Late November. Northern climes. Dry crisp mornings and rustling floors of park leaves giving way to damp, darker days as nature's clock ticks us towards early winter.
Our little earth rock rotating with relentless cosmic efficiency. Its less climate-trusted species, alas, now blurring the lines between once distinct meteorological seasons.Adjustments of the season, adjustments of the mind. For many, a disordered and difficult process.
Extended public health restrictions will make this seasonal transition even more arduous. The social interactions that help sustain us through the lonelier winter months will be heavily curtailed, adding to an already rising mental health crisis.
Figures showed a significant surge in 'lockdown loneliness' as the clocks changed at the end of October. This includes particularly high numbers of younger, as well as older, people. Coping with long dark nights of detachment and isolation will be a new and challenging experience for many.
The worries we harbour over recent events, what's going on, and what's yet to come can often seem overwhelming.
When feeling like this, it's good to avoid excess exposure to repetitive news, adversarial social media and other mind-burdening output.
Reflect, instead, on the commonality being shown by others, the enduring support of family, the selfless friends helping to keep us going, the kindly acts of a neighbour.
Exercise regularly, if possible, do balance and yoga-type stretches, take outdoor walks, put on background music, dance, and do any diversifying thing that promotes an easy, uplifting and positive mindset.
Putting down some notes on feelings and emotions may help too, even writing little messages or a letter to a loved one.
Short meditations through the day and night can bring particular welcome respite and alleviation of anxiety.
Mindful contentment can be hugely beneficial to our overall psychology, helping to boost our immune systems and general health.
Restrictions on the festive season will also affect many this year. Yet might this be a most useful moment to take a more mindful view of the whole stressful enterprise?
Perhaps this season's limitations on the great festival of consumption can bring a more appreciative sense of all the things we really don't need, and the true value we place in the greater gifts of good health, nature and human connection.
How much nicer to move with the slow instruction of the turning earth than the rushing dictates of the manic market.
Light some candles and mark the mystical winter solstice, as the shortest day and longest night gives gradual way to returning sunlight.
And as we watch the changing days, extend that sense of loving kindness not only from yourself and towards others, but to all species and our bountiful planet, breathing in calm, rhythmic meditation with the cycle of all its wondrous seasons.