November 6 marks the end of Daylight Savings, when we “fall back” – setting our clocks an hour earlier so that we gain daylight earlier in the morning.
While the sunrise may come earlier, the sunset does as well, as our waking hours in the months ahead are filled with shorter, colder days.
Daylight savings changes can create a challenging transition; from disrupted sleep at the outset to lowering our moods as the fall and winter draw on and we experience less hours of sunlight. Additionally, the darkness and colder temperatures may see us spend less time outdoors and become more sedentary – and sunlight and exercise are both known mood boosters.
So how can you ease the transition on November 6 and in the weeks and months ahead?
The team at Whole Heart offers these tips:
Getting an adequate amount of sleep every night is key and that starts with building habits to support that. While the clocks falling back might make us feel we’ve gained an hour and can stay up later, it’s best to go to bed at your usual time – which really becomes an hour earlier, to help your body adjust to the time change. Begin winding down earlier in the day, avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol, and limit your screen use before bed. You can also check out our virtual Pre-bedtime Meditation for Relaxation classes.
Food can affect the development, prevention, and management of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety disorders. Food can fuel us or leave us sluggish as well. Alcohol, spicy, high fat and high protein foods that are consumed too close to bedtime can all negatively impact sleep. Complex carbohydrates however don’t take long to digest and trigger our bodies to release serotonin which helps us feel sleepy. Whole Heart’s nutritionist can help you learn ways to achieve healthy eating that’s right for you.
Time in Nature
Try to get outside in the morning to make up for the loss of sunlight after school or work. Sunlight is a mood booster and studies have also shown that time in nature can help improve mood and reduce stress. Our Virtual Guided Walking Meditation Class is an opportunity to get active and get outside while experiencing the benefits of meditation and mindfulness.
At a time of year when we tend to become more insular and introspective, learning to observe our thoughts without getting carried away in them is an important skill. Mindfulness can help us to calm our minds, gain clarity around difficulties and more easily identify moments of gratitude. All-important qualities when we may be struggling with our want for warmer temperatures and sunlight. Whole Heart also offer an Introduction to Mindfulness for Teens.
Research confirms that regular exercise positively effects mood. Aim to have 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. If you find the colder temperature or darkness create challenges for outdoor exercise, get moving inside. There are many live virtual classes and instructional videos available online for all levels of ability.
Attempting to adjust to the change in time and season, but you or someone in your life is struggling with their mental health? Seek professional help. The team at Whole Heart are here to help support adults, teens, children and families both in-person and virtually.
The team at Whole Heart is dedicated to helping families live better lives. To learn about our programs and services go to: https://wholeheartmentalhealth.com/services/