The impact of shorter days on mental health
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying that as the days get shorter I feel time slipping through my fingertips – so much so that the days seem to fly past and before I know it we’re counting down to Christmas day!
Shorter days often leave me feeling demotivated, and when I leave the office at 6pm in the pitch black the only thing I want to do is crawl into bed, pull the covers up high and hibernate.
This lack of motivation can have a huge impact on my mental health, and I’ll often find my mood sinking as the days get colder, and greyer. So, to combat that (and keep myself feeling as upbeat as possible during winter) I’ve been making more of an effort to get the most out of the darker winter evenings.
Now, I’m not talking about racing all over town for cocktail hours and events – I’m talking about partaking in more activities that put me in a positive mood and get those endorphins flowing.
Evening workouts – HIIT and Pilates
There’s no denying that a good workout not only leaves me sweaty, but feeling energised and motivated. While I do like to work out in the mornings, I’ve found that when it gets darker earlier a good way to spend my winter evenings is working out. It eats into hours that would usually be spent vegetating on the sofa and tires me out before bed so I sleep better (and deeper).
If I’m in the mood for something more intense I’ll go for a 30 minute cardio HIIT workout. If I want to be a bit more gentle Pilates is always a good shout. I tend to use YouTube to find my workouts and FitnessBlender have some great ones.
Bathing and reading
If I’m not in the mood for a workout, I’ll often run myself a bath to help me relax before heading to bed. I find bathing is the perfect way to de-stress and it kind of forces me to relax and wind down after a busy day.
When it’s cold (and often rainy in the UK) outside, dipping into a hot bath is really comforting and I always feel better after one. I love using bath bombs (mainly because they’re extra AF) but if I don’t have one to hand, I’ll just go in with some bubble bath.
If (like me) you like to keep your mind busy, listening to a podcast can be a good way to entertain yourself while you soak. I personally love listening to true crime podcasts, and my recommendations would be Sword and Scale, Dr Death, Serial, My Favourite Murder and Last Podcast On The Left.
I’m making more of an effort to delve into my stash of books this winter, and again I find spending some time reading (instead of just scrolling through Instagram or binge watching Netflix) really helps me to unwind after a day at my desk.
When it comes to reading picks for winter evenings, I tend to lean towards more mysterious, thrilling novels. There’s something kind of magical about reading something gripping with a few candles lit when it’s dark outside.
My novel recommendations for this time of year include: The Stranger Diaries (I’m so close to finishing this one and it’s been great!), Friend Request and Caraval.
So, that’s what I’ve been doing to make the most of darker winter evenings. I hope you’ve found reading how I like to spend mine useful! How do you spend your evenings when the days are shorter?