We aim for our content to usually be entirely positive, and sometimes as a means to give you some time away from the stresses and obstacles of life. But we also want our content to be real and meaningful, so, today I am going to share my experiences with my mental health and wellbeing during the cold winter months and some things I have learnt about how to support myself if you are feeling a similar type of way (a lot of people do don’t worry!)
I have a history with anxiety and depression, these are still things I live and struggle with but usually I can keep them under control pretty well. Although, with the decreasing amount of sunlight, gloomy skies and cold temperatures, I do find myself being more susceptible to these problems in the Winter months. And this is quite common, having some down days in the winter time or at any time does not mean that you definitely have a mental health problem, as again this is quite normal, but if you do feel as though your mood is drastically effecting the way you live your everyday life or if you have any concerns at all, here is a useful resource about seasonal affective disorder.
*The remainder of this blog will purely be experience sharing and so it will not be rooted in any psychology or discussion of diagnosis*
I’m not sure why, but when it is gloomy and cold outside, it just seems harder for me to get out of bed, for me I have rooted it in the fact that the winter months do involve a lot of death. This isn’t a form of death that we should in any way fear, as it is plainly part of the cycle of life and allows new life to begin, but when there are bright flowers around you and warmth on your skin, there’s a lot of very apparent reasons to be happy in our everyday lives that just aren’t as obvious in the winter time, but, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there!
For me, in order to be mentally healthy in the winter months, I need to focus much more on being mindful, this is a topic that we address a lot on the 4YP site, but that’s only because it’s so important! I make sure that almost all parts of my day are done mindfully! When I eat breakfast in the morning, (yes, eat breakfast!) I make it slowly and take my time to make it look appetizing, I don’t rush eating it and appreciate all of the different flavours and textures.
Top tip: To practice being mindful, make food that has interesting textures that you can focus on like porridge. Then, if the food you are eating is something pretty bland, to make it ‘mindful’ (and just tastier!) add some sauce or spice that you can attempt to identify; cinnamon is a great addition to porridge!
You can use this same idea and just adapt it to different scenarios, take something that is generally mundane and make it interesting!
I have been challenging myself to think of the most simple and forgettable parts of my days and making them a mindfulness activity! One of my best ones so far has been putting on my clothes in morning once I get out of bed. With this cold weather it is a great opportunity to try and notice how all those bulky or scratchy jumpers feel against your skin! Or, when you put your gloves on to head out the door, take notice of how warm your hands feel, the texture of the material on your finger tips and how different it feels to touch and hold things with them on compared to your bare hand.
Finally, my favourite! We would all be lying if we told ourselves that we haven’t gone out on a winter day and pretended to be a dragon when we can see our breath in the air. This is the best thing to focus on for me as it’s not just fun to act like a child for a while, it’s also a reminder that we are alive and that’s what mindfulness is really about! Living in the moment and being self-aware of when you are feeling bad and when you need to ground yourself by reminding yourself of how amazing life really is!
So, the nest time you look out the window and just feel down, take the active step to make your day exciting and something to look forward to! Be kind to yourself, be mindful and remember that it is only temporary!
With all of this in mind, some days are simply just bad days. and that’s okay! Give yourself some time to embrace it and try your best to implement any of these tips if you can!