Winter wellbeing

Tips and advice for staying well during the winter months

The Christmas period can be a time of celebration for family and friends. However, many people find it challenging. Domestic problems and financial stresses, along with issues in work, can often seem particularly challenging when the weather turns colder and the days grow shorter.

Take seasonal affective disorder (SAD), for example. The symptoms of SAD are similar to depression but they only come on at certain times of the year. It can make the arrival of autumn and winter very difficult. For some, the condition’s just annoying. Others experience severe bouts of SAD, which have a significant impact on their day-to-day lives. Even if you aren’t affected by this condition, it’s really important to look after your wellbeing over the course of the winter months.

In spite of chilly weather, you can follow our simple winter wellbeing steps and stay well:

Stay connected

Try and make an effort to meet up with friends and family. Lots of people are off work and there’s no better time to re-connect with those around you. The festive season is also at its best when we’re looking out for each other. Loneliness and isolation often emerge as subjects of concern at this time of the year. The impact of poverty and deprivation also becomes more acute.

By checking in on older neighbours or volunteering with local charities and food banks, you can contribute to making things easier and more hopeful for those in your community. Read more about loneliness and isolation by clicking this link.  

Be kind to yourself

It’s ok to prioritise your own wellbeing at Christmas. If you can, switch off from work. Think about what you need and what you need to do to get it. How you can make Christmas and New Year meaningful for yourself? If you’re worried about feeling lonely or isolated this Christmas, think of some ways to help pass the time. Do something creative or spend time in nature. Try to plan something nice to do after Christmas. Having something to look forward to next year could make a real difference to your mental health.

Be active, be healthy

Yes, it’s cold out but, provided we wrap up warm, we can get active in the great outdoors. Choose a change of scenery by going for a jog or taking a daily walk at lunch or in the evening. Breathing in the fresh, crisp air and enjoying the sights and sounds of winter keep your mind sharp for January. If you stay well over the holidays, your transition back to work life should be much less of a jolt to the system.

Also, it’s always a good idea to drink sensibly at Christmas. Why not opt for a soft drink or a non-alcoholic beverage when you can? You can find out more about alcohol-related issues here.

Make plans

Winter can be a very busy time, especially in the run-up to Christmas. Whether you’re dealing with professional or family-related issues, this time can feel overwhelming. From a pre-holiday work deadline to a big family Christmas, it will all go more smoothly for everyone if tasks are shared and people pull together. Think about what might be difficult about for you and if there’s anything that might help you cope, and consider whether you really need to do certain things if you’re not looking forward to them. You could maybe do them differently or quicker.

Plan ahead and avoid taking on more than you can handle: don’t be afraid to say “No” or ask for assistance from friends and friends. If you need more information, have a look at the stress, anxiety and family resources in the ‘Mental Health Information’ section of the Community Wellbeing website.

Get some sleep

Sleep and mood are inextricably linked. Good sleep keeps us on top form. It’s central to our physical and emotional health. Sleep is one of the most crucial parts of our wellbeing. When we sleep, our brains and bodies rest and recharge. It improves our focus, concentration and immune system, which is particularly important when we’re prone to contracting viruses in the winter months. The Community Wellbeing hub is home to very helpful resources relating to rest. Have a look if you feel like you want to learn more.

Relate NI have some great resources on their Relieve the Pressure campaign including information on Coping with Christmas. Read more here. 

 

 

Remember, if you are concerned about your mental health – or the mental health of someone else – speak to your GP.