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The change in seasons can be quite a challenge for some people. You may be excited at the thought of drinking hot chocolate in front of a nice warm fire as the nights get darker and colder. But the prospect of winter could leave you feeling less than positive.
What can I do to help manage my mental health in autumn and winter?
Acknowledge that change is inevitable
The one thing we can be certain of in life is that we will experience change, and so trying to fight or safeguard against it can at times be exhausting. This can sometimes stop you from being able to accept and cope with change. So, learning to accept change can often be more positive for your mental health, and can help
you to deal with it more proactively.
Set and keep to a schedule as much as possible
The more change that’s happening, the more important it can become to stick to a regular routine. Having some things that are predictable in your day or week can create a sense of safety, and can make you feel more in control. Planning activities that make you feel happy, connected to others, and bring a sense of achievement into your days can help to boost your mood.
Make the most of the daylight
Exposure to light is so important during the shorter daylight hours and has been shown to improve symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Be creative with
how you get more light. You could try brightening up your home environment by opening curtains and blinds, making a conscious effort to let in as much sunlight as possible. Or get outside when you can by scheduling time during your day.
Take charge of what you’re experiencing either to prevent things from getting worse, or from happening in the first place. Be proactive with your exercise and
diet by ensuring you make time for physical activity and for eating well. Exercise is known to decrease symptoms of depression and this doesn’t have to mean going out on a two-hour run. Simply walking around the block can help.
Being proactive with your diet is a good idea. When you feel low, you’re more likely to crave comforting foods that help to boost serotonin (which is lower during winter for some of us). Eating a healthy balanced diet can help to keep you feeling good.
If you’re not sure what to do that might boost your mood and mental health, it can sometimes help to keep a journal (either on paper or by using an app on your phone). Through journaling, you can pick up on any patterns emerging in regard to what makes you feel better, and what makes you feel worse.
Be kind to yourself and normalise what you are experiencing
It is normal to experience a change of mood when things in life change. We have all had an abundance of change this year. But remember, it’s how we respond to these changes that can make a difference. Try to go easy on yourself and show yourself the same kindness and compassion as you would to others.
If you consider your symptoms to have persisted for too long, or if you are finding it hard to manage or cope on your own. Speak to your friends, family or GP. Or of
you don’t feel comfortable, you can visit the Mind website for more information or call the Samaritans helpline (116 123) in confidence.