1. Notice the seasons change – be aware of how things look so very different – Autumn can be an outstanding time with it’s blazes of unbelievable colours, frosty mornings (including frosty spiders webs!), piles of leaves, conkers – it is a delight to have seasons that are different – even if they are not your favourite. I lived for a number of years in a country with 2 seasons – 1) very hot, and 2) a bit cooler, and I really missed the seasons. Get out with your camera and capture some moments maybe make yourself some crafty adornments for your house. Nature is once again showing us how amazing she is, so savour it.
Something else I am savouring at this time of year is my winter duvet – such a cosy nest!! And there is a whole world of “cosy” in the Hygge movement worth checking out to get you in the zone! Check out this article to begin.
2. Light Therapy – Do you have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Or do you sometimes wonder if you have a mild case? If so, you may be dreading this time of year. What is SAD? It is an increase in depression in the winter months, possibly due to long nights, short days, less natural light in many countries. Our circadian rhythm may be negatively affected, the clocks change all the messages are telling us that this is a time to slow down and hunker down/hibernate for the winter. But in our modern world that isn’t possible – so remember to be kind to yourself – you are swimming against the tide to some extent, by carrying on over the winter months in the same way as the rest of the year. What might help? Many people find using light therapy extremely helpful. Firstly, try natural light and go out when you can – especially around midday when it is sunny, wrapped up against the chill. Secondly, consider using a light therapy box – where you sit in front of it, at home, in the office, for around 30 minutes daily. These are far more accessible now – and many models are available – such as this one . When I deliver my mental health & wellbeing work in workplaces I recommend they invest in one or two, so that their employees can try them out and see if they help before buying their own. Some GP’s and Mental Health Teams also loan them out. Worth asking before you buy?
3. Take Vitamin D supplements – as recommended by Public Health England. This has become more important throughout this year, if people are not getting out as much as usual due to shielding and self-isolating. There is some evidence that people with low mood and anxiety are low in Vitamin D. 10 micrograms per day is sufficient for most people.
4. Your diet – the reason Vitamin D supplements are recommended in winter is because we can usually manufacture all the Vitamin D we need from our daily exposure to the sun – it is called the “sunshine vitamin”. Except in winter, when the days are shorter. Our diets are not so rich in vitamin D. Oily fish, eggs and fortified foods contain some. As well as Vitamin D we also need to attend to our Gut Health – and the amazing link there is between our gut and our brains – do read this article from Men’s Fitness Magazine, it is fascinating.
I have recommended her before but if you would like to discuss your personal diet/gut health with a nutritionist do contact Minna Wood at Metawell and consider making some small changes to your diet for your own benefit.
5. Professional help – if you are concerned about your mental health – increased anxiety, low mood, etc PLEASE consider professional help. Your GP is likely to be your first port of call, but anyone can refer themselves for Talking Therapy without seeing their GP – you just need to find your local service here. We must reduce the stigma often associated with taking medication for mental illness. If you are ILL you may require medication – whatever the illness is. Some people who become mentally unwell require medication and there is no shame in that. In some cases it can SAVE lives, in many more it can CHANGE lives for the better.
We are Unlock Your Wellbeing – contact us for Mental Health & Wellbeing Training