Spring forward, fall back. The way most of us remember which way the clocks go when they change from British Summer Time to GMT and back again. The very concept of time ‘falling back’ can feel negative, and for many the idea of several months of gloomy afternoons and short days can be depressing, and only marginally improved by slightly lighter mornings.
Why the clock change?
Contrary to popular belief, the clock change wasn’t about giving farmers more light on winter mornings – rather, British Summer Time was first established by the Summer Time Act in 1916, after a campaign by a builder called William Willett. He was reportedly irritated with the “waste” of daylight in the early mornings of summer, and when the Act became law it enabled making better use of lighter evenings – hence the term ‘daylight saving’. In the UK, British Summer Time (BST) ends at 2am on the last Sunday of October, and heralds a period many people tolerate at best.
Seize new opportunities
But it need not be all doom and gloom. Just as in our previous article on the end of the summer, in NLP terms, it’s all about how we position things to ourselves, and when we view the season in a positive way, we are far more likely to enjoy it and make the most of it. Here are my top five strategies for seeing your way through the winter months:
- Look forward to the winter milestones – be it the fun of Halloween, fireworks in November, the message of Christmas with all the lights and decorations that accompany it, and then only a couple of weeks later the days get lighter again!
- Set yourself a target – and do some exercise. It can feel a lot harder to get out and about when it’s cold and dark, so join a gym (it will combat the extra Christmas pounds!), or start a new course, and devise a plan to make sure you stick to it. One of my clients has set herself the target of knocking ten minutes off last year’s triathlon time, with a training schedule to see her through the winter before triathlons start up again in spring. Exercise in particular will release endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, which combine to lift both mood and energy.
- Get out in the sunshine – really make the most of cold, bright, fresh days when you can, and get some sun when it shines. We need vitamin D, which we get from the sun, to help the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet. These minerals are important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.
- Book a holiday – it’s fantastic to have something warm and bright to look forward to!
- Use a UV lamp/light box if affected by Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD). If you experience SAD, you may need some extra UV light to see you through, and some people find a light box which simulates natural sunlight, helpful. Symptoms of SAD include low mood, lethargy and a sense of despair, causing those affected to find it hard to get up and feel motivated in the depth of winter, as well as craving carbohydrates and putting on weight. The causes of SAD are not entirely clear but the theory is that a lack of sunlight affects the efficiency of the hypothalamus, reducing the production of ‘happy hormones’ such as serotonin, while increasing production of melatonin, causing drowsiness . We know from research into the placebo affect that the way we think, powerfully affects our neurophysiology, influencing the production of these hormones. NLP and hypnotherapy can give you the tools to help you to influence your neurophysiology and produce those hormones which boost mood, energy and the immune system.