October is arguably one of the greatest months of the year. Or at least we think so. Around here, we bake copious amounts of apple pie, enjoy a wealth of crinkly leaves, and eat more candy than we, as full-grown adults, ever thought possible. So in light of the season, we thought we’d break down a few things to be afraid of in October.
And no, we’re not referring to Michael Myers or the clown from IT (but seriously though, that thing is creepy).
What really scares us this fall? Shorter, darker days. A lack of motivation as we head into the holiday season. A jam-packed calendar that keeps getting busier. And on we go. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to keep these frightening things at bay—and we know just how to do it. With the help of science, of course.
5 Happiness- and Productivity-Busting Things to Be Afraid of in October
Read on for five things to be afraid of in October and the solutions that keep them in the dark.
If your motivation and productivity wavers in the fall, it’s probably not your imagination. British researchers found that we get significantly less work done in colder months. Plus, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while less than half a percent of workers called out of work when the weather was warm, that percentage went up to almost two percent during the colder months.
The magic spell: Get some natural light
Researchers at Cornell say lighting has one of the biggest impacts on increasing alertness and productivity at work. Less light in October = less productivity. But how can you get your light on, even in a drearier month? Simple:
- Get a flameless candle. There’s no shortage of these this time of year, plus it’s the perfect work-friendly desk décor that can quickly brighten a dark corner.
- Take advantage of light-seeking spots. Change up the scenery when you need a mood boost, like to a conference room with floor-to-ceiling windows.·
- Amp up your bulb game. Replace your bulbs with ones that mimic natural light, or invest in a full-spectrum lamp for your desk.
Maybe you want to snooze your alarm twice as long as usual or are finding it harder to make it to your 7 p.m. gym class. But maintaining a daily routine is quite important for our mental health, according to a study. So when it lacks, so does your mood.
The magic spell: Condense your daily rituals
Having a routine is important, but that doesn’t mean it has to be perfect. This month, try making some shortcuts to the routine you were used to during the warmer days. For example:
- Shorten your workout. Make it 20 minutes instead of 30 and incorporate some high-intensity interval training (HIIT). A workout with just one minute of HIIT may boast just as many benefits as your longer, moderate-intensity workout, according to a study in the journal PLoS ONE.
- Ditch morning screen time. It’s tempting to scroll through social or the news the moment you open your eyes, but research shows focusing on your morning routine—without your phone—can enhance your creativity throughout the day.
- Set your coffee to auto. If there’s one thing not to ditch, it’s your morning brew. On top of keeping you alert, caffeine has the power to boost your mood and increase your focus during the day. Have your machine do the work for you if there’s no time to make a pot.
Weather has an effect on our moods, both negative and positive, according to a study published in Emotion. Though we love an excuse to wear chunky sweaters, cooler weather and darker days can dampen our spirits. They can even lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder related to changes in seasons.
The magic spell: Practice self-care
There isn’t much we can do about the weather, but we can show ourselves some self-care at a time like this. Ideas:
- Change up your skin routine. A colder climate can dry out our skin, and a new moisturizer can do just the perk-up trick (or treat).
- Light a fall candle. Research shows that smell plays a role in our emotions, and scented candles—perhaps cinnamon, pumpkin, or nutmeg—can help adjust your mood.
- Stay hydrated. We’re more at risk of dehydration when the temperature drops, so keeping your water bottle on you this time of year is extra important.
The holidays can really creep up on you—and so can an overload of plans. As much fun as parties and events can be, it’s important to approach the season with some realism. Saying yes to everything that comes your way can mentally and physically burn you out, according to Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.
The magic spell: Start turning down plans
It sounds cliché, but it’s true: The only person who has control over your schedule is you. And if always being on the go is making you more stressed than happy, it’s time to start doing less. Try these tips:
- Prioritize traditions. Does your coworker’s husband’s Halloween party fall on the same day as when you typically binge-watch scary movies with your best friend? We think you know the answer here.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no.” Tell your friend or family member you’re sorry that you can’t commit to the fall festival this year, but you should definitely grab dinner when your calendar isn’t so hectic.
- Optimize your energy levels. More of a morning person? Keep the coffee dates, but ditch the bar scene. Night owl? Pencil in plans only after 6 p.m. so you’re not stressing out trying to make it to brunch on time.
Feeling like a literal zombie, aka you’re conking out during client meetings? You’re not alone. Hypersomnia—essentially, the opposite of insomnia—is fairly common during the fall. In fact, people sleep the most in October—about 2.7 hours more per day than they do in other months, according to a study from Harvard Medical School reported in Shape.
The magic spell: Sleep more
It’s simple but effective: If you’re more tired, you probably need more sleep. How to get more sleep, especially with that packed calendar, you ask?
- Take a power nap. A 20- to 30-minute nap can boost your mood, alertness, and performance, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
- Invest in a better pillow. Shape, curvature, temperature, and overall comfort all play a role in your shut-eye quality, found a study published in The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine. (Learn how to pick the perfect pillow here.)
- Set a bedtime—and stick to it. The more you can get to bed and rise at the same time each day, the less at risk you are for diseases such as high blood pressure and obesity (and of course, the less tired you’ll be, too).
Even though there are plenty of things to be afraid of in October, you don’t have to let the fear win. If you’re feeling unmotivated or unhappy this season, you might just be in need of a quick tune-up—whether that means shining some light on your day, giving your daily routine some TLC, or prioritizing yourself. Happy October!
Tell us: What’s on your list of things to be afraid of in October? How do you overcome them?
For festive ways to celebrate the season, check out our list of productivity Halloween costumes.