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Autumn dip – Duncan Stephen – Medium

Over the past few years I have noticed that I always have a distinct dip in the autumn. I feel more tired, I feel less happy, and I think less clearly. Sometimes I struggle generally with the stuff I need to do on a day-to-day basis.

It is not deeply serious, for which I am lucky. But I feel a bit worse, and I believe I perform worse.

Because I noticed it seemed to be an annual phenomenon, I now anticipate it. Which now makes me wonder if it’s a self-inflicted placebo effect.

But there probably is something in the fact that this time of year sees a rapid reduction in the amount of sunlight we’re exposed to. By mid-November, I will probably have got used to the winter levels of sunlight, and I’ll begin to feel fine again. But mid-September through all of October always feel like a slog for me.

What probably doesn’t help is that I begin to cycle less as well, with the nights drawing in. Most of my summer rides are on weekday evenings after work. Moreover, windy or icy weather is not conducive to cycling.

As a way of keeping my fitness levels up, I have decided to run more this winter. Alex thinks it makes me feel better. That alone makes it worth pursuing. I’m running 5 to 6 kilometres three times a week.

With the encouragement friends and colleagues, I am running at lunchtimes with a group at work, taking up parkrun, and even entering races. I’m becoming one of those running people, at risk of posting sweaty selfies at the finish line.

I can’t run every day though, and I’m not sure it always makes me better.

I wonder if this autumn dip is a recent phenomenon, or if I have been affected like this for years without me realising. It’s possible. After all, it took months, if not years, for me to realise that cow’s milk was making me ill every day.

It might be one of the reasons why I always felt like I struggled as a university student. September and October are a pretty vital time of the year. You’re getting to grips with new courses. In first year, you’re getting your head around everything about being a student.

In that scenario, a difficult autumn sets the scene for a difficult year. That was certainly how I felt when I was a student. But if I had known then that I was possibly being affected by the change in season, it may have set my mind more at ease.

As for now, I wade my way through mid-autumn, in the knowledge that things will probably be better in a few weeks’ time.


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