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  • Writer's pictureSue Bulmer

Seasonal descent

I’ve been wanting to write a new blog post for a while but I’ve noticed a dip in my energy, mood and motivation as daylight saving kicks in in the UK, the seasons changes and we descend into Autumn and Winter once again. I haven’t really known what it was I wanted to say. Everything I said in my blog post back in November 2021 (A time for thoughtful introspection – if you want to check it out) when I started to talk about Seasonal Alignment still holds true and I feel this would be a relevant blog post to have written today.

Even though I am two years into my journey of living more seasonally aligned I still feel like I’m feeling my way into it, being aware of the need to hibernate when it gets to this time of year but also balancing that with the fact that I still have to go to work so hibernation feels impossible. I battle with the to-do list full of ideas, commitments and projects, knowing how it feels to complete a task and the little rewarding hit of dopamine I get as I tick it off the list. My head wants to keep going but my body and soul are crying out for a rest. It's a conflicting and confusing feeling at times.

I also talk about this in my blog post of the same month which I named ‘The power of switching off’ where I talked about creative dips, taking time away from creating and reflecting on what has passed. So even just going back over my blog diary I can see clearly that when this time of year comes around again a lot of the same cyclical themes reappear.

I’ve even been talking about it on my Instagram account as I noticed my own energy levels plummet when we lost an hour of daylight last weekend and the clocks switched from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time and the fallout of that on my own feelings of well-being during the week that followed. The cosy extra hour we gained in bed was soon swallowed up into my natural circadian rhythm and getting out of bed didn’t really seem any easier. I asked people whether they noticed a change in their own energy levels and the answer was a resounding ‘yes’ with those noticing it the most being in northern hemisphere. That totally figures. We are tilting away from the sun and light levels are reducing, the temperature is dropping and this has a whole host of effects on the human brain and body. Lower levels of light can lead to drop in feel-good hormones such as serotonin and this can result in us feeling lower in mood, energy and motivation. So it’s totally natural we are going to notice this.

In past years I have tried to resist this seasonal urge to rest and push on through the feelings, determined to beat the winter blues and power on through until spring. This inevitably leads to burnout, something I want to avoid if I can. So this year, I'm practising what I preach and instead I’m taking a gentler approach, thinking about the things I can do to help sustain me through these winter months.

As someone who has a self-diagnosed tendency towards Seasonal Affective Disorder in past winters, I know a few things I will be trying to do to help me avoid any winter blues and maintain my positive (most of the time) outlook on life this winter.

Wild swimming has been something that has been a really important part of my own 'feel better' routine this year. I've only been doing it since last October and we managed to swim into mid-November when we managed our first (and last) under-10C swim. This year we are prepared to continue swimming into the winter months as long as we can, all prepped up with the right gear, with neoprene boots, gloves, kneeskin and my long sleeved swim top. I'm hoping we can still get to dip, even though we can't safely stay in the water as long. Exercise, again something I took up on a regular basis last October, will also be there on my list, to help keep the feel good endorphins. Taking time off the socials is also another thing I will be doing and my plans are for reduced posting frequency through November with none in December. I did this last year and I really enjoyed taking the pressure off and spending my time doing other things.

I would love to hear from you and your experiences of the descent into the colder, darker half of the year. How do you sustain yourself, you mood, motivation, energy and creativity? What kind of things do you do to lean into winter? Or are you fighting the change and dreading the unavoidable shortening days? Please leave me a comment and let me know what works for you.

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28. 11. 2023

I completely agree with all the above Sue, although I will have to continue with social media as I'm not as far along my creative journey as you. I have also taken up lake swimming recently (all be it with a wet suit, gloves and swim socks! :-D ) It's amazing how good I feel after each swim.

I see that I am the first to comment here, but also wanted to thank you for the Guide to sustaining creativity through Winter and Autumn..I'll mention it on Insta later ;-)

Enjoy a restful December. Karen

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Sue Bulmer
Sue Bulmer
(11. 2.)
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are you still swimming? I went today and loved it :-)

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