As the days get shorter, the sunshine lessens and the temperature dips, that unwelcome feeling returns and envelops us; the end of summer blues.
A healthy dose of sunlight can boost your mood by increasing the brain’s release of serotonin. Serotonin can help you feel calm and focused, so naturally when sunlight is restricted and serotonin levels dip, depressive thoughts and low mood creeps in. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is the nasty little guy responsible for those winter-time blues, exacerbated by going to school or work in the dark and coming home in the dark. There’s nothing worse than going a whole day without setting a foot outside in the sunshine.
Whilst we can’t wish for summer to continue all year round, there are ways of easing into the new season a little more comfortably with a happier disposition.
1. Plan for a future holiday
You might still be reeling from the credit card bill from your latest holiday, but research has shown that planning for a future trip will give your mood a much needed boost. Everyone likes to have something to look forward to and planning your next big or mini getaway is the perfect way to boost your happiness levels.
Even if you aren’t ready to book and purchase, you can still plan out your next holiday and start discussing what far off places you’d like to visit, what things you’d like to do and what cultures you’d like to experience.
2. SAD light therapy
SAD can be treated in a number of different ways. If it’s very severe then you will need to look at cognitive behavioural therapy or perhaps anti-depressive medication, but for feelings of general low mood there is a simple, affordable option out there.
Light therapy is a proven, effective method of treating SAD and there is a plethora of products out there for you to choose from. They work by mimicking the sunrise, filling the room with a light that gradually gets brighter and brighter until it awakens you. This provides a natural signal to your body to adjust hormone levels, which boosts mood, energy and productivity levels.
3. Create a happy playlist
Referred to as a natural anti-depressant, music affects the human brain by triggering areas responsible for emotion and mood. Listening to upbeat music can improve mood through serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine production, all of which bring elation, happiness and an all round sense of wellbeing.
Compile your happy playlist with all of your favourite tunes and if you’re feeling a bit lost on where to start, then simply google ‘happy playlists’ or have a nosey on Spotify.
4. Spend quality time with loved ones
Happiness studies have confirmed that spending time with friends and family can boost your wellbeing and mood. Of course, that all depends on the nature of your relationships, but taking time out from busy schedules to catch up with a friend over dinner or to go on a date night with your partner as simple, easy ways of improving your day.
5. Look after your diet
A good diet goes a long way in keeping you healthy and happy. Eating more fruit and vegetables will undoubtedly help you to feel and look better, it will give you more energy and help you avoid that lethargic feeling after eating one too many stodgy comfort foods.
6. Get some fresh air
Take a break from the computer, head outside and try to grab as much of the sunlight as possible. A quick 10 or 15minute walk can make all the difference to your mood and give you a little energy boost to see you through the rest of the afternoon. Don’t let the rain put you off and cover up with a waterproof coat.
The simplest and easiest tip is to just smile. Smiling can trick you into adopting a new mindset and give you a much sunnier and happier disposition. After all, as the Charlie Chaplin song goes;
‘If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through