Looking after your wellbeing in winter
The winter months can make it difficult for many of us to manage our mental health. The colder temperatures and shorter days could mean we feel the need to withdraw from things we normally enjoy. Here are some tips of what to do to manage your wellbeing in winter.
Identify what you struggle with during these months
Triggers and situations that we struggle with can be different for everyone. It may be a stressful day at work, worrying about your finances, a difficult conversation with someone or the bus is running late. By being aware of what you find difficult, it is easier to make plans to manage when these difficult situations happen. For example, when you have experienced a stressful day at work, after work you could plan to go for a jog, enjoy a home comfort meal or spend time with loved ones. If you’re struggling to work out what makes you feel overwhelmed, keep a diary and see if there are any links between what you do and how it makes you feel.
Keep a routine
In the winter months, it can be hard to feel as motivated to go outside and do things like you would in the summer months. Try and keep as much of a routine like the summer months as possible. Humans love routine so doing similar activities can boost your mood. It can be hard to sometimes do things so plan using a SMART goal. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Focused. For example, next Monday at 6pm for 15 minutes I will do yoga at home. This gives us a set-target whilst keeping it realistic.
Spend time in nature
Being in nature whatever time of year can do wonders for our happiness. The weather in the winter months can mean that we don’t feel as motivated to go outside. However, being in nature can improve our mood by being in a
different environment. Why not have a go at going to a local park and come prepared with a coat, scarf and umbrella!
Always have a plan B if you’re doing a weather dependent activity
It can be demoralising when a plan gets cancelled because of bad weather. When making plans, have a backup option if the weather is unkind. For example, if your walk with friends gets cancelled, you could meet at a museum, café or someone’s home instead. This means you still get to feel connected with others despite the initial plan no longer being possible.
Create healthy habits at home
In the winter months, it can be natural for our motivation to take a dip and we can reduce time we spend doing things we’d normally enjoy. We can overcome this by starting healthy habits at home. This could be something like cooking a meal, having a self-care evening (watching a film, taking a bath, reading a book), exercising or choosing to put your needs first. If you struggle with staying up too late, try one night where you start your wind down routine earlier.
Talk to someone
Sometimes things feel just too much, especially during the darker months of the year. It can feel hard to reach out and you can feel alone with your feelings. Know that you are not alone and many other people feel this way.
If you feel comfortable to, speak with a loved one or someone you trust. Speaking about our difficulties can give us a sense of relief. If you don’t feel comfortable to speak with someone you know, you can try other services such as a
peer support or befriending services.
Also, you can reach out to a professional such as a GP or therapist. You can discuss your difficulties with your local Talking Therapies service who may be able to support you to find the best service for your needs.
You can refer yourself for talking therapy by completing this simple online form.
This article was originally published in issue 12 of Community Living Well magazine. You can read past issues of our magazine or sign up to our mailing list for all the latest from Community Living Well.
Author: Stewart Gillespie
Posted on: 20th November 2023