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Autumnal Blues

Summer is over, the nights are drawing in, COVID-19 restrictions are being tightened, the weather is cooler. It is the season for autumnal blues to set in. Most people suffer some form of a downer at this time of year. For many this is really mild, but for others, the Black Dog looms deep. With the year we are having, the chances are for many, this year could be worse than usual.

So what can you do about it? Here are some suggestions. As a caveat, if you are not feeling yourself and are worried, speak to someone - a friend, your GP. Don't bottle it up. You can also contact the Samaritans (details at the end of this article) or other similar organisations.

Autumnal Blues is often called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)- something we discussed way back in February.

One way you can ease symptoms is by being a morning person. Even on cloudy days, going outside for 30 minutes between 6am and 10am when daylight is strongest can help reset your internal body clock and fight SAD.

Another method is to reset your sleeping pattern. Longer hours of darkness cause increased levels of melatonin – the sleep hormone – making you feel sleepy in the day, but restless at night. Try and stick to a routine of going to bed and getting up at the same time.

Avoid eating carbs and eat low-fat seasonal treats, which are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants such as: swede, sweet potato and pumpkins (high in vitamin C, fibre and the antioxidant, betacarotene); apples and pears (full of antioxidants and fibre); or figs (high in fibre and a good source of calcium).

Rev up your sex life - within COVID restrictions of course - at a time when you're both not feeling tired or sluggish.

Release those endorphins by laughing regularly with your favourite sitcom or comedy film.

Detox from the alcohol. Even just for a week. You'll notice the difference.

Get out there exercising - walk or cycle, go to the gym, get a fitness DVD. Getting up just 30 minutes earlier each morning makes it easier to fit exercise into a busy schedule. An early workout can also boost your energy levels for the rest of the day and give you an endorphin high for up to seven hours after exercising.

Supplement your diet with vitamin D tablets - especially if you spend most of your time indoors.

If you are feeling exhausted, look pale or struggling to concentrate, boost your iron intake. Ideally, you need two servings of iron-rich food every day – the best sources being red meat, fish, eggs, bread, fortified breakfast cereals, pulses, green leafy vegetables and dried fruit.

Enjoying the great outdoors can boost your mood and self-esteem. Watch nature around you. The geese are beginning their migrations back to the UK at the moment, or you may have other local wildlife you can watch. Alternatively there are plenty of live webcams you can monitor. My favourite is the nightly showing of a badger family.

However you do it, there are many many ways of boosting your morale, your quality of life as autumn sets in. Good luck.

This article is a part of our Four Seasons of Health and Safety campaign.

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