Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is on the reportedly on the increase and at this time of year, we can all feel miserable and out of sorts as the temperatures start dropping, the skies stay cloudy, grey and dark and the early mornings are gloomy, making us need lights on in the morning and in the evenings darkness falls earlier and earlier. Yep, it's enough to give even the most cheerful of us a moment of despression, never mind the estimated third of us.
Yes, the change in seasons affects us, of course it does, but should it depresses us? I don't believe so, after all, we are natural beings, of the earth and as such designed to work with nature in harmony. I think SAD is more caused by our modern disconnectedness with nature and the unnatural lives we force on ourselves.
The days are getting shorter and it's getting colder, and in nature everything is starting to slow down, wrap up and close in for the long winter months. Animals store food and prepare to sleep more and do less, in tune with the earth's winter hiberbation.
But us, us crazy human beings, we force ourselves to keep to the same hectic busy routine we have day after day regardeless of whether it's December or July. We get up at the same time every morning, we probably even have the same food every day, we go to work or school, sit under harsh artifical light, we exist in concrete and steel, we go home, watch tv, eat dinner and go to bed at the same time.
Instead of making allowances for the change of the seasons, we attempt to master them, the only concession given being warmer clothes and hopefully warmer food. Doesn't that seem a little crzy?
Instead, I believe if we respect the natural cycles of the world and develop strategies and tactics that nuture us, we would thrive through Autumn and Winter
So what can you do to naturally improve how you feel during the long Autumn and Winter months?
I start with Nesting.
Lighting is very important, change bulbs to a softer, warm glow than a harsh bright light. I always have lots of scented candles and votives around to light up for extra light and warmth. Everyone and everything looks better in soft lighting and it's much easier on the and psyche than the bright white lighting we see everywhere across the industrialised world.
Nuture yourself with good food, this is the season of harvest and plenty, and there's so much colour and energy and health to be gained from eating the seasonal offerings. I make lots of lovely warm soups, stews and roasts, all vegetarian, as I gave up meat a year ago and I love not being a flesheater.
Mimic the rhythms of nature as much as you can, go to bed earlier and if you can sleep a bit later.
Soak up natural light when you can. Change your work schedule so you can take a 30-45min walk during your lunch and absorb the admittedly limited natural light available. Midday is the brightest light, regardless of the time of year, so get out between 12-2pm and and energise yourself with a bit of exercise at the same time.
Reconnect with the earth. I love meditation and visualisation, especially when you feel an immediate shift and this visualisation always makes me feel a tingle. Step onto bare earth or grass in your bare feet, so you can feel the ground beneath you and you are connected to the earth. Close your eyes and start to reach out with all your senses one by one.
Start with your ears, listen to the world around you, what sounds do you hear, what noises do you become aware of as you stay still and concentrate on the world around you.
Then smell, take deep breaths in through your nostrils and sense the world through scent, Autumn smells so different to summer, and both smell so different to winter and all are different to spring, not better or worse, simply different. Smell the differences and appreciate them.
Taste the smells now and taste the air around you, what does it remind you of.
Reach out now with the sense of touch, do you feel the air on your skin, a breeze tossing your hair, rain falling on you, the ground beneath your feet, the hairs on your nape stirring?
Finally, open your eyes and see the world around you, the sky, the ground, your environment and be thankful that you are here and now.
Close you eyes again and start to imagine the power of the earth, I imagine it as a lava flow, warm, red, powerful, magnificent, inexorable. Feel the power of the earth rising up from the ground into your feet, up through the soles of your feet, up your ankles, up your legs past your knees and hips. the warm, red, powerful energy of the earth is flowing into your body, up past your stomach, rising up through your chest, up your next and into your head. Feel your body being filled right up with the wonderful, warm, red, power of the earth. Store that energy up and know that it gives you power too. Then release, take a deep breath and open your eyes. Let me know how great you feel if you do this every day for a week or a month or every day for a year!