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Am I Doing This Right?! How to Embrace Fall Back + Shorter, Darker Days

How to Embrace Fall Back + Shorter, Darker Days

Happy Monday!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Kendall here today, with another post in our “Am I Doing This Right?!” series — this time, a very timely topic–how to embrace darker days now that “fall back” is in full swing.

It’s easy to dread the shorter, darker days that come along with falling back, and if that’s you, you’re not alone. According to a 2020 Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine study, the sun setting an hour earlier has been tied to an increase in depression and anxiety, and reduced daylight tends to make people generally less joyful and more apathetic.

That sounds bleak, I know — but the good news is that there are tangible little things you can do to combat these feelings and set yourself up for success throughout the darker, colder months. Read on for tips for beating the Daylight Savings dread:

Am I Doing This Right?! How To Embrace Falling Back + Darker Days

Practice gratitude

This one small change that will snowball into immense benefits. Whether it’s jotting down a few reminders throughout the day, journaling over your morning coffee or simply spending some time being grateful before drifting to sleep, practicing gratitude can go a long way in helping you stay psychologically and physically strong. Research reveals gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression, enhances empathy and better sleep, and improves self-esteem — aka the ideal armor for long, cold winter days! Jess loves this daily gratitude journal to make it super easy to stay consistent in your gratitude practice.

Also, if you haven’t read Jess’ post on her practice of maintaining a positive attitude that she wrote in the heart of the pandemic, there are some really helpful tips in there!

Make your bed right away

It’s a simple task, but it accomplishes so much. Making your bed gives you an instant boost of accomplishment by completing a task, lets your mind and body know it’s time to be productive even though it’s still dark out (especially important if you work from home), and it sets the tone for keeping your home tidy and organized.

Try a cold shower, or end your hot shower with a cold blast

Studies show that cold showers can fight off perpetual sleepiness, boost immunity, fight off depression and won’t dry out your skin and hair! Let’s be honest though, they sound great until you’re already freezing–so try the more palatable alternative and end your warm shower with a cold blast for a minute or two to experience similar benefits!

Up your water intake

I preach drinking water a lot because I truly believe it solves most of my problems. (Haven’t you seen that reel going around? That’s girl is me!) You may not feel like reaching for water as often in colder months, but it’s just as important to do so — it goes a long way in helping you stay positive, motivated and alert! Check out this blog post for tips for drinking more water. For fall and winter, try incorporating more tea into your routine if that sounds more appealing, and be sure to drink water in between alcoholic beverages- especially if you find yourself upping your alcohol intake during long, dark days!

Consider joining a class, club or gym

The pandemic left so many of us starving for human interaction after so many days of isolation–plus, with more people working from home than ever before, many of us still aren’t getting the level of interaction we used to–especially as the days get shorter and we’re not out and about as much as before.

If that sounds like you, consider joining something that will encourage and excite you, and make it easier to make new friends and interact with other people on a regular basis! Not to mention, moving your body in any shape or form will drastically reduce stress and boost endorphins.

Maybe you join a gym or yoga studio for a few months because your typical outside workouts don’t sound appealing right now — or maybe you’ve been meaning to take a class for a hobby/interest and now is the perfect time to schedule something to look forward to on weeknights!

Or, maybe you started a new hobby during the pandemic? Consider looking into in-person classes (if you’re vaccinated and low risk!) to continue to fine-tune your craft and meet new people in the process! (Tip: Facebook groups are also a great way to meet new like-minded people and find organized meet-ups!)

Rehaul your evening routine

When it feels like it’s time to call it a day before the workday is even over, weeknight evenings can really drag on! Take advantage of the extra time and shake up your evening routine. If you’re like, well…everyone else who got into the habit of filling up all your spare time with Netflix during the pandemic–it could be time for a change! I don’t know about you, but when I spend my entire evening watching TV day after day, it leaves me feeling grumpy and drained rather than recharged. (SOME Netflix + chill time is great–but there is such thing as too much of a good thing!)

You too? Try making a list of all the things you like to do that don’t involve watching a screen, and stick it somewhere you can see it to remind you next time you are tempted to turn on the TV.

Maybe that’s reading more books, taking baths sometimes instead of showers, learning a new language, working on a new hobby–etc! The more screen-free time you can log before bed, the better you will feel. Not to mention, the better you will sleep!

Make a fall/winter bucket list

Cold and dark evenings can feel like a monotonous blur sometimes. Help yourself break out of the “hours on the couch” routine every night by putting together a seasonal bucket list! Check out the new art exhibit in town, make a point to see a show, offer to host a girls’ night/book club/wine tasting at your place, make a reservation at a new restaurant, invite a friend over to make pies, etc.! (Tip: If you’re looking for new and interesting things to do, Time Out is a great source!)

Having one or two fun weeknight things to do each week gives you something to look forward to, and doing them with other people will hold you accountable to follow through!

Have a running list of to-dos

On the flip side, you don’t always need to leave the house or be social to have something to look forward to! Take advantage of more time at home and enjoy a cozy setting by ticking to-dos off your list. Have you been meaning to tackle a small home DIY, fill your picture frames with recent pictures, purge your closet, take some online courses? Write down everything you hope to get to “one day” and take your time working through them this season.

Plan something to look forward to

Sometimes the worst part of dark days is the feeling that they will never end! Get ahead of this by planning something to look forward to. If you can swing it, a trip to a warm weather destination (or a couple!) is a surefire cure for the winter blues. Or it could be something smaller and local, like a reunion with old friends you haven’t seen in a while, a trip to someone’s parents’ cabin, finally visiting all those museums you’ve been wanting to go to, or seeing a show (now that Broadway is back!) The act of planning and looking forward to will go so far in helping you power through cold, dark days!

Hope this was helpful! Happy Falling Back!

Other posts you might also like: 

(Am I Doing This Right?!) How to Sleep Better. Really.

My Secret Trick to A More Positive Attitude