This year has been tough on everyone. Now, the long, dark winter nights have drawn in and weather conditions are turning poorer. It can be difficult for people working at home or self-isolating to maintain a positive mental attitude. With the uncertainty around the rules of seeing family and friends over the festive season, looking after our own mental health, as well as our staff and employees, is imperative.
Mental health awareness
If you are an employer, raise awareness of the importance of mental health with your staff. Share helpful articles and links to charities such as Mind and Mental Health UK. The more ways in which people can be aware of, and understand, their mental health and how people are affected differently, the better. We can all help each other by learning how to spot signs of suffering so we can alleviate stress and anxiety over whether these feelings are ‘normal’.
We’ve provided a few ideas for how to help you and your friends, staff, colleagues or loved ones look after their mental health this winter:
Look after yourself
Taking care of our minds and bodies will help aid our mental health. Having plenty of sleep at night, eating well, and getting out of the house and taking a walk or exercising in the open air can all improve our mental wellbeing. Sometimes a change of scenery can just be enough to boost our mood.
Embrace the weather
Although the weather outside might be frightful, having a walk in a winter wonderland can be delightful. Don a thick coat and some wellies and have a stroll, or just sit in the garden and soak up the winter sun. Sunshine on the skin creates Vitamin D, a natural mood booster. Tidying up the garden, such as clearing fallen leaves, will create a sense of achievement and help you achieve mindfulness.
Take breaks to stop yourself from feeling overwhelmed. Taking a moment to yourself and doing something fun and relaxing releases positive endorphins, helping to ease feelings of stress and anxiety.
Stay connected with loved ones
Pick up the phone and call or message friends and loved ones. It’s so important not to feel alone, even when in lockdown. Making video calls and being able to see friends and family can really help lift the spirits. You can just call for a chat or organise something fun such as a quiz or game nights. This will provide something positive to look forward to.
Think of the positives
Make a list of all you are thankful for – such as the health of yourself, partner, friends, loved ones. And remember, although things may be difficult and unsettling now, it will get better.
Seek help when needed
Always talk to someone if you are feeling stressed, anxious or lonely. It’s ok to feel like this, and knowing you are not alone can be the first step to addressing and boosting your mental health.
Celebrate the big day
Christmas for many of us is going to be quite different this year. Try not to despair if usual plans to see family and friends can’t go ahead. Make new plans, maybe even start some new traditions. Contact loved ones on the day and celebrate together, even if from afar. Video software such as Zoom makes it so easy for multiple people to join a video call, so you can all still open presents together or play games. Even just leaving it on in the background as you enjoy your own Christmas day, can help you feel less alone. And unlike when everyone is together, if it they get too much, you can always mute them!