At The Open Door Centre, we support World Mental Health Day. Every one of us has mental health and in the darker months, it’s easy to fall into low mood and depression; especially now that October has approached. The long cold dark nights are looming in and for some people, this can really affect their mental state and wellbeing. Some people stay in bed for longer periods of time and we see less daylight. It can be a stressful time of year as we come towards Christmas and a lot of us will start to worry about money, family and the future. With these things combined, it may seem impossible to be extra kind to our minds but it’s the small things that have the biggest impact. These are some tips to help cope with the winter sadness that might lurk in:
Getting as much sunlight as possible in the darker months can help in the long run to keep your mood lifted. Try embracing the cold and spend time outside as much as possible. Its easy to say cooped up in bed and sleep in late but this may have a negative effect on your mood. Wrap up and get outside. Even if it means sitting in the garden/yard or taking walks to the local shop, light is limited in winter so getting small doses of sunlight where possible is important. Taking Vitamin D supplements is also advised as we get most of it from our exposure to sunlight. Not only is Vitamin D important for our physical health but taking supplements can play a part in boosting your mood too. Maybe even implementing some ‘light therapy’ at home could help using colours and different brightness. This article has some interesting info on how light affects our mood: http://mentalfloss.com/article/88046/6-ways-light-can-affect-your-emotions
2. If you’re staying in, try and look for something to do
Of course, we don’t want to always be out in the cold and it’s okay to have ‘cosy days’ as long as we know it’s good for our mental health. If you do want to spend some time cosied up on the couch or in bed, then make sure you’re still occupying yourself. Make the most of the cosy, lazy days and maybe pick up a new hobby or skill. Watch your favourite autumnal/wintery film, read a book (The October Country by Ray Bradbury is a great autumn read), invite a friend over to do some cooking/baking or play a board game. Maybe even catch up on any school, college or uni work. But make sure you’re still getting yourself out and keeping yourself busy on other days too. It’s all about balance.
3. Take a trip
Sometimes changing the scenery around us can stimulate our minds, boost our mood. Taking ourselves out of our normal daily routine even if it’s just for a weekend or even a day can do a lot to make us appreciate life a little bit more and the world around us.
4. Speak to someone
It’s important to talk and socialise at any of year for the sake of our wellbeing but it becomes easier for us to withdraw and stay inside whilst it’s cold. Make sure you’re speaking to someone at least once a day even if briefly. See them face to face. Visit your family and friends. If this is difficult for you then perhaps going to your nearest drop in or finding free classes locally to join where you can meet people with similar interests. Here at the centre, we hold free weekly group mindfulness classes every Friday from 5 pm – 6 pm, so feel free to visit us and join in. Mindfulness is a great way to unwind as well as learn a new strategy for low mood and anxiety. There are probably some free therapy/activity groups in your area as well and we may know a few so please don’t hesitate to give us a call to ask us.
More importantly, if you do feel you need support with your mental health and/or are in a crisis, please take a look at the updated directory from Wirral Health Watch to find the right people to speak to or get in touch with us: https://healthwatchwirral.co.uk/signposting/
The end of the year is a popular time for making goals. People sometimes feel a new year can be a fresh start so as it comes closer we want to set goals that we think will better our lives and especially to do with our health. While this is great that we are making effort to think positively about the future, there can be some repercussions if we start putting pressure on ourselves to live up to grand expectations. Setting small, realistic and achievable goals will allow us to feel accomplished over a long period of time and this is better for our mood and wellbeing.