10 Tips to Overcome the Winter Blues
10 Tips to Overcome the Winter Blues
OK so it's only the start of Autumn but many people in the UK are already beginning to complain that it’s gone cold and wet, the nights are drawing in and that Winter is almost here. Ofcourse that is fact but at the same time not only are we dealing with a global pandemic, rocketing coronavirus cases, associated restrictions and lockdowns, we’re also facing the possibility of an increasingly unpopular hard Brexit, more mass redundancies at the end of the furlough scheme, and an economic recession.
Even before the onset of Covid-19, statistics from the Health and Safety Executive in 2018/19 cited work related stress as accounting for 44% of ill health at work with 12.8 million days lost to depression, anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders. Add to this mix the rise in incidences of burnout and screen fatigue due to the major increase in remote working. Additionally, one in three people in the UK suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD syndrome, which is a form of depression brought on by the onset of the dark nights and cold weather during the Winter months. As I’ve been saying for a number of weeks, we’re heading in to a potential perfect storm this Winter and it’s no wonder many people are already feeling gloomy and apprehensive.
But enough of all the doom, here are 10 basic, common-sense tips to try in order to help beat the Winter Blues:
1. Even though we are surrounded with negativity in the media, practise seeing the positives in what you do have and in the changing seasons, for example, the beautiful Autumnal colours, the frosty mornings, the chance to sit in front of an open fire. As John Keats wrote, Autumn is the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ and there is still plenty to enjoy outside if you slow down and take the time to look.
2. During lockdown and through the long Winter months, cracks can appear in family relationships as partners and siblings are cooped up together longer than normal, so work on increasing and improving your levels of Communication to avoid disputes. Calmly explain how you feel and how the behaviour of others impacts you, then discuss and agree what needs to change.
3. Spend time dealing with your Negative Voice or Inner Critic when it starts nagging you for putting on so much weight during lockdown or not being focused in your Job Search. Remember that you wouldn’t criticise someone else as much as you do yourself so try to replace your negative thoughts with more positive affirmations, statements or mantras, such as ‘I CAN do this. I WILL get another job. I WILL eat a healthy, balanced diet.'
4. Each day unplug your phone and/or turn off notifications for a certain amount of time if you can to give your mind a rest from the constant interruption of alerts and social media updates. Unplug from Facebook and Instagram for specific times during the day too and spend that time concentrating on your own plans, rather than wishing you were someone else or somewhere else; then you’re more likely to achieve your aims and be more satisfied and happier.
5. Manage your Stress by wrapping up warm, and getting out in to nature, as fresh air and exercise are proven mood boosters. Try to get outside as much as you can as fresh air and daylight also improve sleep, which is key to maintaining a good mood and healthy immune system.
6. If you feel that you may be struggling with Seasonal Adjustment Disorder seek professional help and/or you may benefit from investing in light therapy with a special lamp called a light box which you can use for up to an hour a day - they're great for long, dull days when you're remote working.
7. If exercising in the frost or rain doesn’t work for you, then work out at home or download an exercise app. The key is to find something that works for you and that you can fit in to your schedule.
8. Focus on a new project, whether it’s decorating the spare room, learning a new language or the guitar, or taking up yoga!
9. Control what you can control, which definitely is not the news or social media, so limit your exposure to the doom and gloom, but keep up to date with important information from the reliable newsfeeds. Concentrate on controlling your own attitude, thoughts and actions and not worrying about what everyone else is doing or saying. Practising meditation can also help.
10. Decide what you want or need to change and what you want to have achieved by the end of the Winter, whether at work or at home, so that you can start working on your goals and improvements. Do something positive to change your attitude. The more committed you are to make changes, the more you will accomplish, and by Spring you’ll be proud of what you’ve achieved.
Undeniably these are very challenging times but remember that nothing lasts forever, so no matter how bad things seem right now, chances are they will improve. Talking to a trustworthy friend, taking little steps to solve problems and using practical coping techniques can make you feel like you are making progress, achieving something and you can start to become more positive and resilient.
Good luck, stay warm, stay positive, stay safe!