How to Keep Daylight Savings Time From Ruining Your Life

daylight savings time in fall

If you're already groaning about turning your clock back this fall, you're onto something. A new study shows a connection between daylight savings time and depression.

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And it's not the day of when you're most at risk. Researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark found that the number of depression diagnoses increases 8 percent during the month AFTER we change our clocks.

Their theory as to why has to do with daylight. (No surprise.)

Although we "gain" an hour, it's in the morning, when we're typically at the breakfast table or in the car commuting to work rather than outside, soaking up the sunshine. By the time our opportunity for a free moment rolls around late afternoon, it's already pitch-black outside.

And we all know how that feels ... which is the other explanation researchers have. In short, those chilly dark days psych us out.

So until someone invents sunshine in a bottle (tanning beds definitely do NOT count) or governments around the world decide to do away with an idea that was initially put into place to save energy during World War I, here's what you can do to hold on to your peace of mind.

Break a sweat. "Moving your body in any way will help you feel happier," says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, psychologist and bestselling author of Better than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love. Research shows it can be as effective as antidepressants, she notes. Go for a walk, jump on a bed, everything counts.

Give yourself something to look forward to. (And no, we don't mean spring. It's too far away!) "Go out to lunch with a friend or schedule an outing with your significant other," Lombardo suggests. "This can help you feel happier, not only while you're on the date but also when you're anticipating it."

More from CafeMom: Daylight Savings Time Ends! A Survival Guide for Parents

Rest already. Sure, binge-watching Netflix can be fun. (And when Gilmore Girls comes back, it's freaking required.) But "getting your sleep consistently will help you feel happier and less stressed," notes Lombardo.

Tackle a project. "Now is a great time to take on an indoor project you've been putting off," says Lombardo. Reorganize your kitchen, clean out your closet, donate those toys your kids are no longer using. "Accomplishing a task that's been hanging over you," she says, "will help you feel happier."

Have at it with a hobby. What's something you love to do but are always complaining that you don't have time for? "When we engage in an activity that's of interest to us, our happiness can go way up," Lombardo says. You don't need to go all out. Take just 15 minutes to pick up an instrument, mess around with your paint set, or learn a foreign language already.

Get some light. Damn straight, the days are shorter, but there's still some light to be had. Get outside for at least 15 minutes to get some fresh air and sunshine, Lombardo suggests. "The light can help energize you, and research shows that being in nature can help decrease stress."

But consider yourself forewarned. It IS possible that you'll try all of the above and still feel like s**t.

Feeling down more often than not, having changes in your appetite or sleep, feeling like your relationships are suffering, or using alcohol or drugs to cope are all red flags that your sadness is impacting your ability to function.

In that case, "it's time to seek assistance," says Lombardo. Speak to a therapist, who can help you regain a sunnier outlook, if not sunnier days.

  

Image via Shutterstock/Africa Studio

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