Winter is hard! From Christmas stress to constantly battling the elements, it can all take a toll on our mental health. Here are some practical tips to keep in mind, helping you be kinder to yourself without withdrawing into complete hibernation mode until spring.
Light up your life
In the peak of winter, we can have as little as 5 or 6 hours of daylight and if the weather is bad it can feel like we’re in perpetual darkness! So make a little effort each day to seek light sources where you can. Starting in the home, you can brighten up interiors by incorporating more light sources with well-placed lamps. LED lights are brighter and more energy efficient too, so think about swapping out for these kinds of bulbs.
It’s nice to get that ‘cosy’ feeling at this time of year with candles and mood lighting, but avoid making things too sombre at the same time! Adding cheerfulness, incorporating brighter colours to home décor at this time of year can also boost mood, as does playing to the other senses, using things such as aromatherapy diffusers.
Many people use special light boxes therapeutically during the winter time, as these emit light similar to the daylight our bodies crave – half an hour each day can help boost your mood. Open curtains, let some fresh air in if you can and make sure windows are clean too as dirt and grime can further minimise available light when it’s already in short supply.
It’s okay to be gentler with yourself at this time of year, but avoid stopping altogether in order to best keep your mood balanced. If the weather makes it hard to head outside for a walk, find an indoor activity you enjoy, join a class or go for a swim. Winter naturally forces people to be more sedentary but trying to prioritise regular physical activity can stimulate those natural mood-boosting endorphins exercise brings.
When the weather cooperates, make the most of it and head outside for a walk, make your morning commute on foot or step out during your lunch hour in order to benefit from the daylight when it’s available. Wrap up against the elements – a winter’s walk can be beautiful and so good for the soul!
Movie nights and curling up with a book are great activities to indulge in when the weather is frightful (and the bank balance even more so around Christmas!) but complete hibernation at this time of year can lead to you feeling disconnected and lonely too. Make the effort to see friends and family or get involved in the local community in some way. We are social animals and there’s nothing like that feeling of connection to boost your own mood and personal wellbeing as well as that of those you’re spending time with.
There are times, even when we know what’s best for us, when it’s hard to find the motivation to help ourselves and it is important to seek help. Going to your GP and seeking other professional help such as counselling or therapy is something to seriously consider when you feel consistently down. Reaching out to family, friends or calling helplines such as the Samaritans are all options too – remember a lot of people are feeling similar things too and there’s no need to suffer alone in silence.