General Wellness

Ways to Brighten Your Spirits as the Days Get Darker

The darker afternoons and evenings that mark the end of Daylight Saving Time are swiftly approaching. If you struggle with shorter days during a typical year, the wild ride of 2020 might be even more challenging. With that in mind, this might be the perfect time to stock up on bright ideas for making this winter bearable and perhaps even enjoyable.

Following are some options for boosting your spirits as we head into the darker days of fall:

  • Embrace the great outdoors like never before. Backyard bonfires, long walks and hikes, hot chocolate parties and outdoor dining can all give you a burst of fresh air and energy. Find your warmest blankets, your bravest friends and your wildest imagination as you plan and even embrace outdoor events this year. Minnesotans have a reputation for being hardy souls for a reason!
  • Find something funny to laugh at. Watch some “Seinfeld” reruns or try a laughter yoga class. Read kids’ funny one-liners or watch one of the new comedy specials coming out. Laughter is good for the soul and can help pull you out of your doldrums.
  • Keep moving. “So many of us have been biking and walking and soaking up the sunshine the past six months and that doesn’t need to change!” said Dr. Jewelia Wagner. “Outdoor exercise simply requires a few more layers and there are lots of great indoor options as well, from livestreamed fitness classes to dancing in your living room. Movement is great for your physical, mental and emotional health and for keeping your spirts up!”
  • Find the light. Light therapy, in the form of a light box, can help those who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Typically, 20-60 minutes of light exposure a day is recommended.
  • Supplement with vitamin D. If you’re not already taking a vitamin D supplement, look for an option that delivers between 2,000-4,000 IUs per day. Vitamin D is crucial for a healthy immune system and may help with anxiety, depression and seasonal affective disorder.
  • Find creative opportunities for social connection. If you are weary of Zoom happy hours, try a Zoom cooking class with friends instead or take a cross-country skiing class with a small group or host backyard weekly neighborhood get-togethers. Simply put, isolation is not good for your mental health, so make sure you find ways to stay connected, even when it requires a little ingenuity and your favorite mask.

“While it may sound dull, sticking to a routine this year can help you adjust to the time change and maintain your overall sense of wellness and balance,” said Dr. Wagner. “If you find that you are struggling with anxiety and depression that persist past the time change, make sure you seek help and support.”

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