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Managing our Mental Health in Winter

*Some tips to help you manage your mental health during the Winter months*

Winter can be a challenging time for a lot of people and some really do struggle more at this time of year. For some people it is a time when Seasonal Affective Disorder shows itself and life becomes a lot more difficult. This post will not focus on SAD but just some general tips for those who find Winter a little bit more difficult. It could be that Christmas is a hard time or a range of other life issues come up.

With that said there are still some things we can do to stay well.

We can:

1. Reach Out - plan some activities with friends throughout the month, just to get yourself out of the house, even if it is just a walk in the woods with a friend. This will stop you becoming isolated. 2. Try Something New - although it can be very scary for some of us to try something new. Along with getting out and meeting new people, it can really brighten up Winter to try something different like a new fun hobby like a new exercise class if our regular sport has ceased for the Winter, or try something fun like ice skating or something seasonal that you can only do in Winter. As kids we would just get out and explore as we had not developed so many biases, maybe it is about ignoring them and seeing the good.

3. Have Gratitude - it may not feel great to be back at work or going and coming home in the dark , but some people do enjoy getting back into routine and getting refocused and having structure. By finding things in our lives we are grateful for, we allow ourselves happiness. For example, if you find Christmas hard you might just be grateful and appreciative that it is not here yet. If you are very busy you might not have stopped to appreciate all the good things that happen during Christmas or have happened throughout the year, now might be the time to reflect and be thankful

4. Use Lunchtimes To Get Out - leave the office during your lunchtime as leaving for work and coming home in the dark can lower your mood. If you have a 1hr lunch try to meet a friend, get out for a walk of plan something to break the monotony of the day and let yourself get some fresh air away from your desk. Adding in some evening exercise if you cannot do this during the day to release stress, meet others and get out can also help. 5. Change Your Perspective - we can see Winter as doom and gloom or as a place to rest and reset/ restart; to begin planning and having space to do all the things we love to do, start looking ahead and thinking of all the lovely places we can go. is great for booking trips with free cancellation on most hotels which can be cancelled. Importantly though, it really feels fun and like you are taking action and looking forward. Also a lot of hotels are cheaper in January so a little treat could be on the cards to get you through the month.This helps us to not just focus on Christmas but having fun all year.

6. Help Others - this helps us to take our minds off our own needs by being part of something bigger, helping out and giving back as volunteers or helping local charities, we meet others, contribute and take our minds off our own difficulties.It also helps us to focus on what Christmas is actually about, not getting caught up in the presents but actually spending time and attention on others.

7. Focus On Your Strengths - not on the areas you feel you need to FIX in your life for 2022. See this as a blank slate, you have the power to create and put into action with your strengths all the things you would like to achieve, not just FIX yourself. Check out the Myers Briggs personality test to see what your strengths are

8.Spend time with the people you really love and care for. Acknowledge what you are struggling with.

Christmas in particular brings a whole host of different people together and for some it can bring up a lot of our struggles. For example if you are struggling financially this can be exasperated, if you are having issues with fertility and longing for a child while family and children and santa pictures are everywhere, it can feel like there is nowhere to hide. So plan for this, make sure to spend it with those you feel safest and most secure around, or plan to

get away from it all for a while. But do try to take action and look after yourself as best you can, however it is that you do!

9. Go With The Flow Of Life - Like all seasons, months, years and days Winter will come and go. It is not constant and just like the end ends and becomes day, winter will soon become spring so if we just accept it, soon it will pass.

10. Go easy on the booze and narcotics.

For some people this is a mainstay part of Christmas tradition but it also feeds into our own self hatred come January and makes it much more difficult to get ourselves back on track. Having a balanced approach and enjoying ourself, who doesn't want to have fun but not overdoing it as this will greatly affect our mental health as our bodies try to recover from over indulgence in all areas.

So try to see the bigger picture here with everything over these next few weeks and go easy on yourself, it has been a tough 2 years and we are all tired. Maybe use these months to rest, relax, renew and reset for the year ahead. Particuarly if you find it hard this time of year.

Le grá,

Donna X


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