TAMARA TALKS: How to avoid the seasonal blues

It's normal to be affected by the change in seasons
It's normal to be affected by the change in seasons
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At the same time autumn comes around each year, I start thinking about new beginnings and shifting my mindset.

You have your fun over the summer but as the days get shorter, darker and colder, it’s a good time to knuckle down and think about the things you want or need to accomplish.

I prefer to think about new beginnings at this time of year because lots of us are currently looking forward to what the new season has to bring, as opposed to doing it in January when many are mourning the passing of the festivities.

The only problem with getting things done over the winter is that our motivation can fall along with the amount of daylight we get. It’s normal to be affected by the change in seasons and many suffer from or develop SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – or see their depression get worse. But there are things that can be done to either stop this from happening, or help it if it does.

Mental health charity MIND suggests that you: make the most of the natural light; avoid stress; build a support network; exercise and eat well; visit somewhere with more light, and consider using a light box. These tips are useful, but for some, it’s easier said than done.

When someone undergoes CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (used to treat anxiety and depression, but it also helps get rid of negative thought patterns), one of the things they are often told to do is balance out their day with pleasurable, necessary, and routine activities. For example, you could buy and read a magazine (pleasurable), update your CV or start writing a cover letter (necessary) and do some ironing (routine).

A healthy, happy mix of the three done daily can improve your mood and in turn motivation levels and it’s a technique I think would be useful for those who start to feel low in the winter. The key is to plan ahead for the next day and think about anything that might get in your way when you carry out the tasks. But at the same time, you also have to be flexible, because sticking rigidly to plans can often be unhelpful.

For those of you who are wondering how you’ll fit all three types of activities into your day, the enjoyable ones can be something as simple as cooking a favourite meal, having a conversation with a friend or having a relaxing bath.

Breaking down tasks (if something seems too overwhelming, divide it into chunks), and working towards short, medium and long term goals are also advised for effective planning. I know these techniques help me and I hope they can help you too.

– Twenty-three-year-old Tamara Siddiqui is a journalist at The News. Read her views on life as a modern woman in an ever-changing world every Tuesday, online or in the newspaper.