Kate Stevens

Kate Stevens, Life Coach

Get Outdoors for your Wellbeing this Autumn; 4 Easy Tips for the Cold Months

Autumn trees reflecting on water

3-4 min read with free resources


We know that looking after our physical, mental health and wellbeing ‘should’ be a priority yet to get outdoors in Autumn or Winter can feel hard.

Some of us will reduce or stop spending time outdoors because it’s easier to stay indoors where it’s warm and dry. We might make excuses – I’ve dodged a run because it was raining (!). Or face challenges with how we’re feeling at this time of year; the progressive reduction of daylight impacts our mood and can make some of us more prone to feeling low or anxious.

Yet Autumn is EXACTLY the time to get outdoors for your wellbeing and mental health and I’d like to share what I notice with the people I work with and myself.

Coloured leaves on the ground by a path, with a tree and blue sky
Ladywell Fields SE13

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Writing this blog makes me consider if I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or at least, that I acknowledge that I am affected by the change in seasons, negatively. I used to hate Autumn because it felt like a long trudge towards the gloom of Winter. Like an enforced hibernation I’d retreat into myself and indoors, not realising that I was disconnecting from people and the things I loved doing like walking with friends around our local parks. Autumn anxiety would make me feel rubbish; low mood, no energy, eat sugary or quick fix food to raise me up, when actually I needed to tune in better to what I was feeling, notice it and take more care of myself.

Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms are similar to those of perimenopause (check!) which I wrote about recently, depression and anxiety. The NHS has a good overview.

Whether I have SAD or not, I know that in Autumn and Winter I need to look after my mental wellbeing and physical health with lifestyle strategies that I know work for me and, consider new ones to liven it up.


How do I improve my wellbeing during Autumn and Winter?

With changes to lifestyle we can certainly improve wellbeing and feel more positive about the transition into Autumn and Winter. I invite you to consider two practical things to help your wellbeing and mental health this Autumn. I’m sharing what has helped me and what the people I work with have taught me in our Life Coaching together;


 A.  Take mental action

Tune in to yourself to simply understand what’s going on for you right now, for perspective and to embrace a Growth Mindset.

  • What’s your current mood?
  • Does your mood over Autumn and Winter deteriorate?


  • What’s going on for me right now? (how do you feel right now)
  • What am I telling myself? (thoughts, stories in your head)
  • What am I doing as a result? (your behaviour and actions)


*FREE RESOURCE* – Keep a Thought Record – people I work with seem to enjoy using this although they note it takes practice – effectively you are rewiring negative thoughts into positive thoughts.

By understanding what’s going on for you, can you replace any negative thoughts about Autumn and Winter into something neutral or positive?

Example; ‘I hate Autumn’, becomes, “I appreciate the leaves and colours that Autumn gives us.”  


B.  Take physical action

Get outdoors and move for your physical and mental health. Despite the challenge of weather (oh, the rain!) and reduced sunlight, to get outdoors and exercise I suggest, is BETTER at this time of year because it;

  • Challenges your perception; think you won’t like running in the dark? Try it – I LOVE it and I’ve convinced myself (although have no proof) that I run faster, which of course makes me go faster. Get a running buddy and pace the streets together
  • Releases all the feel good and happy hormones that naturally occur through exercise; serotonin for mood, endorphins releasing stress and finally a juicy hit of dopamine – the reward because you’ve achieved and done it
  • Nature is good for you. To spend time in nature is calming and restorative


My 4 Tips to Get Outdoors this Autumn and Winter

 1.  Set yourself a goal and make it happen

When we set ourselves a goal (or intention or challenge), we have something to work towards – a sense of direction. When we tell someone about it, we have accountability.
Read more about successful goal setting from Action For Happiness

There are often monthly challenges to join organised by charities, around being physically active or caring for your mental health. Try this November walking challenge by the Mental Health Foundation.


2.  Wear a pedometer or smartwatch to evaluate your progress

For motivation, measuring and evaluating your performance and dopamine for that sense of reward (or smugness – whatever you prefer!). Smartwatches measure information such as heart rate, time and distance travelled so are a good choice for evaluating your progress.

A Winter sunrise and a bare tree
Sunrise in Sydenham, London


3.  Get outdoors at sunrise for a boost to your day

Get outdoors for early morning sunlight to boost serotonin, improve your mood and help you sleep better – 5-10 mins per day as minimum. Good still on cloudy days says Professor Andrew Huberman (what – in the UK?!) and in Autumn and Winter. Perhaps why SAD lamps are so popular and dog-walkers don’t visit their GP.

And at this time of year you’ll see some cracking sunrises.

Watch Professor Andrew Huberman talking to Dr Rangan Chatterjee (about 6 mins in)

Or listen from about 11 mins 10.


4.  Get outdoors AND in a group

Walking, talking, connection and taking in the natural scenery does you GOOD and they are all great reasons why my Life Coaching is outdoors!


  • Walk in a group

Mental Health Mates was founded by Bryony Gordon and is volunteer-led groups that go walking and talking together for their mental health. A Walk and Talk is something that will be happening with me in 2023 so if you’re interested, join my mail list to find out first.


  • Cold Water Swimming

Mental Health Swims is another volunteer-led organisation getting you swimming for your mental health and they are all around the UK.

My personal experience of cold water = a big rush of endorphins and adrenaline that leaves me so totally invigorated that I’m on a high for hours after. Although I haven’t yet attended a Mental Health Swim, I’m hooked on swimming outdoors in the cold water. I’ve mentioned it previously and I’ll be blogging about my cold water dips and how I’m getting on soon!


  • Running

This Mum Runs – Again my personal experience – this is FAB offering and another volunteer-led group and FREE. Running in a group makes me do it, keep to a pace and not give up early. I’ve run a few times now with Louise and co in Peckham Rye Park, and they’re a small, super friendly group who’ve made me welcome. Talk, run, laugh. Join a group or This Mum Runs Dulwich if you’re local.


Smiling women in trainers and lycra
This Mum Runs Dulwich for a massive endorphin boost of exercise and laughing. Peckham Rye Park, Sunday mornings


I’ve included these in the blog this time.

Let me know your thoughts here!

Client agreement - ground rules.

1. Bring my whole self to this process; professionally and personally.

You cannot separate your professional and personal ‘lives’.

2. Be present in the moment and connected.

… to the coaching; what you’re thinking, feeling, experiencing. And…to nature if and where we are outdoors. If we’re on headphones, I’ll invite you to be descriptive of your environment too.

3. Bring the agenda to each session and keep your overall objective alive.

You can do this in several ways:

  • Be goal and action orientated – bring what you want to discuss and achieve to the session; OR
  • Talk and see what lands – exploratory and intentional.

I will bring the process, tools, ideas, resources and best practice to best support you towards your goal/intention/objective. More in your pre-coaching questionnaire. 

4. Give feedback and be responsive.

Coaching is collaborative. Neither of us should guess where we stand. I ask you to give me feedback and respond – you can rely on me to give and do the same.

I aim to get back to you within 24 hours of you emailing me, even if it’s just to say ‘I received your message’ before I respond properly. If it’s over the weekend or holiday, this may take longer.

5. Do the work in the session and in between sessions.

…so that you get the best value, even when it’s challenging. I might suggest a piece of work based on what you brought to the session. Mainly you will decide your course of action.

Whichever way, I’ll invite you to:

  • Reflect more; through walking, writing and whatever else fires you up, to help you achieve your objective.
  • Explore more; be curious and follow those trails of thought, intentionally
    Practice more; habits? Actions? Keep trying/tweaking.
  • Note what’s coming up that’s important or interesting to you in the session. I may share a few bullet points with you after, via Google Docs.

6. Session duration and timescale.

Generally a session is an hour but happy to shorten or increase session lengths, as and when we both can, that day. Where either of us thinks it appropriate, let’s say in the session. Timescale – let’s keep to the timescale agreed in the contract.

Additional information...

  • Coaching is a relationship designed to facilitate the development of personal or professional goals and develop a plan/strategy for achieving those goals.
  • It is comprehensive; it may involve other areas of your life beyond what you may have originally intended. It is your responsibility to choose and decide how to handle this, or even whether to.
  • It can be challenging; digging deep, creating better habits, becoming more self-aware, changing unhelpful beliefs you hold about yourself to something more helpful. There will be ups and downs. You will gain new insights, learnings and perspectives to help you achieve your goal.
  • You – the Client, are solely responsible for creating and implementing your own physical, mental and emotional well-being, decisions, choices, actions and results arising out of or resulting from the coaching relationship and your coaching calls and interactions with me – the Coach. As such, you agree that the Coach is not and will not be liable or responsible for any actions or inaction, or for any direct or indirect result of any services provided by me – the Coach. 
  • You – the Client, understand that in order to enhance the coaching relationship, you agree to communicate honestly, be open to feedback and assistance and to create the time and energy to participate fully in the program. I will do the same.
  • Coaching is not a substitute for counselling, mental health care or substance abuse treatment.  If you are in any kind of therapy, please tell me.  Tell your practitioner (medical or therapeutic) of you working with me.
  • I ask you to agree to commit to the coaching sessions to facilitate the required change.
  • I will treat you as the expert regarding the subject matter, which is…YOU.
  • I will allow time and space for you to explore your thoughts and think for yourself, no interruptions. There may be long pauses or silence sometimes to elicit more.
  • What goes on in your sessions is confidential. I do not discuss it with anyone. There may be occasion when it is my duty to break confidentiality:
    > If I feel you or I are at risk of harm.
    > Criminal / illegal activity.
    > A safeguarding concern or something else so serious that warrants concern.
  • I may talk to my coach or supervisor about issues arising in our sessions without ever naming or giving away you as the client. This is to ensure I am following professional and ethical guidelines and delivering my best. I subscribe to these by the ICF; https://coachfederation.org/code-of-ethics
  • Qualifications and CPD; I am an accredited coach. This means I have trained, practiced and qualified with Animas Centre for Coaching (Nov 2020). I hold a ‘Diploma in Transformational Coaching’. This is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
    > I have my own coach and group supervision
    > My CPD includes –  Outdoor Intelligence for Online Coaching (Oct 2020) -Positive Psychology (Feb 2021

My accreditations


My story

I’d been trying to work out ‘what else’ I could do with my career and life.

After 20 years in HR and with the children getting older, I wanted to change careers, but into ‘what?’ And ‘how’ was that even possible? And…’who would take on a mid-40’s apprentice?’!

I took small steps to boost my confidence and mindset; a regular ‘walk and whinge’ with friends to offload, short courses to up-skill, more running, more netball.
I asked my workplace ‘what else’ they needed that I could help with – ‘job crafting’. 

I was trying to make changes but it wasn’t really working. I was still frustrated and now, more miserable. I needed a different approach to find a way forward and release the building pressure I felt.

Hiring an accredited coach with whom I knew I could work with, enabled me to take a good look at myself – at times, uncomfortably.

To be listened to without any interruption, or judgement was empowering and I started to recognise what made me, me – my personality, strengths, what energised me and made me happy. What if these things amounted to a job I would…love…?

I followed my curiosity and dabbled with ideas about potential jobs, tasks and environments that would suit me, with a new, growth mindset.

I started to shift perspective. When I finally realised the ‘what’, I felt an energy and sense of knowing that was powerful. And I laughed, because it had been right in front of me!

Coaching undoubtedly helped me get to know myself, to see my potential and what was possible. I wholeheartedly decided through those sessions, on what and how I wanted things to be.

It had taken me two years of feeling stuck and miserable and a number of hours to be liberated.

This is what I now do with my clients. I help them rediscover themselves so that they can play to their strengths and thrive.