie love Magazine
Crossroads Healing Magazine