Autumn and Winter Well-being

This month I was asked to write about coping with the disappearing sun, for our local magazine All About Malvern. This is the article I wrote:

 

Worcester has disappeared into the mist that is sitting in the Severn Valley. The garden is damp from a wave of rain that passed over the hills. Soon, the sun will dip under the horizon and the dark night will come.

I’m writing this in early September, and it’s not quite evening. The days have been getting noticeably shorter recently, and I am reminded of winter days in my youth when I would walk to work in the dark, walk home in the dark and spend the day longing for natural light rather than the fluorescent glow of the department store I was working in.

As summer draws to a close I also find myself remembering those first days of sunshine this year, after the long snowy winter. The sprits of the whole town seemed to lift when the bright weather arrived.

What can we do to stay happy as the hours of light become less, the temperature cools, and the clouds roll in?

Hygge

Lots of you will have heard of Hygge. Pronounced Hue-guh, this is a Danish word that means something like cosiness. When interviewed by the BBC Susanne Nilson said, “Hygge could be families and friends getting together for a meal, with the lighting dimmed, or it could be time spent on your own reading a good book.”

Maybe we can think of Hygge as creating conditions that help us to relax: Lighting candles, or sitting around a fire (inside or outside), creating a winter evening playlist that slowly gets more and more chilled, or sharing a good meal with friends.

Getting outside

As Arthur Wainwright famously said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” Getting outside means getting vitamin D. It means moving the body, and it means you’re more likely to look at trees. All of these things are really good for you. In cold damp weather I pften feel reluctant to go up onto the hills, but every time I do I feel better afterwards.

Eating well

This summer I’ve been enjoying lots of wonderful salads and Buddha bowls for lunch. Our veg. patch needed plenty of watering but the results were amazing, and it’s been great to go outside pick something and have it on my plate minutes later. Now the earth is turning different things are coming into season, and I’ll be enjoying homemade soups with squash, leeks and other winter goodies.

Sometimes – particularly when I’m on my own – cooking can seem like a chore. But when I eat good food I always feel better.

Community

Maybe it feels easier to meet people when the weather is good, and easier to stay at home on your own on cold dark nights. But we are social beings. We each like different amounts of company, but some company is good for the soul, so host a dinner party, meet a friend for a coffee, or join a book club.

Plan something you enjoy

If the thought of a long dark winter really does lower your mood then make sure you plan some bright spots. Make a date with yourself, or a friend, and put it in your diary. Having something to look forward to in the future can make you feel better right now.

As the weather changes, and the light changes, it can be easy to fall into wishing for the autumn and winter to already be over. All of the suggestions I’ve made today are based on accepting the reality of what is, and finding ways of appreciating and making the most of what is happening right now.

Whether you are a cold weather person or a hot weather person, I hope you have an easy and enjoyable autumn and winter.

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