Autumn is well and truly here and as the animals gather up their supplies for the winter months ahead we’re all going into hibernation early! (Lockdown…). I don’t know about you but I don’t feel as ready for this lockdown as maybe I should - We could see it coming and have all the experience of lockdown number 1 to know how we personally handle it, so there shouldn’t be any surprises... However, a lot of us generally feel a bit lower over the Winter due to there being less sunlight, so the prospect of that combined with being told to stay indoors and not socialise, can feel a bit overwhelming.
So how to bulletproof yourself for the month of lockdown ahead and the Winter, as well as the unknown surprises that Corona Virus may have in store for us? Here are some tips to help keep your mental health in good shape this Winter:
Stick to a routine and set some goals.
If your normal routine has changed due to this lockdown, it’s important not to allow the days to merge. Plan your days and the week ahead so that you know what you’d like to achieve and how you’re going to get there. Every time you achieve a task, your brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that generates feelings of satisfaction and happiness. This makes you feel good and also sets you up for achieving more.
2. Include as much outside exercise as possible.
Getting as much sun and exercise as you can in the winter will help your body to produce endorphins that make you feel good and melatonin that helps your circadian rhythm which can help keep depression at bay. Even just 30 minutes of outside exercise a day can make a big difference*.
At the end of each day, choose 3 things that you saw or experienced that you are grateful for. Try to find different things each day and write them down. Doing this everyday trains your brain to look for and notice these nice things throughout the day, which enhances our mood generally. You might find it quickly becomes difficult to choose just 3!
If you think that you need some more help with your mood over this lockdown period, send me a message to arrange a free phone consultation. I’ve been working over Zoom since the first lockdown so there’s no need to wait - how much better will the Christmas period look once you’re feeling yourself again?
Ref: * Rosenthal NE. Winter blues: everything you need to know to beat seasonal affective disorder. New York, NY: Guilford Press; 2006.