What to Do when Lack of Sunlight is Affecting Your Mood

Autumn is officially here, and the days will only get shorter until December. Add to this the greater frequency of overcast days, and the lack of sunlight can begin to affect your mood.

There is even a scientific term for the condition when autumn and winter strongly influence your mood: Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known by its unmistakable acronym, SAD.

Sometimes you’d rather stay under the covers than face another rainy day. It is normal to experience this.

There are things you can do to vastly improve your mood and build up resilience. Here are five strategies to get you through autumn and early winter.

1. Get up earlier. 

Sleeping in is more tempting, the colder and darker it gets. It’s best to resist this.

Yes, your bed is warm and cozy, but the longer you stay tucked in, the more minutes of sunlight you’re missing.

Get up with the sunrise and be sure to open the curtains and blinds.

The natural light, even if it is grey and diffuse on a rainy day, will jump-start your circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep in the evening.

And better sleep, matched to the natural rhythm of night and day, is one of the best ways to achieve a stable mood and keep the positive attitude you will need in the winter.

2. Try to go outside.

This is one thing dog-owners are much better at than the rest of us.

If your beloved pet is depending on you, you have no choice: rain, hail, or sleet, you have to go for a walk twice a day. There’s no room for excuses.

Studies show that we are often kinder to friends and others than we are to ourselves. ‚Äč

We’re willing to go outside for the sake of our dog. So why not for ourselves?

Time spent outdoors is a powerful mood-booster, even on an overcast day. Take yourself on a walk to the nearest park, or wherever you can see a bit of nature.

Even ten minutes can recharge you and make a difference.

3. How about an art museum?

Yes, we mean one of those places with pictures on the walls. Why? Because museums tend to have excellent lighting that is either natural, or imitates natural light.

Art museums are usually housed in buildings with high ceilings and tall windows that give you a sense of space. The wide, open rooms are designed for walking.

In autumn and winter, when the weather is too terrible to be outside, an art museum is the next best thing to taking a walk. Try one in your city. You may surprise yourself, feel special, and learn something new, too.

4. Full-spectrum lamp.

Technology is on our side when it comes to seasonal mood changes. Full-spectrum lightbulbs are designed to emulate sunlight, which combines rays with different frequencies.

On gloomy winter days, a lamp with one of these bulbs can be a lifesaver. It does feel almost like warm sunlight on your face.

Full-spectrum light is especially effective in the morning, when your circadian rhythm switches to daytime. A few minutes in this light while you’re drinking your coffee will give you a brighter start to the day.

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