Darker days and colder nights have arrived, and many will feel a winter-related low mood across the nation. Add to this The Cost-of-Living Crisis (COL) and the spike in household bills; it’s understandable why so many of us will suffer from winter blues.
This autumn/winter will be particularly challenging; we have put together advice on how people can boost their mood.
First, it’s important to remember winter blues are normal and do not indicate you have a serious mood disorder, but equally accept it requires some changes and interventions on your part so that it doesn’t develop into a serious problem.
Tips on how to beat the winter woes
Buy a SAD lamp (or a daylight bulb)
Winter blues often happen because we don’t get enough daylight, which messes with our brains’ chemistry. Buying a SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lamp or a daylight bulb and exposing ourselves to it for a few hours daily is excellent for lifting mood. If you buy a daylight bulb, you can put it into your desk lamp (at work/home) and ensure you get enough daylight
It is the go-to in mood regulation always. It helps lift mood and makes us healthier in a global manner. Yoga can help by stretching our bodies; we also help calm our minds – invest valuable time! A healthy body is a healthy mind, as they say
Talk to folk about it
A standard go-to in mood regulation is talking with people who love you about your feelings. When we emotionally connect with another person, we get all sorts of neurological mood-uplifting boosts. So reach out to friends and family, talk through your worries, and ask for advice – you won’t be the only one feeling like this, and a good laugh with your friends will help you feel more balanced and connected.
Make sure you get enough sleep
There is a reason that sleep deprivation is officially a form of torture; it messes you up. So, practice good sleep hygiene cut down on stimulants, reduce lighting levels at night, stop blue screen stimulation in the evening, go to bed and get up regularly.
Escaping into a new book or TV series – is a simple but effective way to unwind in a safe new world. Music is also good for the soul – create a playlist of feel-good tunes, turn it up loud and let go!
Eat and hydrate
At regular times, eat in average amounts, and ensure you drink enough water. Lack of food and water leaves us distressed, and it’s such an easy fix. Please resist the temptation to eat to manage feelings, as this leaves us psychologically distressed further.
Use nutritional supplements
Use supplements such as St John’s Wort or 5HTP to help manage seasonal fluctuations in mood.
Routine is critical
Remember, health and healthy routines are the keys to psychological well-being.
- Making big life decisions.
- They are drinking alcohol or using drugs to cope.
- You are running away from your problems.
- Listening to folk selling you simple solutions (financial or otherwise)
Positive psychology techniques
Everyone can benefit from positive psychology techniques, having a healthy structure to your day that sees you eat, hydrate, rest, sleep, and work reasonably. Stay connected and make social time with family and friends and exercise daily. Manage your mind with techniques that allow you to challenge your thinking if it becomes unhealthy (cognitive restructuring) or move your mind from harmful thoughts to helpful ones (for example, meditation).
Develop acceptance and learn to live more now; reducing your expectations (approval) will give you power back to your thoughts and feelings. We must get on with life as best as possible, embrace the situation, look for the positives, and ask ourselves, what are you grateful for? Learning to thrive in adversity will lead to positive growth from traumatic situations, helping you develop meaning and purpose and manage those feelings associated with the winter blues.
The key is to find a way to create emotional safety, remembering we can’t change the COL, but we can create a safe, dynamic space for ourselves through increased self-care, help-seeking (talking to and asking for cuddles from), loved ones and friends. Also, challenge the signals that flight, fight and freeze create, telling yourself that it’s possible to be safe emotionally at this moment.
Noel McDermott is a psychotherapist with over 25 years of experience in health, social care, and education. He has created mental health services in the independent sector.