It’s that time of year, again. The leaves are starting to change to vibrant oranges and yellows, slowly making their way to piles on the ground. Daisies are replaced by pumpkins. We start to pack away the memories of Summer, what’s left behind of the BBQ’s and pool days. We pull out the sweaters from last year and debate whether to turn on the heat or see how long we can hold out for. Fall. A time for change. Although change can be a good thing, it is not always easy.
While some of us are ready to gain an extra hour of sleep this weekend, not everyone may be as excited for the upcoming time change. “Falling back” can feel a lot like falling behind this time of year. We start to think about the holidays and everything on our to-do list. Maybe, we are busy winterizing our homes. It might start to feel like there is not enough time in the day.
Darkness now arrives earlier, often creating a sense of feeling like the day should be over when we might still have a lot to get done. We might leave for work in the dark, only to arrive back home, yet again, in the dark. This can create a sense of feeling as though the day flew by too quickly. We may be left feeling unaccomplished or like we did not get to take time to relax or spend time with our families. The lack of sunlight can also lead to symptoms of depression, and Seasonal Affective Disorder.
All of these changes are why it is important we take extra care of our mental health this time of year. Take breaks if you can. Step outside to get a dose of sunlight. Make time to enjoy doing something that makes you happy. Journal. Write out your thoughts and feelings, and then explore them. Spend good, quality time with the people you care about, even if it’s a short amount of time. Taking care of your mental health should be as important as taking care of your physical health. Our mental health and our physical health are intertwined with each other.
Did you know, it can take a week or more for your body’s internal clock to adjust to a new schedule? It may seem silly that an hour can affect our bodies so much. However, you might find yourself ready for lunch by 10:00am, and the “hangry monster” coming out when you don’t get it. This is your body attempting to be on it’s normal routine.
There are suggestions for coping with the difficulties of “Falling Back.” Such as, making a gradual shift in your schedule and going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier each day prior to the time change. Not only during the time change, but all year long, we should be creating a healthy bedtime routine. This applies to both children and adults. Avoiding screen time and high-intensity light prior to bedtime can help your brain quiet down for the day. One may also want to avoid alcohol, caffeine and exercise close to bedtime. Your sleeping environment should be relaxing and calm. You have probably heard of meditation. Give it a try; it really can help!
If you find yourself struggling with your physical or mental health, or with adjusting to the seasonal changes, contact your health care provider or mental health professional. We are here to help!