Let there be light: how to fight the winter slump by getting outside

Let there be light: how to fight the winter slump by getting outside

Getting out into the great outdoors is sometimes easier said than done. Especially as the winter months draw in and the days get shorter, it can be hard to find the time – or even the inclination – to get outside.

 
One change we’re all faced with is the practice of moving clocks backwards or forwards during autumn or spring. This change happens twice a year and can affect people in different ways, depending on their health, sleeping habits and lifestyle.

Moving our clocks in either direction changes our principal time cue – light – which in turn changes and resets our natural body clocks, or circadian rhythm. Doing so affects our internal body clocks, making it out of sync with our existing day and night cycles. Now we know what to blame for that mid-afternoon slump!

One key way to adapt to these changes, and help reset our internal body clocks, is to spend more time in light. We don’t mean sitting by a lamp – instead, head outside to bathe in natural sunlight. Exposing yourself to light as much as possible during waking hours suppresses the secretion of melatonin, the substance our bodies releases to make us sleepy. This helps us get into a more natural waking routine and avoid feeling too tired during the darker evenings.

Heading out into the great outdoors offers a whole host of benefits to our mind and bodies. Here are our top tips for making the most of natural sunlight this autumn:

  • Get motivated by planning your route! Our blog post on our top picks for walks in Hampshire this autumn is bound to drive you to head out the door.
  • Find new ways to enjoy nature; take a moment to breathe… what can you see, hear and smell?
  • Be confident knowing your local Rights of Way routes using our interactive map.
  • Remind yourself how beneficial it is to your health. When changing from your cosy slippers into walking boots and heading out into the cold, it can be hard to remember how great you’ll feel afterwards – but your body will thank you for it!
  • If you’re struggling to find the time, why not commit to the same time every day to make getting daily outdoor exercise more of a routine? If you’re currently working from home, ask your employer if there could be some flexibility in your working pattern – some of our team are trialling taking longer lunchbreaks to make the most of autumn’s midday light and then working a little later. You then get the benefit of daylight for exercise, and cosy evenings to unwind.

 

Don’t forget to be sensible and responsible when using countryside spaces and local rights of way, by planning ahead and consulting the Government website to understand the COVID restrictions that apply, and following the Countryside code.

So, next time you’re feeling the effects of your body’s internal clock battling with the clocks shifting, try donning your walking shoes and heading out the door to explore. Failing that, the kettle will always be there when you get back!

How do you enjoy the outdoors? Share any photos you take with us @HampshireCountryside. And let us know any other beauty spots you find this autumn on our Hampshire Countryside Facebook page.