Updated: Mar 31
As the days get shorter and the weather takes a very British turn for the worse, it’s important to keep your health and wellbeing at the forefront of your mind. That’s why we’ve listed a few tips and tricks to help you stay on top form this autumn and keep those winter blues and flus away.
With just a few subtle changes to how you look after yourself this Autumn, you can go a long way to protecting yourself from anxiety, sniffles, runny noses and dry eyes.
Dreading the end of summer? You're not the only one. Experts have confirmed there is a link between the changing of the seasons and a decline in your mood. But, before the winter months hit, how do the seasons affect your mood exactly?
While you may notice that you get down in the winter, and may attribute this to the "winter blues", Seasonal Affective Disorder (known as SAD) — where your mood is affected by the changing of the seasons — is a real thing, and is described by the NHS website as "a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern." According to a 2014 research report by the Weather Channel and YouGov, one in three people (27 percent of the population) in Britain suffer from SAD, and women are 50 percent more likely to report suffering from the disorder than men.
Medical experts have attributed many of the symptoms of SAD to shorter days, and thus, patients receiving a lack of sunlight. This means that as soon as the nights start closing in, which will become more noticeable as autumn edges ever closer, sufferers will start experiencing symptoms, which include low mood, irritability, feelings of worthlessness, persistent fatigue, and cravings for carbohydrate-laden comfort food.
People with winter difficulties often experience low energy levels, less enthusiasm and optimism, and difficulty concentrating and getting things done when the days get shorter and dark, and this can last all the way through till the spring.
Exercise & Light
There are various lifestyle changes sufferers can make to help alleviate the symptoms. Firstly, exercise. The cure to so many ills, exercise will not only help to boost your mood, but it will also help to ensure you sleep solidly through the night. Try to maintain a moderate level of exercise through the day, and move regularly — it doesn't need to be anything too taxing, just a walk around the park will do.
Meanwhile, there are certain measures you can take to ensure that the reduced amount of daylight has minimal impact. With experts confirming that SAD arises in part due to a lack of sunlight, ensure you get as much light as possible during the day, opening all curtains and blinds, and taking time to go outside. Also, consider investing in a light therapy box, a device created specifically to help tackle SAD symptoms. On the flip side though, insomnia can exacerbate the symptoms of SAD, so ensure your bedroom is as dark as possible come nighttime.
Furthermore, as with so many mental health issues, communication is key. As winter comes, some people will find themselves feeling down, tired, and less motivated to keep active and engaged in social activities. But resist the urge to shut yourself away from your nearest and dearest. Isolation will only increase feelings of despair brought on by SAD, and there's really no limit to the benefits that quality time with your closest friends can have. Plus, talking to people always helps.
Fight the flu
For all the golden brown leaves and cosy evenings in we enjoy, autumn also brings about the first cold or flu since the winter for most people. This can be quite a shock to the system and is always unpleasant, whether it’s just a stuffy blocked nose or a chesty cough. Keep the cold at bay by wrapping up in a coat and scarf, particularly during the evenings when the temperature gets that little bit lower. And, in a more general sense, you’ll find that eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly and washing your hands regularly won’t just make you feel better, but will boost your immune system and reduce the likelihood of catching a cold.
Protect your hands and face
With each drop in temperature that occurs between September and November, it feels like there’s another layer of clothing needed just to stay warm. The cold winds can freeze our hands, faces and lips, often requiring additional moisture to keep cracked skin and dryness under control. That’s why products such as moisturiser, hand cream and Chapstick are very effective options for keeping your skin and lips protected. So, as well as wrapping up in a few more layers and protecting your skin, make sure to bring any of these products with you if you’re particularly prone to the effects of the autumn gales.
Keep eyes safe from dry eye
It’s not just skin that we need to worry about. Eyes are equally as vulnerable to these adverse weather conditions, and can easily dry out as a result. Dry and irritated eyes can be extremely uncomfortable, especially for contact lenswearers, while they can cause blurry vision and other potentially dangerous distractions. This is why it’s a great idea to carry some eye drops with you when you’re out of the house, just in case you need to reintroduce some moisture to your eyes or lenses.
Eat good, Feel Good
While you might be struggling with the loss of al fresco dining and tapas by the sea now that summer has come and gone, there’s still plenty of delicious and hearty food to be enjoyed in autumn. Because while the temptation to gorge on pasta and cookies may be overwhelmingly strong, experts advise to stay away from the biscuit tin and focus on fresh fruit and veg, proteins, and omega 3-rich foods. Carbohydrates and sugars cause a spike in blood sugar levels — and the crash that follows can impact on your mood also. It’s always been the season of the soup, so why not try a creamy pumpkin & lentil soup this autumn? Alternatively, you could go the way of the stew with a spiced chicken, spinach & sweet potato stew or try to add some Italian sunshine into your kitchen with roasted squash, pancetta & chestnut risotto. Whichever meals you decide to try out this autumn, it’s always good to make sure you’re picking up some of the important vitamins that your body needs, and that your eyes need to stay healthy.
Don’t turn a blind eye to the sun
Although those hot summer days at the beach, in the beer garden or by the pool might seem like just a distant memory, you’ll still need to be mindful of the threat that the sun poses to your eyes all year round. Sunglasses offer exceptional UV protection, particularly those with a wraparound frame that reduces exposure, and often make the perfect accessory for many an autumn outfit.
It goes without saying to ensure that you continue to wear your daylight protection spf 30-50 during the autumn months to protect your skin from damaging UV light.