happiness healthy living

Maintaining your balance when the days get shorter (and darker)

days getting shorter, days get darker sooner, fall, blah, winter, sad, seasonal affective disorder, how to cope, how to deal, tips

It’s started happening. When I get out of work at 5:00, the sky is starting to get a little dark. Pretty soon, we’ll be setting our clocks back and it will be pitch black when I walk out of my office.

Being an outdoorsy, sun-loving person, I never like the transition into shorter, darker days because it really drains my energy. I love taking Big Dog and Little Dog for a walk before dinner, but it’s so much nicer in the summer when the neighborhood is still buzzing and awake instead of feeling like it’s already nighttime. I always get kind of sleepy and blah during this time of the year, and it takes my body (and spirit) a while to adjust.

So I thought I’d share with you the things I do to try to keep myself as much in balance as I can during this transition. I know a lot of people who go through the same sort of “fall blahs,” and I’m guessing a lot of you do, too.

How to get through the fall blahs

Get enough (but not too much!) sleep. Try to get as close to 8 hours a night as you can to keep your energy from slipping any more than it already is. Go to bed and wake up at the same time so your body stays on track. But, don’t get too much sleep. Even if the gray skies and early nights make you feel drowsy, indulging in too many naps will just make you feel spacey and will throw off your nighttime sleep.

A quick power nap to reset your energy is fine (and something I highly recommend). But anything beyond that can just leave you feeling even worse when you wake up.

Exercise regularly. You know I’m a huge believer in exercise being one of the best mood boosters. Regular exercise is a great way to boost your energy, get those happy endorphins going, and keep yourself feel more awake and alert when you start to droop. Choose something that works for you, and keep to a regular schedule, even (or especially!) on the days you’re feeling blah.

Eat well. I have to admit, when the weather starts getting colder and it’s the season to start cuddling up on the couch under cozy blankets, I tend to crave “comfort foods” more than I do during the spring and summer. (Big bowls of mac and cheese are my especial weakness.) But eating lots of heavy, carb-filled or fatty foods just leaves me feeling even more drowsy and yucky than I did before. So I try to stick to my usual healthy breakfast (granola, fruit, etc.) and lunch (salads, wraps, etc.), and throw in a little treat with dinner to fight the fall blahs. A side of mac and cheese, for instance, is much better than eating an entire huge bowl of it.

Get outside when you can. It’s a scientific fact that getting some sun can make us feel better. That’s why people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder are often told to try things like solar lamps to boost their mood during the winter. You might not have symptoms as serious as SAD, but getting out in nature while the sun’s still out can still help keep your spirits up as the days get shorter.

I like to try to take walks during my lunch break in the fall. (It’s a great chance to enjoy all the leaves changing!) On the weekends, The Hubby and I do as much outdoor stuff (biking, walking the Dogs, etc.) as we can during the afternoon so we can take advantage of the daylight hours. Little things like making sure to keep all the blinds open during the day and keeping rooms well-lit at night can also help.

Do you get the fall blahs? How do you fight them?





photo credit: Rachel K


  • I have had a window seat at work for the last 4 years, but just transferred and now sit pretty far away from any daylight. It has made a huge difference! If you can sit closer to a window, do so!

    • Agreed! Just being able to see the outdoors when you’re stuck inside can be a huge help.

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve lost your window seat! Can you do anything to make up for it? Hang up some photos of relaxing, warm places or get a nice, bright desk lamp?

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