Sometimes, it can be hard to fight the autumn blahs. Grey weather can lead to dark mood. When melancholy beckons, here are a few things I try to ward it off, or at least make things more bearable.
Packed with healthy oats and not-so-healthy butter and sugar, these are comforting, particularly warm from the oven and still crumbly. I use 125g of butter and sugar to 250g oats, plus a few spoonfuls of honey or syrup and any nuts/vanilla essence/old bits of cereal left at the bottom of packets.
Melt together butter, sugar and syrup/honey then add oats and other dry ingredients, pour into a silicone tray and pat down. Cook for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into slices when warm. Leave to cool and store in a tin. Munch when feeling hangry or low. Sadness can sometimes be hunger in disguise.
These are also handy if you’re stuck in bed and too tired to cook, but need an energy boost. Use less sugar to make them healthier. Add dried fruit, marmalade, nuts or grated apple if you want.
An anxious mind needs distraction. Podcasts can help. I love RHLSTP and Adam Buxton’s show for interviews with comedians (and beyond), Jon Ronson for poignant investigation, and my new guilty pleasure is Double Love: a witty homage to Sweet Valley High (I read them as a young teen and nostalgia is high).
I’m now stockpiling Victorian podcasts to listen to. I’m also very excited by the imminent Festival of the Spoken Nerd podcast. I’m currently looking out for nature, science, writing and arts podcasts: I’ll post about any good new ones I discover.
There are loads of classics on YouTube, though I dream of an Audible.com subscription. When brain power is low and concentration is hard, audio books can offer a welcome respite from your own thoughts.
Old Harry’s Game is a favourite that bears many repeat listens. Brian Gulliver’s Travels is also brilliant no matter how many times I’ve listened to it. If you prefer books to radio shows, Neil Gaiman’s voice is soothing and he has many short stories if your attention span is limited.
Sometimes only sleep will do. Listen to your body. Give yourself a break. Add a hot water bottle or wheat pillow for cosiness. Keep blankets nearby in case you get cold. Enjoy it rather than feeling guilty.
Do gentle crafting or read a book (not your phone) in bed if insomnia strikes. Knitting can be relaxing and help still the mind. Calm make Sleep Stories to drift off to as well.
A happy song playlist can help battle negative mood. Don’t pick songs with memories attached unless they make you happy.
From fairy lights to a light box, adding light can enhance mood: a good excuse to get the Christmas lights out. Vitamin D supplements may help too – as will getting outdoors in daylight if you are able.
I find greenery boosts mood (and some research supports this theory). Houseplants, fresh herbs and flowers all bring the outdoors in which helps brighten my mood, or at least stop it slumping.
Outdoors, look for dandelions. They bloom throughout autumn and add colour to the day. Use pine branches, holly, mistletoe and other seasonal greenery for festive displays. Find the colour. It’s still there if you look carefully.
A Hot Bath
Another guilty pleasure, hot baths become all the more blissful in cold weather. I add Epsom salts when I’m particularly achy, along with aromatherapy oils. Peppermint wakes me up, neroli relaxes me, rosemary and cedarwood soothe and refresh and lavender is a good all-rounder.
Turn a grey afternoon in into a home spa – it’s easy enough to make your own toiletries if you are on tight budget. It might not shift your mood but it could help distract you, at the very least.