In the Northern Hemisphere, we are fast approaching the end of Daylight Savings Time. On November Fourth, we ‘Fall Back’ again and begin the long haul through the dark hours of winter. This time of the year can be particularly challenging for many people as we try to adapt to the change in seasons and the time change happening in November. Those first few days of November can feel like an uphill climb. Having grown up without the switch between Daylight Savings and Standard Time, I found the change, the first few years of living in North America, incredibly uncomfortable. I had to consciously consider how best to cope with the subtraction of an hour in Spring and the return of that hour in Fall. I hope the suggestions I offer below help you deal better with the change. Having a different understanding of a situation often highlights alternative ways of dealing with it.
Here are some useful, immediately applicable suggestions:
- Start adjusting your sleep routine gradually throughout October. You’re going to gain an hour on November Fourth, so, work out what is best for you to make the adjustment to your sleep patterns so the change is normalized over weeks, instead of overnight.
- Adjust meal times and other routine activities, such as going to the gym, to help cope with the addition of that extra hour in November.
- Make sure that you double check all appointment times with clients who are not going to experience the switch back to Standard Time. Often, we forget to factor in the change and its affect on our work schedules.
- Practice self-care and give yourself the time to adjust without adding to the stress. It’s a good thing the time change is always on a weekend, but for some, weekends are just as busy as weekdays, especially if you own a service business that operates seven days a week.
- Take time off if you are able to. For some, the change to Standard Time can be a trigger for anxiety, depression and a decline in emotional wellbeing. If you know you suffer acutely from the adjustment, take some time off to make the change less of a challenge.
- Schedule things well in advance and don’t overload your first week back on Standard Time. Focus in on the important tasks that need to be completed that week and do those first. If you complete those tasks, you can look at expanding to include less urgent matters, such as office administration (filing, returning calls and emails, scheduling non-crucial appointments).
- Take one day at a time, knowing you have the week planned out. Without the stress of juggling your week’s obligations, you’ll be more inclined to stay on task.
- Avoid distractions that sap time and energy, such as too much tv, social media, etc. . Instead, take that week to ‘detox’ from those things and save them for the weekend or the day you’ve set aside as your day off.
- Get ready for winter. If you live in an area that experiences November snowfalls, be prepared with all the gear you need in your vehicle. Make sure your wardrobe is seasonally appropriate. There can be few things as distracting as feeling cold for an entire because you’re wearing the wrong clothes for the season.
With a healthy perspective and sense of self-awareness, the switch to Standard Time on November Fourth should go a little smoother for you. Remember that this time of year is stressful for most people and even though you may not have been affected in the past, that is not a guarantee that you will not suffer a particularly rough transition this year. With the current social-politcal climate as it is, there are a lot of really stressful triggers we have no control over coming at us daily.Be aware of your mindset and mood moving into November. Give yourself permission to put the brakes on, if you feel yourself approaching the edge of what you can cope with. If you have additional difficulties (I suffer from anxiety, myself, and am prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder), be mindful of how the switch in time affects those. Take appropriate action, such as scheduling more time with family and friends, or getting a couple extra appointments in with your therapist. If you’re depressed, anxious or fighting to stay in control, it can affect your productivity and your outlook at work more than you realize.
We often push ourselves far past the point where we should be seeking support – be more self-aware and self-supportive. It is quite common to struggle through the onset of winter, and there is no shame in asking for help to get through it.
If your work productivity normally takes a hit at this time of year, I encourage you to try at least two, or three of the suggestions above. Monitor if changing the way you do things in November helps to unleash an enhanced ability to get though your work. I hope you have a productive and happy November.