As summer draws to a close and autumn begins, this is a time when some might start to feel a little low. Although it’s a proven fact that summer sunshine and activities have multiple health benefits, now it’s time to consider how to mentally reset after the holiday season is over.
Regardless of whether you’ve taken a holiday away from home, most people will have felt the benefits of summer on their mental and physical health.
Health benefits in summer
Just being outside in the sun boosts the body’s vitamin D level and can improve our mood, leading to better mental health. Spending time in the sun is also known to produce more melatonin (the sleep hormone) in the body, so you enjoy a more fulfilling night’s slumber and awake feeling more refreshed and energised.
Traditional summer outdoor activities such as exploring new places or taking holidays lift our spirits, not to mention keeping us fit if we’re taking part in more healthy physical pursuits. We also tend to socialise more in the summer months. Being with friends and family and making good memories lifts everyone’s spirits.
What is SAD?
For people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), summer is definitely a time to “recharge their batteries”. The recognised medical condition is nicknamed “winter depression” because sufferers have a persistent low mood, lose interest in normal everyday activities and feel irritable and lethargic during the colder months.
SAD can make it hard to get up in the morning, let alone feel motivated to do anything. In severe cases, people experience feelings of despair and worthlessness, and they may crave carbohydrates and as a result gain weight.
The NHS says SAD is linked to reduced exposure to the sun during the shorter days of autumn and winter. It often strikes as soon as the clocks go back in the autumn, when subsequently dusk falls earlier. As many as one in three people in the UK could have SAD at some level, although many have never been diagnosed.
There are various medical treatments for SAD, such as light therapy using a light box that simulates sunlight or taking a course of antidepressant medication. However, another treatment recommended by professionals is making lifestyle changes including getting natural sunlight when possible, taking regular exercise and trying to manage stress levels.
How do you mentally reset after summer?
If you’ve started to feel down as summer draws to a close, whether you’ve been diagnosed with SAD or not, it’s important to deal with these feelings now, before they get a grip on your emotions.
The key is to mentally reset after summer, so you can get back into work mode without losing all the benefits summer has provided such as vitamin D, happiness, relaxation and exercise. People have various ways of coping with the post-summer blues, and this can be very much down to the individual.
For those working from home, sitting outdoors with your laptop on milder, sunny days can help, so you soak up as much sun and vitamin D as possible. A good way to start the day is to sit in the sunshine when you can, even if you’re indoors looking out of the window.
Always leave time to enjoy a healthy breakfast before going to work. While this can help you to relax and recharge, it can also enable you to think calmly about the day ahead and what you aim to achieve.
How can coworking spaces help?
If you’re lucky enough to be based in a coworking space, this can help you to get back into a routine that you’re comfortable with. By design, coworking spaces are vibrant, collaborative workspaces, where a sense of community is fostered.
Rather than returning to an individual workstation in a quiet corner of the corporate office, you’re working from a friendly, buzzing workspace, where the general atmosphere can lift your spirits from the outset.
In addition, you can take advantage of the different spaces available to you to change posture and environment, which is good for mental and physical stimulation. If you’re reviewing a paper document, or reading a physical journal, go outdoors if the weather is mild and dry. Even if you manage only 15 minutes outside, this will still boost your vitamin D and serotonin level.
While this may be inappropriate in a traditional office, the flexibility of a coworking space means you can choose where and when you wish to carry out particular tasks. If you need a little space for a quiet moment, there’s always a private room where you can complete the necessary work. Alternatively, the sense of community that coworking encourages means you can always sit in a communal area with fellow workers to bounce ideas of each other and reduce those feelings of lethargy.
The other great thing about coworking is that you can work hours to suit your needs. If you’re having a bad day, when the ideas don’t seem to be flowing smoothly, take an early finish to recharge your energy levels and try again, feeling refreshed, the following day.
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