Looking after your mental wellbeing in the winter months

Published on: 24th November 2022

Winter is a time of joy and of hope for the future, where families come together to celebrate the passing of another year in the warmth and comfort of each other’s company… or at least that’s what it’s like in films! In reality, many people struggle with their mental health and wellbeing in winter, often with a dip in mood and energy caused by a variety of reasons including Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

At the Lincolnshire Recovery College, we recognise that for many it can be a time of stress, worry and increased expectation, especially with the rising cost of living. Combined with the shorter hours of daylight and worsening weather, winter can be a very difficult period. People often feel overwhelmed with their worries, anxious about their situation, and more isolated than usual.

As part of Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the College offer free educational courses about mental health, recovery and wellbeing. On Wednesday 14th December, the team are running a course called ‘Thriving in winter’, which draws on lived experience. The session will help people to identify triggers which particularly affect them and discover ways to look after their mental wellbeing during the colder months. You can sign up for this online course at www.lpft.nhs.uk/recovery-college

We can all learn self-management techniques to feel more in control of our emotions and take positive steps to feel better in wintertime. You can incorporate the following five tips into your routine and remember, you are not alone in how you are feeling.

  1. Take regular exercise and spend time outside, especially in the daytime. Even gentle exercise can lift our mood and improve our physical health. This is even better if it involves spending time outside in the daytime to boost vitamin D levels and provide the opportunity to take notice of the nature around you. You can also eat melatonin rich foods such as walnuts, tomatoes and rice, which can help to improve your sleep cycles. 
  2. Try to keep a regular sleeping pattern. Shorter daylight hours can make it more difficult to keep a regular sleeping pattern in the winter months, however it is so important for our energy levels and wellbeing. For helpful tips on sleep, visit the NHS Every Mind Matters website.
  3. Stay connected with others and talk about how you are feeling. Nurturing our relationships with others can help us to feel happier, more secure and with a greater sense of purpose. Even if we can’t meet in person, maintaining friendships through digital means can make all the difference in preventing us from feeling isolated. Talking helps!
  4. Keep learning and taking part in creative hobbies. When we aren’t feeling motivated, it can be easy to stop doing activities which would usually bring us joy. We should remember that hobbies can reduce stress, stimulate our brains, and give us goals to work towards.
  5. Live more in the moment and practice gratitude daily. Being in the moment and taking the time to appreciate what we have and what’s around us, can help us to recognise our feelings and build resilience in difficult times. Reducing time on screens and social media can help with this.

Mental health support and local community groups are available if you need support this winter, including free NHS talking therapies. Find out more about these on the steps2change Lincolnshire website. For more information about the Recovery College, please visit www.lpft.nhs.uk/recovery-college

Help us to reduce the stigma around mental health and prioritise your wellbeing this winter!

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