Winter Lockdown: A Mental Health Guide

A mental health guide for winter lockdowns. A series of tips termed The Supportive Six that can help you to manage your mental health this winter.

Winter Lockdown: A Mental Health Guide

The typical dark nights of winter may feel a little darker now there are restrictions and lockdowns in place. We continue to experience a reduction in contact, travel and face to face interactions.

There is no "one size fits all" for this kind of thing. We will all make our way through it according to what works best for us. However, there are a few common themes that help a lot of people.

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Winter Lockdown: A Mental Health Guide

1. Lighting

You may have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression, which is commonly referred to as 'the winter blues'. It's a common occurrence around autumn-winter time when the light levels reduce. Thankfully, we know how to treat this; with light.

If you are feeling a low mood during the winter lockdown period, it's a good idea to get as much light into your day as early as possible. Obviously, the sun rises later in the day, but as soon as it's out, give yourself some time to bask in it. If this isn't an option, you can also check out SAD lights (also known as light boxes) which is an artificial light that can also help.

2. Exercise

We already know how good exercise can be for our mental health and this holds true during a winter lockdown. It can be something as simple as walking, or connecting with nature.

Regardless of what you choose, there's a good chance you will feel the benefit of:

Which all translate to an improved mood!

3. Routines

When we're not in a winter lockdown, most of us stick to a routine. It's a good idea to try and stick to a routine through this period too. Having a regular bed time and wake up time can help with the quality of your sleep, including exercise at regular points during the week can help to improve your mood and making time for yourself to relax can help to reduce any anxiety or stress you are feeling.

4. Relaxation

During the winter lockdown, you may be feeling more anxious than normal. That's why it's important to find time for your needs. Whether it's taking a long bath, listening to music or practising yoga, whatever helps you to feel relaxed should be included in your routine.

Here are some ideas that we know help reduce anxiety and increase relaxation:

5. Connection

It won't replace the normal connection we have, but finding ways to connect virtually or at a distance can still help your mental health. Staying connected is vital during a winter lockdown, whether that's with your colleagues, friends or family, the important thing is you are still there for each other.

If you do feel anxious, or that you need help, you should reach out as soon as possible, instead of allowing the anxiety to build up internally.

6. Less News

The news seems particularly negative at the moment, as there is endless coverage of COVID-19. Of course, being informed is a good thing. However, sometimes it's nice to take a break from the news and social media. This can allow you to free up some time for yourself to relax, or to exercise (or maybe exercise helps you to relax).

If you do want to see the news, try to only use credible sources such as the World Health Organisation or a government website. Social media can be full of speculation about the virus, which doesn't help us to manage our anxiety because of the uncertainty it brings.

Another thing you can do is limit the amount of time you read/watch the news. For example, you may limit yourself to 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening.

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If you are still feeling anxious, or would like to learn more about anxiety, you can also try Stresscoach.