How to stay well in winter
Studying away from home? Remember to register with a GP
Don’t leave it until you get ill! If you’ve moved away to University, you need to register now with a GP close to your student accommodation so you can access health care and advice.
If you have a teenager studying away from home make sure they have registered with a GP practice near their Uni so they can access health care should they need it.
Doctor Finder – NHS – Together We Can (togetherwe-can.com)
Seasonal Saviours: How to look after your mind during winter
Many of us find our mood takes a dip during the winter time. Maybe you’re sick of the bad weather and the fact it’s still getting dark really early – or the pressure of work or uni has started to take its toll. Whatever you may be struggling with, it’s important to do simple things to look after yourself.
Some people find they struggle with this time of year more than others, this is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of depression that comes and goes with the change in seasons. It’s particularly common during winter – most likely due to the colder and darker weather, but some people can be affected during the summer months.
Signs of SAD are pretty similar to depression and can include symptoms like low mood, disrupted sleep and a disinterest in things you’d usually enjoy.
Whether you’ve been struggling with SAD or just feel a bit ropey right now, here are some tips to help you keep the winter blues at bay.
Low mood can be linked to low levels of natural light, which explains why lots of people feel worse during winter. Some people find that using a special light box or lamp can help, but even just making the most of the daytime by spending time outside can make a huge difference.
The saying goes that you never regret a workout, but it can be tough to drag yourself to the gym or go for that run when it’s cold and wet outside – so don’t sweat it if you can’t face it.
Even some light exercise like a stroll through the park or some yoga with friends can be enough to release those endorphins. Universities run free wellbeing activities and sports sessions too. Check out your university’s website to see what they offer.
Talk it out
With deadlines to meet, exams looming and all the other stresses that come at this time of year – if you’re feeling low, overwhelmed or struggling with your thoughts the chances are, you’re not alone. Talking to someone close to you (in however much detail you’re comfortable with) can really help to alleviate the pressure – particularly if they’re in the same boat. Plus, if you let people know how you’re feeling, it’ll be easier for them to support you.
The endless dilemma of what to eat for dinner can feel even more of a challenge if you’re not feeling your best, especially when the thought of hibernation is much more appealing. If you know you struggle with your mental health at certain times or you can see a busy couple of days approaching, why not prepare some meals in advance to make it easier for future you.
Everything can seem like so much more effort when you’re feeling low. Especially if you have lots of plans and feel like you need to put on a brave face and pretend that everything’s fine. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first and rearrange things if you don’t feel up to it. Or if you’re still up for seeing people, you could opt for a chilled activity like watching a film or grabbing a coffee.
Stick to a sleep schedule
It’s easy to fall out of your routine when your mental health isn’t great, but not sleeping enough (or too much) can make you feel worse. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule can really help improve your mood, increase energy levels and boost productivity.
A funny podcast, a new playlist or your favourite film – distracting your mind with things you love can be a simple, yet effective way of improving your mood during the dreary winter months.
Find details of local services: Mental health – NHS – Together We Can (togetherwe-can.com)
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a technique you can learn which involves noticing what’s happening in the present moment, without judgement. You might take notice and be aware of your mind, body or surroundings. The technique has roots in Buddhism and meditation, but you don’t have to be spiritual, or have any particular beliefs, to try it.
Mindfulness aims to help you:
- become more self-aware
- feel calmer and less stressed
- feel more able to choose how to respond to your thoughts and feelings
- cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts
- be kinder towards yourself.
Many people find practising mindfulness helps them manage their day-to-day wellbeing, but it doesn’t always work for everyone. For more information, on whether mindfulness is right for you.
How to relax | 8 relaxation tips for your mental health – YouTube
Mental health support if you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBTQ+)
Mental health problems such as depression or self-harm can affect any of us, but they’re more common among people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT).
This may be linked to LGBT people’s experience of discrimination, homophobia or transphobia, bullying, social isolation, or rejection because of their sexuality.
Help for mental health problems if you’re LGBTQ – NHS (www.nhs.uk)