Looking after your mental health this winter

January is thought to be a tough time of the year for many, we use the expression ‘January Blues’ for a reason.

With winter now upon us and a new national lockdown, many of us might be feeling a little lower than usual and you most definitely won’t be alone in doing so.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has had consequences on the lives of us all. The disruptions to our daily routines and loss of ‘normality’ has led to many of us feeling an increase in anxiety, loneliness and depression.

As well as a demand in hospital services, there has been an increase in demand for mental health services across the country. The president of the Royal College of Psychiatrics, Adrien James, recently announced that “the pandemic poses the greatest threat to mental health in the UK since the Second World War.”

There has also been reports from the Office for National Statistics revealing an increase in the rate of depression with “one in five people appearing to have depressive symptoms compared with one in ten before the pandemic.”

Now we are in the third national lockdown, how do we stay on top of our mental health? The first lockdowns were hard enough and now the implications from the new lockdown combined with the ‘winter blues’ are a concern for many.

Tips for looking after your mental health

Practice gratitude – in a time like this it can be easy to focus on what we are missing out on. Instead of thinking about what you don’t have, think about what you do have and what you are grateful for. Practicing gratitude has been proven to boost happiness.

Move your body – exercise has an abundance of positive effects on you physically and mentally. There are so many different ways you can exercise, from running to yoga. You don’t need any special equipment or gear, a simple walk and stretching counts just as much as a strenuous workout in the gym. If you need some inspiration, there are millions of videos to follow on YouTube covering all kinds of fitness. Yoga with Adrienne and The Body Coach are popular places to start.

Get outside – nature has been proven to have positive impacts on us mentally. And what better way to enjoy some nature than combining it with daily exercise. Just remember to follow the government guidelines when leaving your home. You can find more information on this here.

Learn something new – whether it’s taking up a new hobby or doing an online course, learning something new can be a fantastic way to boost your mood. You’ll also be able to come out of lockdown having learnt a new skill and achieving something positive from the time. You can find free courses on Open University and if you’re looking for a new hobby, YouTube is a great place to look for free tutorials.

Show someone you care – luckily, we live in a time where we are able to reach one another with the touch of a button and at this point, we should all be professionals when it comes to video calls! Make sure you find time to talk to loved ones. Haven’t spoken to someone in a while? Why don’t you reach out to them to ask how they are feeling? You just might make their day.

Selfcare – this might look different for everyone, for some it might be lighting some candles and running a bath, for others it might be reading a book or cooking a meal. Whatever it is for you, make sure you find some time for yourself. It’s important to remember that for us to be able to look after others, we need to look after ourselves.

And lastly, if you are concerned for your own mental health or for someone else, please don’t be afraid to reach out for support. You can find information for mental health services here.

Take care,

The TFA Team.