Tips for Maintaining Your Mental Health This Winter

Many people find the transition from Summer to Autumn an exciting one. Trading sliders for scarves, cami tops for cosy cardigans, excited to order their first pumpkin spiced latte of the year. While yes, it is a lovely time of the year for most, it is also completely normal if the countdown to December fills you with a slight sense of fear.

The summer evenings have gone and the early hours of darkness seem to seep in sooner every day. The notions of ‘fun’ and ‘carefree’ attributed with the summer season but a faded memory.

If you are anything like me, the very whisper of the word ‘Christmas’ fills me with the upmost anxiety, coupled with the decreased hours of daylight and colder temperatures. However Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as ‘winter depression’, is incredibly common during the Winter months.

For this reason, it is vitally important that we look after ourselves to maintain our mental health more than ever during this confusing period. For a long time, I struggled with the shift from warm bright days, to cold dark ones coupled with feeling of tiredness leaving me mentally drained.

Now, I try to take each day as it comes and here are some of my top tips to help beat the Winter blues…

  • Physical activity – It may be one of the most commonly used answers for when you are feeling ‘down’, but it is true that your body releases endorphins during exercise. It can improve mental stimulation and make you feel less tired. During the colder weather it may be better to exercise indoors (or during the day if you feel unsafe at night). You don’t need a gym membership or professional sets of weights. Even if you just take the time for a walk or brisk jog it can be beneficial.
  • Cook – Winter can be the perfect time to brush up on your culinary skills. Think roasts, comfort food, hot pots, baking.
  • Maintaining a good sleep pattern – this is important all year long, but your body’s circadian rhythm (your internal body clock) responds to sunlight to time your sleeping patterns. So making sure you maintain a steady rhythm during the Winter is a good idea.
  • Enjoy the little things – I have really learnt during my mental health struggles that the key is to savour the smaller things in life such as appreciating nature, watching the sunset and having a cup of tea.
  • Talk – a problem shared is a problem halved, I promise you are not alone in your feelings. Whether you talk to a family member, friend or a specialist, it is always better than bottling things up. Try to socialise (COVID safely of course) with others, just because you can’t go down the beach doesn’t mean you can’t do other cute wintery dates.
  • Get creative – another tip which may sound somewhat repetitive is using the arts to channel your emotions. This could be listening to music, drawing, photography or even just keeping a journal to track how you are feeling or something positive that happened each day.
  • Have ‘you’ time – don’t feel guilty for getting under a blanket and binging your favourite Netflix drama, make sure you make time to do things that you enjoy, away from work/studying.
  • PLAN FOR THE SUMMER! – It is important to remember that these feeling won’t last forever. If you are desperate to feel the sun on your skin it will come back around soon. You could take the time to research some places you might want to visit when the summer months come back around, or hunt down outfits on ASOS for July next year!

Photo courtesy of Alex

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