Updated: Nov 23
As the days get shorter, winter can feel difficult. Our peer workers have some great suggestions and things they do during winter to stay well.
Lauren says "This winter, I’ll be..."
Doing art/craft projects - I know I naturally get lower mood this time of year, and dopamine-promoting creative activities help lift my mood. I make a lot of Christmas gifts.
Going for walks on my lunch break, especially whenever it’s bright, to get some vitamin D. And taking supplements to top it up.
Using my support network when I feel low. I have counselling starting soon, and will try to keep quite busy, with plans to attend groups and see friends.
Sitting with my cat, who gets cuddlier in the colder weather.
Sarah talks about winter with children
Although I like the winter, I find the frequent rainy days crippling with young children.
I try and keep my focus on the present moment- It helps sometimes. Here's a picture of a game I was paying with my 4 year old daughter; I managed to get as engrossed in it as she did, and I actually really enjoyed myself 😂🌧
Zoe has advice on SAD
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at a specific time of year, usually in the winter months when daylight is reduced. it is sometimes referred to as "winter depression" or "winter blues". What causes SAD? The exact cause of SAD is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to changes in daylight exposure and the body's internal clock. Recognising the signs The symptoms of SAD are similar to those of depression and can include:
lack of energy
changes in sleep pattern
changes in appetite
Recognising the symptoms of SAD is the first step in learning how to manage and/or seeking help. By understanding that these symptoms are not just a case of "winter blues" but rather a legitimate medical condition, individuals can take proactive steps towards finding relief and improving their mental health during the winter season. Coping with SAD during the winter months There are a number of ways you can help yourself including:
Light Therapy: One of the most common treatments for SAD is exposure to bright light, typically from a light box (like the photo below). This can help reset your biological clock and elevate mood.
Maintain a Regular Schedule: Keeping a consistent routine, especially waking up and going to bed at the same time, can help regulate your internal clock.
Stay Active: Engage in regular physical activity, even if it's just a daily walk. Exercise can boost serotonin levels and reduce SAD symptoms.
Spend Time Outdoors: Even on cloudy days, natural light can help, so try to spend some time outside every day.
Eat a Balanced Diet: Focus on whole foods, and consider limiting sugar and processed foods. Some people find that certain nutrients, like vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, can help alleviate SAD symptoms.
Stay Connected: Socialising can boost your mood, so stay connected with friends and family, even if it's just a phone call or video chat.
Manage Stress: Techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing exercises can help manage stress, which can exacerbate SAD symptoms.
Limit Alcohol and Caffeine: Both can interfere with sleep patterns and mood. Consider reducing or eliminating them, especially in the evening.
Consider Medication: Some people with SAD benefit from antidepressant medications. Consult with a doctor or psychiatrist about this option.
Seek Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective for SAD. A therapist can help you identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors that might be making you feel worse.
Embrace Winter: What do you like about winter that you can focus on such as Christmas, it can be good to have a positive element you can focus on.
Go out to take photos of reflections in puddles, frosty spider webs, stormy clouds, umbrellas, wellington boots and other fun wintery things. Then take time to edit them and feel proud, and it's cheap to print photos at Boots so you can make albums or frame them!
Let us know on social media - what are your favourite things about winter or what do you do to stay well?