As the days become shorter at this time of year some of us may notice a change in our mood and energy levels. What are the possible reasons for this and what can we do to keep the autumn blues away?
Sunlight affects some of the chemicals and hormones in our brain. It is thought that reduced exposure to natural light might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly and this may affect the production of the following hormones:
- Serotonin – a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep; a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is linked to feelings of depression, stress or anxiety.
- Melatonin – a hormone that makes you feel sleepy; the body may produce it in higher than normal levels when natural light levels decrease.
Also, our body uses sunlight to time various important functions, such as when you wake up, so lower light levels during autumn and winter may disrupt your body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm), affecting mood and energy levels. You may find that you sleep longer than normal and find it hard to get up in the morning or feel lethargic and sleepy during the day.
Other symptoms that may be experienced with these changes in hormone levels include:
- A persistent low mood, negative thoughts and feelings
- A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
- Feelings of irritability, tension or inability to deal with stress
- Feelings of despair, guilt or loss of self-esteem
- Over eating, increased desire for carbohydrates and weight gain
So what can we do to improve our mood and energy levels at this time of year? Well boosting our ‘serotonin pool’ will help. Here is a handy guide to boosting the right hormones and chemicals to get your brain on board and help you to beat those blues. This is a workable 10 point plan to help you feel more positive about things.
- Keep active – take at least half an hour’s exercise 3 to 4 times a week.
- Get outside – spend some time outdoors in natural daylight, preferably in a natural environment . Research shows there is a direct link between nature and happiness.
- Connect – Keep in touch with people you care about. Spend quality time with friends and family. Take time to talk, have an uninterrupted conversation with your partner, close friend or neighbour each week.
- Take up a new hobby – try a new class, a new activity or volunteer. Do something that keeps your mind active and gives you something to look forward to.
- Count your blessings – at the end of each day reflect on one or two things you are grateful for.
- Cut your TV viewing down.
- Smile and look up – be mindful of your environment, be in the moment, notice the sky, the trees, the tops of buildings etc.
- Do something different – break habits, do something different, go somewhere different…. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result (Einstein).
- Have a good laugh – at least once a week.
- Spread some kindness – do a good turn for someone whenever you can.
If you are struggling with low mood, stress or any other symptoms listed above, hypnotherapy can help. Please call 07514 931 096 or email me using the contact form to find out more.