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  • Writer's pictureTracy Haynes

Transition From Summer To Winter

Updated: Apr 28, 2023


Transition From Summer To Winter

When autumn is upon us… winter is just around the corner…


Some people love the winter, I used to dread it, it’s cold and dark, making it difficult to get enough sunlight and it restricts so many activities that are possible during the lighter months. Walking the dogs in what feels like the middle of the night before leaving for work in the mornings. Driving to work and back in the dark. It all seemed so bleak and gloomy and the months dragged on far slower than the spring and summer. The arrival of autumn for me used to be like a stark cautioning that winter is on its way!


So, when Autumn is now upon us and Winter is looming, it is that time of year where I consciously take control of my mindset, to ensure I appreciate these months. We have to get through them no matter what, so why not find a way to love them, rather than loathe them?


Autumn, according to the meteorological calendar, begins in September and ends in November. The astronomical calendar marks the beginning of Autumn by the autumn equinox, which occurs around the 22 September and due to a change in temperatures, the chemical chlorophyll, which makes leaves green, starts to break down, whilst other chemicals for example carotene remain, which gives the leaves various stunning shades of red, yellow, purple, black, magenta, orange, pink and brown. Focusing on the beauty that Autumn brings now helps me appreciate these months.


Then of course the clocks go back, but not until the end of October, so getting out there and appreciating the beautiful changes of nature, whilst the daylight enables us to, is a must and not a should.

Once the autumn nights start drawing in and the dark is upon us earlier and earlier, our spring and summer routines are restricted. No more warm summer evening strolls, I can no longer sit in the garden, enjoying the warm summer evenings or enjoy BBQs with friends. Nevertheless, I decided that there must be a way to equally enjoy the changes in the seasons and make them enjoyable too.


You see the more I learnt about the brain and mental health, the more I realised how much is due to what we think… What you think you feel, and what you feel effects your behaviour.


So, instead of embarking on this change in the seasons with a negative view, I thought about what I do enjoy about them. I love cosy real fires and candles, so I changed our gas fire in the living room to a real wood and coal burning fire. I purchased lots of battery-operated candles, they look so authentic, but of course they are much safer. I bought two huge candles and put them in two large glass bowls on top of the fireplace. They are safe up there away from any wagging tails or little inquisitive fingers.


My partner built a wood store under the bookshelf and I have a basket of wood next to the fire, alongside the coal bucket. I filled the bookcases with books, as many old ones as I could (that’s a work in progress). That’s another favourite pass-time for the cold winter days, browsing around old second-hand book shops. I now love the winter evenings, albeit they are totally different from the summer, they are cosy, snuggly and warm. I even enjoy the whole rigmarole of actually making the fire.


So… autumn, I now approach with a brighter attitude of enjoying the stunning colours and crisper days. Getting out there and making the most of as much daylight as I possibly can. I embark upon the winter looking forward to the cosy nights around the fire, with the warm glow of the candles. Everyone is drawn to the fire and it makes a great focal point, encouraging late night chats with friends and family.


I do appreciate though that the short days for some can have a very real negative impact, for example those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons. Symptoms can often begin during autumn as the days start to become shorter and can include; persistent low mood; feelings of despair and irritability. Typically, they are most severe during December, January and February and then begin to subside once the spring arrives, bringing with it the promise of the light nights of summer again and beautiful sunny days.


Currently SAD is not fully understood, however, it is often linked to reduced exposure to sunlight. One theory suggests that a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may have an effect on the production of melatonin and Serotonin. Melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy; in people with SAD, the body may produce it in higher-than-normal levels. Serotonin is a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep; a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is linked to feelings of depression.


A variety of treatments are available for SAD, and your GP can recommend the most suitable treatment programme for you. The main treatments are lifestyle measures, including getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly and managing your stress levels; Light therapy, where a special lamp called a light box is used to simulate exposure to sunlight; Talking therapies such as counselling or psychotherapy.


Check out the following links for more information:



I hope you too can find a way to enjoy the darker months…


Tracy

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