how to look after your well-being this winter
Winter – a groan fest for all of us. The joy of summer has been left behind and we’re in a repetitive cycle of waking up in the dark, going to work in the dark, and finishing the day in the dark. And just as soon as you start to get used to it, the clocks go back and disrupt your circadian rhythm, leaving you down in the dumps. Not to mention concerns about heating homes, keeping the lights on, and high energy bills, which instils unease in most of us as winter approaches.
It raises the question: how do you look after your well-being this winter?
I asked members of the tdm team how they ensure their moods are uplifted in the winter season. Initially, our own Dan Harrington replied, “Just take a good umbrella wherever you go” but we dug a little deeper and got some great, helpful responses. Most shared similar ideas, mentioning exercise, getting out in the sun where possible and staying sociable. Despite the miserable weather winter is certain to bring, staying committed and being proactive is important to many of the tdm group. We’ll be reminding them that they said this on a cold, wet Monday morning in January.
But here are some of the tdm team responses summed up:
If you can, try and do some regular physical activity during this winter season. Dedicating a little bit of time to moving our bodies helps lift our mood and increase our energy levels. Now, we’re not saying wake up at 06:30 and smash out a 10km run, that would be incredibly unrealistic. However, getting outside, making the most of the natural light, and topping up your vitamin D where possible is important. Physical activity doesn’t have to be too strenuous either, try walking, yoga, gardening, or even if you’re not ready to embrace the cold, at-home YouTube workouts or housework.
Maintaining social support systems and connecting with your family and friends strengthens your sense of community and gives you a network of people to call on when you’re feeling low. It can be hard to reach out when you’re not feeling well, but talking to someone who understands can help you overcome your low mood. So, say yes to group activities, engage with your colleagues, and don’t be a Grinch this Christmas!
fuel your body
It’s cold, it’s dark, and you don’t feel like moving from the warmth of your sofa to the kitchen to prepare dinner, what’s better than your favourite takeaway? It’s common to crave comfort food during the colder months. Give me all the carbs! However, whilst heavier dishes may be more tempting this time of year, fuelling your body with a good helping of fruit and vegetables supports your immune system in the cold and flu season. Try homemade, healthier versions of your favourite dishes, or invite friends and family around for warm lunches. Don’t forget to stay hydrated too! (And we don’t mean at the pub).
relax and unwind
Don’t feel pressured to constantly stay active, socialise, or eat 5 a day. The most important factor to your well-being this winter is to not be too hard on yourself. Remember to relax, breathe, light a candle, run a warm bath, read a book – whatever you like to do, take the time to do it. Beth at tdm said she makes her “environment cosier and inviting when it’s cold and dark outside with candles, fairy lights and blankets”, what could be more stress-free than that?
If you are struggling with your mental health and wellbeing this winter, then please know you are not alone. We have signposted some brilliant charities below that are free to reach out to for help:
Call NHS 111 (for when you need help but are not in immediate danger)
Samaritans: To talk about anything that is upsetting you, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit some branches in person. You can also call the Samaritans Welsh Language Line on 0808 164 0123 (7pm–11pm every day).