Sun on a winter's day

We know winter can be a difficult time. The long dark nights, the dull days, the post-Christmas slump can affect anyone. Here’s a few ideas we hope may help keep you sparkling through the winter months.

Keep active

Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. It doesn’t need to be particularly intense for you to feel good. Slower-paced activities, such as walking, can have the benefit of encouraging social interactions as well providing some level of exercise. Research has shown that a daily one-hour walk in the middle of the day could be as helpful as treatment with specialist SAD lights that replicate the sun’s natural light for coping with the winter blues.

Take advantage of any sunshine

Go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, especially at midday and on brighter days. It’s tempting to stay indoors when it’s cold outside. But if you can venture out and get direct sunlight exposure, that keeps the body clock in sync. You will feel the benefit of a walk outside.

Keep warm

It’s also been shown that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half. Keep warm with hot drinks and hot food. Wear warm clothes and shoes, and aim to keep your home heated. If heating your home is a problem, then getting out to a local library or community centre is an option. It also gives you a chance for some social interaction.

Eat well

A healthy diet boosts your mood, gives you more energy and will stop you putting on weight over winter. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Try some new recipes or eating something different to make a change to your routine.

Try something new

Keeping your mind active with a new interest can help ward off negative feelings and keep your mind active. It could be anything, such as learning an instrument, knitting, trying a gym class, craft activities, or reading. It will give you something to look forward to and can break you out of a rut.

Connect with other people

There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world. Socialising is good for your mental health. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while.

Talk it through

Talking with someone always helps and treatments such as counselling can help you cope with symptoms. See your GP for information on what’s available locally on the NHS or check out some of the phone numbers overleaf.

Keep to your care plan

Excessive use of alcohol or drugs is strongly linked to low moods, anxiety and conflict – something you can do without when feeling vulnerable. Make use of mutual aid such as AA, NA or SMART. Make sure you keep your appointments and keep in touch with your key worker, especially if you are feeling low.

This information is adapted from the NHS advice on https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/dealing-with-winter-blues-sad.aspx