Does anybody really know what time it is?
This Sunday (November 3, 2019) at 2 a.m., we say goodbye to Daylight Savings Time and hello to shorter days, colder weather, and — for some — sluggish bodies and minds.
I’m not exactly sure why we still do this (and shout out to most of Arizona for avoiding it); I’ve read it began as a way to make the most of natural light and conserve energy. Twice a year, the United States and much of the rest of the world “falls back” or “springs forward,” effectively gaining or losing an hour until we sort ourselves out. These time changes can throw us out of whack for a few days or so, and for many people it’s the end of Daylight Savings Time — when we set our clocks back an hour — that causes the most problems, probably because this is the time change that ushers us into the colder, damper, darker fall and winter months.
When we “fall back” a lot of people:
- Experience sleep problems, whether it’s because they’re sleeping more or sleeping less.
- Struggle with seasonal depression or at the least, feel funky more often than genuinely happy.
- Have body aches and pains they didn’t have during the warmer months or parts of the year when they were more physically active.
- Become more susceptible to illnesses like the flu and common cold due to weakened immune systems.
- Overeat and/or eat unhealthy foods and/or both (raises hand), which — along with sleep problems and less physical activity — can lead to weight gain and other associated health problems.
- Perform poorly at school or work.
- Become lethargic because they aren’t getting enough mental and physical stimulation.
We can combat and even prevent some of these with a few tips for coping with the time change and adjusting to the change in weather.
1. Maintain Your Sleep Schedule.
Come Sunday morning, 6 a.m. will feel like 7 a.m. and probably will continue to feel like that for a week or so. As tempting as it might be to get out of bed at what your body is telling you is the regular time, stay put and try to sleep for that extra hour. Not only will it feel like a treat, but also it will help your body adjust to the time and maintain your sleep schedule.
2. Eat Seasonal Fruits & Vegetables.
Because they are purchased and consumed soon after they’re harvested, seasonal fruits and vegetables are fresher, more nutritious, and better for both you and your community (if you shop with local farmers).
Additionally, you can take advantage of the vitamins and other nutrients in seasonal fruits and vegetables. For example, kale is packed with flavonoid antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol that have powerful anti-inflammatory effects which can help with those body aches and pains the cooler weather often brings. Certain mushrooms help supplement your daily dose of Vitamin D, something that’s tougher to get when the days become shorter. Not only does Vitamin D support your bones, muscles, and nerves, but also it helps boost your immune system.
The USDA SNAP-Ed Connections provides general lists of in-season fruits and vegetables and recipes, and you can refer to the Seasonal Food Guide for seasonal produce currently available in your state.
3. Keep Exercising!
Shorter days and colder weather make it so tempting to let your exercise routine fall to the wayside, but save the cozy blanket, hot cocoa, and book until after your workout.
Regular exercise will help you sleep better, get relief from aching joints and muscles, and maintain the level of mental and physical fitness that keeps you exercising in the warmer months.
You might need to make some adjustments — like moving some exercises indoors. Consider joining a gym for safe indoor exercises and a chance to still get out of the house.
4. Get Outside When Possible.
When possible, take a leisurely walk at lunch. It’s in the middle of the day, so there’ll be light (and maybe even some sun!). Breathe in the fresh air, listen to your surroundings, and remember you’ll soon have spring and summer again. Try to appreciate the fall and winter for what they have to offer.
5. Embrace Indoor Activities.
I’m not referring to indoor workouts here; rather, things you can do indoors that a warm sunny day might otherwise distract you from.
- Picking up on or starting a new hobby. You can even do this as a family; for example, Make Your Own Pizza Night or Movie Night or Game Night!
- Tackling a home improvement or organization project.
- Beginning or joining a book club. (See below.)
During the winter months especially, it’s easier to just snuggle up and watch the snow fall than it is to make and actually keep plans with others; thus, it’s also easy to let our friendships go stale.
Socializing is great for your mood and overall mental health, so make an effort with your friends.
- Hosting at-home activities like a book club, game night, or wine and cheese night.
- Meeting everyone for a night of bowling, skating, or hitting up an adult arcade.
- Schedule play dates with your friends who have children. You could bring the kids to the movies or organize an arts and crafts hour.
Talk to me! How does the end of Daylight Savings Time affect your mental and physical well-being? What are some things you do to keep yourself healthy?