IT is difficult not to feel dread right now. I'm gripped with a sense of gloom that is impossible to shake. The clocks going back means that it will be dark much earlier tonight, with sunset a smidge before 5pm. Shortly afterwards, when the cloak of blackness descends outside, it might as well be midnight.

I always struggle with the shrinking daylight hours in October. By November, that mood seems to pass as body and mind recalibrate, finding a new rhythm that allows me to embrace the longer nights. But right now, it feels like being hit by a juggernaut.

The prospect of winter seems almost suffocating after the bright summer months and vibrant, kaleidoscopic colours of autumn. Usually around this time of year I begin to rely on a series of rituals to help bolster my depleted energy levels.

I mentally prepare to hunker down: lighting candles, getting cosy with blankets and thick socks, curling up with a good book, watching old movies, filling a favourite mug to the brim with hot chocolate and tiny marshmallows.

It is about being kind to myself. The thing is, though, that is a mantra I've been following for months now. It has become well-worn. Which means that, when I need it most, it feels a bit impotent.

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In an already tough and emotionally taxing year, all of those gloomy feelings are amplified, no matter how stoic I try to be. When Jason Leitch, the Scottish Government's national clinical director, said in recent days that the nation should prepare for a "digital Christmas" it was hardly a surprise.

Like most people, I've known in my heart that we will be in this limbo – purgatory some might say – for a while yet. But, through spring and summer, even early autumn, there was a tangible glimmer of hope.

It felt like we could see the summit of the mountain through the swirling mist and clouds. Now it feels as if we're tobogganing off-piste in the wrong direction, hurtling towards a sheer precipice with an avalanche nipping at our heels.

I'm doing everything I know I have to. I'm eating as healthily as I can muster. I'm walking the dog. I'm taking my vitamin D. I'm watching YouTube clips of unlikely animal friendships. I keep telling myself this is merely a blip. But that doesn't make it any less exhausting.

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The other day I got up to answer the door and stubbed my toe. Then, walking back through the house, I tripped over a rug and went down like a felled tree, landing with such a thump that my glasses were jettisoned across the floor.

Nursing a bruised toe, louping ankle and two sore knees, I could quite readily have sat there and wept in self-pity. But I dusted myself off and I got back up. It occurred to me that perhaps the universe was sending a much-needed message. Hang on in there. This too shall pass.

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