I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I always feel worse in the winter. You wake up, it’s dark. You come home from work, it’s dark. There’s very little sunlight and it’s always cold and raining and just a bit dreary. That can obviously have an effect on anyone’s mood – speaking from experience I am always grumpier in the winter months.
There are obviously plus sides to winter: Christmas, my birthday, everything from bleach to hot chocolates are Winter Spice flavoured. But overall, it isn’t really as fun as summer. Summer has the long days, the warmer weather, the pub gardens. You don’t have to wear two pairs of socks and three layers on top at all times and you never have to get in bed with your dressing gown on until you’ve acclimatised.
I’m no expert, but I love nattering about mental health and how to kick feeling low up the arse. Bear in mind, as always that I’m no expert and these are literally basic tips, that if we’re being honest, you probably already know, but I always find if I’m saying these things to myself I never listen, whereas someone else always makes more sense.
Actually get up, get dressed, get out. In the summertime, it’s so easy to laze around in your pyjama shorts all day. Wake up, open the back doors and then just lay around like a warm happy cat for half the day before getting dressed around lunchtime. In winter, this doesn’t always work as you wake up, wrap yourself in your dressing gown and slippers and fester on the sofa for three hours before realising you’ve wasted the day and it’s going to be dark before you’ve got clean pants on. That’s a mood-killer like no other. So. First step to combating feeling low in the winter: when you get up, get washed and dressed and then you’re done. You’re ready to face the day whilst the sun is still up.
Have a to-do list. I don’t mean three pages of extensive tasks that fill up your whole day. A good start is following The Organised Mum Method which involves 30 minutes of cleaning a day and means you keep on top of your house at all times. I’ve dropped this a bit over the past few weeks..months..but I have a feeling that having that to-do list to get all my jobs done in 30 minutes will help me feel motivated and successful, even when the day feels grim. Having a time limit on each task helps as well, because you haven’t spent all the livelong day scrubbing your kitchen floors, and can still get out for some festive fun!
Get some light. No, you don’t have to do a 5K every morning but even walking to and from Tesco to pick up bread and milk helps. If you add it into your to-do list then you’re killing two birds with one stone. Sitting in the garden for five minutes with a bit of sun on your face. Research (I just Googled it) suggests that we need Vitamin D or our bones with wither and crumble, so any glimpse of sun you can get will help. Plus if you walk far enough, you’ll come across a coffee shop eventually. If you live in the outer stretches of Finland or Norway, where night can last about six months, or work night shifts, then you might want to invest in a light box, you can get them on Amazon for between £50-£100.
Don’t suffer for the sake of others. It’s so easy, over the next few months to really suffer because it’s what you think you should be doing. This point is basically paraphrasing a post I see shared on Facebook every winter, that says “don’t put yourself in debt to buy others presents and don’t go and see people who make you feel bad.” Which is very true, and can definitely add to me feeling absolutely shit during the Winter months. You don’t need to keep yourself awake at night worrying about whether the diary and box of Malteasers you’ve bought Great Aunt Ethel is going to be enough. You are more important, and if you’re going to suffer to make sure ol’ Ethel has a full sack under the tree then please don’t. I’m sure she’ll be chuffed with the Malteasers and a bit of Dove. And if you’re on a work night out and they reach for the Jagerbombs, remember what I taught you and politely decline. You’re the boss. You’re in control.
Be brave. This one connects with the last point, as I know sometimes it takes a lot to say: “No, I’m going home now. I’ve got to go see Ethel tomorrow and deliver her pressies at 9am” especially if you’re feeling pressure to get festive. However, sometimes you do need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. As I’ve said before in previous posts, it’s good to listen to your body and practise a bit of self-care every now and then. If your body is telling you it wants biscuits then feed it. But if it wants biscuits for breakfast, lunch and tea for a month and you’ve forgotten what fruit feels like then maybe it’s time to take control back. Sometimes you just need to pull your big girl pants up and make the rules, especially when it feels like anxiety or depression is another being in your brain making up all the rules. Whether it be forcing yourself up and out of the house one Saturday morning to go and do a Park Run or if it’s making an appointment to go and see a therapist, do something brave this winter and I promise you’ll feel better for it.
As always, whenever I talk about mental health here – I just wanted to pop a little note on the end saying that I am 100% not an expert in anything mental or health related. If you’re really struggling and my piddly tips don’t even crack a smile then please make sure you contact your local GP to get some proper help. 🙂