Darker days and colder nights have arrived and across the nation many will be feeling a winter-related low mood. Add to this The Cost-of-Living Crisis (COL) and the spike in household bills, it’s understandable why so many of us will be suffering from Winter Blues. This Autumn/Winter is going to be a particularly challenging time and Psychotherapist Noel McDermott has put together the following advice on how people can boost their mood.
Noel comments: “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 and it messes with the chemistry in our brains. Buying a SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lamp or a daylight bulb and exposing ourselves to it for a few hours a day is great to lift mood. If you buy a daylight bulb you can put it into your desk lamp (at work/home) and ensure you get enough daylight
- Exercise…is the go-to in mood regulation always. It helps lift mood and makes us healthier in a global manner. Yoga can really help, by stretching our bodies we also help calm our minds – invest in valuable you time! Healthy body is healthy mind as they say
- Talk to folk about it…again a standard go-to in mood regulation is talking with people who love you about your feelings. We get all sorts of neurological mood uplifting boosts when we emotionally connect with another person. 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 really 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 at regular times
- Escapism – escape into a new book or TV series – this is a simple but effective way to unwind into 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…eat at regular times and eat regular amounts and ensure you drink enough water. Lack of food and water leaves us distressed and it’s such an easy fix. Resist the temptation to eat to manage feelings as this leaves us psychologically distressed further
- Nutritional supplements…such as St John’s Wort or 5HTP are used by many people to help manage seasonal fluctuations in mood
- Routine is key – remember health and healthy routines are the key to psychological wellbeing
- Making big life decisions
- Drinking alcohol or use drugs to cope
- 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, have a healthy structure to your day, one that sees you eat, hydrate, rest, sleep, and work at reasonable times. Stay connected and make social times 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 how to move your mind from harmful thoughts to helpful ones (through for example meditation). Develop acceptance and learn to live more in the moment, reducing your expectations (acceptance) will give you power back to your thoughts and feelings. We must get on with life as best as possible, embrace the situation and look for the positives, ask yourself, what are you grateful for? Learning how to thrive in the face of 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 emotional 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 in this moment it’s possible to be safe emotionally.
Noel McDermott is a Psychotherapist with over 25 years’ experience in health, social care, and education. He has created unique, mental health services in the independent sector. Noel’s company offer at-home mental health care and will source, identify and co-ordinate personalised care teams for the individual – www.noelcdermott.net.