The tips for my experiment were found in articles from Nobel Coaching, Counselling Directory, and foodspring

Become a Scandinavian!

  • Easy

My Swedish-loving (and -speaking) soul didn’t have to be told twice: I am ready to go Scandi nearly every day. What the article suggested was to enjoy all the unique activities offered by the colder season: so I put on my chunky pullovers, wrapped myself into a newly-bought thick scarf, and brought out some thick wool socks/house shoes, a gift from my granny. One last item on the list was to make a huge mug of hot chocolate, but I can already tell you that being all warm and comfy on a cold, windy, drizzly, overcast day in St. Pete is a sure way to lift your mood, if only just a little bit. 

Eat pumpkin

  • Easy

I would like to add a correction to this one: it should say cook and eat pumpkin. Usually, this is the time of the year when I whip out my self-developed vegan pumpkin curry recipe and reminisce about the first time I made it – as an exchange student in Germany. And all these associations, combined with, first, the challenge of prepping the pumpkin and then, the joy of tasting the results of my efforts, always do the trick. This time I didn’t have the time and energy to actually cook the pumpkin, so I had to do with savoring a pumpkin soup at a local café – and it was …okay? So, next time I want a pumpkin-based pick-me-up, I’ll be following one of the recipes listed here.  

Take a forest walk

  • Doable

I applaud anyone who has the time to venture out of the city into an actual forest. One day I will be among them – and once I get there, I’ll probably stay in a cabin in the middle of nowhere for a few days for good measure – but for this experiment, a lovely park near my apartment had to do. It helps that it’s mostly maple trees, which I have a weird fondness for and which also turn all colors of red and yellow in the fall. So, I am here to tell you: walks in parks work, too! Or maybe it’s about the proverbial walk for your mental health. In any case, getting out for even 10-15 minutes can be a great mood booster.

Credit: Alsu Vershinina on Unsplash

Credit: Alsu Vershinina on Unsplash

Take cold showers

  • Major challenge

What wouldn’t you do for a story, right? This was the most exciting and petrifying task on the list, and if it wasn’t for years of hearing all about the different benefits of cold exposure, I wouldn’t have considered it lightly. My first attempt was rather embarrassing: I was too scared to take a full shower, so I “exposed” only my upper body. The next day, I stood up to the challenge and spent about a minute screaming under cold water. It was freezing, but it was also unmistakably fun! Thank you, neurotransmitters, for making it possible – I do recommend trying this out, and I am thinking of making it a lasting habit myself. If anything, it will make you feel invincible and up for everything else the day has in store for you.

Develop better sleeping patterns

  • Impossible?

This is my perpetual stumbling block, despite the experiment I did earlier this year. However, I am not giving up. My recent discovery is chamomile tea a short while before bed: this makes me so sleepy that my mind doesn’t even do its usual anxious itemization of every task I need to do in my life for the next year. And when you wake up having slept enough, you truly are somehow less prone to moodiness. So, if you are having a hard time keeping your spirits up, it might be good to check whether you are getting enough quality sleep. 

Be kinder to yourself…

  • Takes time to learn

Doing a twist on this one, I used this experiment as a nudge to complete my annual health checkup – so I booked an appointment and visited the last remaining specialist. I know it’s boring and so old of me, but as a very (very!) anxious, hypochondria-prone individual, I take a lot of comfort in knowing for sure that I am alright. No kidding, my sleep improved (one less thing to keep me up at night) and I even got a little confidence boost. Other things you could do is setting some time aside to enjoy your favorite activity or treating yourself to a warm bath, a massage, or a tasty meal.

Credit: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Credit: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

…and to others

  • Wholesome

Call me mushy, but this one was my favorite, maybe because it aligned so well with my values. There are many things you could do here, but I chose cooking – or rather baking – for my close ones. I didn’t always think this way, but cooking truly is an act of love: using ingredients you know to be someone’s favorites or doing a recipe you know they love, carefully mixing everything, regularly checking on your dish in the oven, and then setting up a little tea ceremony to have cozy quality time over your creation. Many things can come close, I guess, but for me, this is its own unique brand of magic.

Find even more tips on filling up your autumn days with fun activities in one of our previous stories.