Get your mental health in tip top shape for cooler months and shorter days.
Well that summer went by in a flash didn’t it!? And we won’t complain about it for an instant, the greater freedoms have been welcomed and most of us in the UK have basked in a beautifully sunny September.
As time gallops on into October it’s time to embrace the inevitable and get Autumn ready. Accountants included.
But aside from pulling out the woolly jumpers and getting our crumbles in the oven what more can accountants do to lessen the impact on their wellbeing of the cooler months and shorter days that lie ahead?
Let’s take a minute to learn about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
The NHS describes SAD as ‘a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern.’ They note that it’s more common and the effects are more severe as we transition from warmer to colder months as opposed to the other way around.
Symptoms of SAD include:
- a persistent low mood
- a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
- feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- feeling lethargic and sleepy during the day
- sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
- craving stodgy and carbohydrate heavy food thagt can lead to weight gain.
As a busy accountant, these symptoms can negatively impact your performance at work and your ability to enjoy the rewards and successes that you’ve worked hard for and deserve.
As with most conditions that impact our wellbeing, the focus should be on prevention rather than cure. And this is the perfect time to make some small steps to prioritising your wellbeing to reduce the likelihood of experiencing symptoms of SAD. Think ahead and allow your health to be your priority and your family, friends, employers and colleagues will all benefit as well as you.
Here’s our top ten tips for keeping the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder in check and having a brilliant autumn and winter as a successful accountant.
1. Embrace the changes and get excited for them!
We challenge all of you not to find one element of the upcoming change to the seasons to get excited about. Maybe it’s the thought of cosy jumpers and woolly socks, maybe you’re a sucker for a spiced pumpkin latte or maybe long wintry walks make you feel alive. Whatever it is that you know you enjoy about autumn and winter, hold it forefront of your thoughts about the seasons ahead, embrace it and prioritise lots of opportunities to ensure you experience lots of it.
2. Get in the habit of being spontaneously grateful.
Forget forced gratitide where you sit down with a journal and make a list of all the things that you’re grateful for that day. Get busy with the messy but wonderful process of living and when you notice a moment or an experience that is truly magical (perhaps you get a huge payrise or perhaps you just notice that leaves have fallen in a particularly stunning way) allow yourself to experience that joy to the MAX! And remember that we wouldn’t know what joy is if we didn’t experience its opposite number from time to time. So when something not so great happens in your life, remind yourself that it’s just another reason to seize the joyful moments when they come.
3. Less giving, more living.
Take a look at your boundaries, both personal and professional and consider whether you want to spend the next two seasons people pleasing or priorisiting the needs of those who really matter, at work and at home.
4. Get moving.
There’s plenty of research that proves that exercise is beneficial for not just your physical health, but your mental health too. But it’s normal to feel a little sluggish in the cooler months and find it harder to get motivated. So why not reframe the requirement to ‘exercise’ and push yourself to just move more. It really doesn’t matter what the movement is, so put less pressure on yourself to make use of a gym membership that might mean you have to drive in the cold and dark before or after work and do a home workout, or go for a brisk walk on your lunchbreak or just pick up some tins of baked beans and lift them.
5. Routine brings rewards.
The autumn and winter are times when you really need to stick to a good routine wherever you can. Try and limit your screen use before bed, lights out at a reasonable time and work on getting good sleeps as often as possible. It can be really hard to get up when the mornings are darker but not allowing yourself to hit the snooze button and praticing good morning habits will help you make the most of your shorter days.
6. Nourish yourself.
It’s easy to pile on the extra pounds in the cooler months as you find comfort in hot drinks and maybe an extra glass of wine here and there, not to mention Halloween sweets and Christmas chocolates! But do what you can to enjoy the excesses of the seasons in moderation. And if you love to cook, these are the seasons to make the most of that with healthy soups and nutritious slow cooked meals.
7. Don’t rely on caffeine to see you through.
One tiny change to your daily routine can really add up and make a huge difference to the way you feel. And just having one extra caffeinated drink a day can make you feel more jittery and anxious and impact your sleep. So why not swap that one small change with another; don’t have a caffeinated drink before you’ve eaten in the morning. We know, sounds crazy doesn’t it? But research from the Centre for Nutrition, Exercise & Metabolism at the University of Bath (UK) has shown that caffeinating before you eat could impair your control of your metabolism and your blood sugar levels.
8. Use the longer and darker evenings for a bit of self development and reflection.
There’s so many resources available online now to support accountants to increase their breadth of transferable skills, qualifications and motivation and attitude at work. So put your longer evenings to use by working on yourself. Perhaps you might be guilty of having self sabotaged your career and could put a stop to these negative practices, or perhaps you might like to learn a new skill that could really benefit your CV in a way you’d not considered before.
9. Take on a new project at home or at work.
Maybe taking on a project that you feel passionate about might be just the distraction you need to get you through months that you don’t love. Perhaps you could volunteer to lead a project on sustainability in your workplace or take on the organisation of a brilliant Christmas party. If you feel you have too much time on your hands and are feeling the effects of not getting out and about in the evenings, a project can be a great focus.
10. Kickstart your career.
If a looming feeling of not being in the right role is contributing to a heightened sense of anxiety or doom and gloom this autumn/winter, why not use the time to propel yourself into an incredible new opportunity as an accountant. With our help you could be getting to grips with a new job and enjoying a significantly enhanced reward as early as next month! We’re always keen to hear about talent like yours so upload your CV today!
Hopefully we’ve helped you gain a positive perspective about the seasonal changes that lie ahead. If you’ve enjoyed this wellbeing focused article why not take a look at some of the others from our huge library of resources.