Looking After Your Mind and Body When the Clocks Go Back

Balance is in style. Mastering motherhood, a successful career, and your social life is a challenge. But you make it work. Even living well is becoming easier thanks to daylight savings time –a natural slice of your life.

And then October comes around.

When the clocks go back, there’s a subtle shift. The ease of every day seems disrupted; as if you have to welcome a whole new routine all over again.

We’ve all been there. But looking after yourself a little more at this time of the year can kickstart it all.

How Does Daylight Savings Time Affect Your Mind and Body?

When the clocks go back, a messed-up sleep cycle comes back around as you (and the kids!) essentially sleep in. At first, it feels great. However now, you’re lacking in sunlight after months of brighter evenings and lighter air. And light is the feel-good factor we all know and love.

With a drop in daylight, the appearance of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can become apparent as a constant low-mood state that’s difficult to shift and brought on by the shorter days in the autumn and winter.

The Impact of SAD

If you feel a little off in autumn and winter, you may be experiencing SAD. The lack of sunlight causes a disturbance in the brain. The sleep hormone, melatonin, can increase production and the mood hormone, serotonin, can lower in the body and lead to a tired, depressive-like effect.

Your internal clock is altered too. Naturally, we use sunlight as an indicator to wake up, and darkness as a sign to sleep. So lower light levels can mess up your body clock in winter.

But you might not always notice that it’s SAD at first. So as intrusive and unwanted as it can feel, keeping a close eye on your emotions can help you to combat it. Be more mindful of your moods and energy levels, as these are strong indicators. 

How Daylight Affects Your Mood

SAD is commonly associated with unexplained feelings of sadness, or hopelessness hanging over you. Energy levels tend to dip, and everyday activities appear exhausting. You may have difficulty concentrating, even on things you love. Your sleep cycle may be out of sync and appetite changes are common. And every little thing can get to you.

Combat SAD with a Daily Routine

By making a few small conscious lifestyle changes, you can restore your good mood. Nothing drastic, just simple ways that improve your mood.

Keeping exercise routines up during the darker months can make all the difference. With exercise, we welcome generous self-esteem boost.  Creating a consistent workout routine that slots into your schedule is all it takes.

Try a high-energy dance class or form a running club with your friends. Even walking more can work.

And if you’re looking for some simple, easy wins, you could:

  • Get a wake-up light alarm clock that mimics sunrise and encourages your body to wake up slowly, as it would throughout summer.
  • Wake up a little earlier and do something just for you. Maybe it’s morning yoga or meditation? A few simple stretches or journaling?
  • Run a warm bath before bed or read, with the aim of falling asleep earlier.

Embrace Healthy Eating Habits

It’s a well-known fact that eating healthily can help maintain your energy levels. And by keeping your healthy eating habits regular, it’s easier to keep your daily routine in check. Eating consistently balanced meals that include foods that release energy slowly is the key. Think a mix of proteins, carbs, and veggies.

Here are a few suggestions that you can make quickly and easily:

  • Breakfasts with eggs, avocado, warming porridge, or Greek yoghurt and muesli.
  • Healthy snacks such as berries and nuts and healthy dips, like guacamole.
  • Nutrient-dense lunch options like a grilled chicken and salad wrap or a whole wheat pasta salad.
  • Balanced evenings meals with lean meats or fish, whole grains like rice or lentils, and lots of fresh veg to go with it.

The simple act of embracing a healthy diet and lifestyle can lift your mood, increase your energy, and transform your tiresome sleep cycle.

Daylight savings time has the power to play with your mind and body, but only if you let it. Take back control of your sleep cycle and say goodbye to SAD with small lifestyle changes. Who knew healthy eating and a daily routine could save the season?


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