“There is no bad weather, only bad clothes”, goes the popular Norwegian saying. That is right – and it is also wrong. I would say, that there is a weather that makes you feel down. While the sunshine makes the body to produce another happy hormone serotonin, the darkness leads to production of melatonin, a hormone that makes us tired and passive, which is necessary at night so we can fall asleep. In autumn there is less light which makes us feel down, sleepy and passive. That’s why it is important to meet the season prepared, with good knowledge of yourself and some strategies.
During those few days I was in Barcelona it was so easy to wake up and feel enthusiasm. Even though it was hard to fall asleep because of the unruly thoughts about the political situation, it was enough to see sun rays through the window and feel the rush of energy. When I was landing in Norway, my eyes were so in love with the colors of autumn, and I joyfully breathed in the cool crispy air. Few rainy days later and I was afraid of S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) creeping on me as it used to do in the past years. Luckily, I had made a list of activities that I was looking forward to this autumn. My list of joy. I feel moved to share its ideas here – maybe, you can borrow some for making your autumn better and brighter. I want to keep myself off the beaten path and leave out the things like warm teas under fluffy blankets. These tips seem to be well known, and I am sure, that we all do them in autumn 🙂
Planning. Recently I had a talk with a friend about my feelings for autumn, and she told how she got helped by the knowledge of Ayurveda. According to it, the season is marked by the energy which is restless and can bring some frustration. The level of energy is lower than in summer, and it spreads itself in different directions, leaving you confused. I notice that I often get frustrated in autumn because I fail to live the life I love due to my lack of energy and enthusiasm. The solution? Scheduling helps. When all your inspiration amounts to get lost under the fluffy blankets until April, binging on chocolate and watching series, it helps to make plans and stick to them.
Create plans not only for things from your to-do list, but also schedule time for fun and for being social. When you have booked a time slot – and made an appointment with a friend, it is easier to stick to your decision. Rather than deciding on the spot and choosing between going out and staying on your couch (I have nothing against time on the couch, but I don’t want to spend all those dark evenings there). I have never been so fond of planning as this October :). I make month plans and week plans which I check against each other, and then I write to-do lists on post-it notes, so that my planner doesn’t get drowned in a lot of detail.
Nature. One of my favorite activities in autumn is to go to nature and capture its fading beauty with my camera. Usually I am not keen on nature photography. But autumn enchants me every time. So on my list of joy the first thing was to go for a photo walk to the botanical garden. There I get lost in time, and hold my breath when taking photos. Nature is so rich in life. And I get richer in contact with it every time. So find your favorite nature spot and go there. Looking for small things – or looking for nothing in particular. Just let the life unfold its beauty before you.
Culture. As the weather sends us inside, it is good to have some options to cafes and shops. I associate autumn with literature since I was a literature student in Ukraine, and was sitting in lecture halls with the yellow leaves falling from the trees behind the windows. This autumn I want to go to the main library and see through the books in Russian and Spanish (which I am learning). I also love to get lost in the book stores and get inspired by all the great books there. Though I read mostly on Kindle, I love paper books, and they make me all dreamy like a child. Joining a literature club (or a book club) is also a good idea. The autumn evenings are perfect for reading and it is fun to share this interest with others.
If you are not into books, there are so many other activities. Maybe, autumn is the time to discover the theatre at last. Or to follow the concert program. Or to join as a volunteer for Oslo World Musical which brings warm music from the south into the humid chilliness of November.
Exercise. This is a well-known remedy against S.A.D., and I think it deserves more attention in autumn than coziness of teas and blankets and fireplaces. It is popular to hit the gym in January. But to me, the best time to do that is September. Summer tends to mess up my training routine, with its long walks, picnics and spontaneous ice-cream eating. But September is the time to get back some structure into my sweating. It is good when you develop a habit, and then you have something to stick to, even if your mood pulls you more towards cuddling with your tea cup than to your sneakers. And if you are not a gym person, just spend some time outside. Get the day light and fresh air. They are so important to your wellbeing. Walk energetically with the music in your headphones, and even the grayest and saddest day will feel fresh and your body will feel more alive.
DIY. I got inspired by the Desigual shop in Barcelona and I want to make something in their style. It is not difficult, if I work with a ready piece and just decorate it. And I thought, it is a great way to spend time inside. Spend it in a creative way. Make something with your hands. If your creative energy is stuck, I strongly recommend “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. It is a 12-weeks course that helps you to discover your inner artist. This book has been a life-changer for me, it is one of the best things that has happened to me lately. This autumn I reread it and find it as fresh and inspiring as that first time, two years ago.
Learn something new. Autumn is the back-to-school season. And it feels easier to spend time inside learning than in summer when you feel pulled by all the nice activities outside. I am a huge fan of learning. I guess, learning is my most favorite thing to do. This semester I am taking the Spanish course. And as I think of all possible courses, I tremble with excitement. Cooking, tango, photography, writing… Learning is so good for the brain, it keeps it young and flexible. It is good for the soul, as it is fun to learn together with others, and new social connections make you happy.
Be social. That seems so obvious. But really in autumn it is more difficult to keep up the social life, because the pull is stronger to passive rest that to organizing meetings (at least, it is for me). I need to remind myself that the darker time is easier to bear when spent together. It is a good reason to get outside on a rainy day when you have someone waiting for you for the cup of coffee or a walk. An afternoon spent with a friend makes one much happier than time spent alone with your favorite series. And in autumn you need these good feelings and good hormones like never before.
Kind of conclusion. I have discovered that I often use money to buy myself emotions and happy moments, doing shopping or mindless spending. This autumn I want to focus on creating experiences instead. They may cost me something, while others are free like libraries and walks. I want to put shopping on pause and look for other ways to make me happy and create good moments and emotions that make our life worth living.
Let me know which ideas you are using yourself. Do you have activities that you are looking forward to this autumn?