Taking care of our mental wellness this winter

As the days grow shorter and the weather gets more miserable with rain, wind and general chilly gloom, It’s difficult not to feel like the gloomy day outside. We end up spending more time at home, more time inside and on our own. We can feel disconnected and withdrawn. For some people the festive period signifies joyous time spent with loved ones, but for others this can be the hardest time of the year, highlighting the well of loneliness that gapes in their hearts.

Being one of the busiest times of year, it can be easy to get lost in that whirlwind of energy and not spare a thought for those who may be struggling. And those who are struggling may feel totally on their own and that they have been forgotten about, only compounding their inner belief of total aloneness and despair. It’s difficult to reach out when you have fallen deeply within. Often times, when people are feeling depressed, they are good at hiding it behind a fake smile, or they just keep themselves to themselves out from view, so you may never know.

So what can we do to help ourselves and help each other?

Get outside in nature! No matter how crappy the weather, it’s exciting to experience the elements, it helps us feel alive. The simple act of getting into nature reminds us that we are part of something much bigger. That we count and we, just like all of nature, are very special, unique and have a purpose in this life.

Reach out to someone. Whether you are struggling to stay positive or feeling joyous. Someone may be so happy to hear your voice, receive a message, a card or even a call round. Think of the homeless people on the street, the elderly neighbour that can’t get out much or a relative you have not spoken to in a while. Even your most dear friends may be feeling the pressure of the season upon them. If you’re home alone, remember people haven’t forgotten about you, they are just busy. Go and be part of that business! It may take humungous effort to drag yourself out of the house, but it will make you feel better to have that human contact and a change of scenery.

Eat well and let food be thy medicine. At this time of year it’s a season to feast and be jolly and there is no harm in that, but it doesn’t mean you need to throw discipline to the wind for the entire month! Treat yourself and indulge, then draw a line under it and come back to your healthy routine to bring things back into balance before heading out to party again! Sugar, caffeine  and alcohol can pay havoc on your moods and whilst they may lift you up in the short term, they sure bring you back down with a bump again! Think green foods to alkalise the rich foods, juices and smoothies to give the digestion a break.

Take a supplement. With the lack of sunshine and time spent outdoors, we tend to lack in vitamin D which contributes to bone health, but also interestingly has an impact on our mood. So taking a Vit D supplement can certainly help. Through the winter months, I tend to suffer with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) so I take 5HTP which is a natural supplement derived from the griffonia plant and vitamin B complex every night. The 5HTP encourages the production of serotonin which is our happy hormone. Optimum serotonin levels helps us to sleep better, balances appetite and reduces anxiety. Vitamin B’s help to combat fatigue and lethargy whilst also promoting health of mental function. Its also important to get your omegas 3-6-9 in from either oily fish or flax, seeds, nuts, olives and avocados for veggies to help combat depression (amongst other great health benefits).

Change your mindset and take action. We are coming to the end of a year so it’s a perfect time to reflect back on how things went. All too often we can focus on the negative things, but there is always some beneficial learning we can take from them. And there are always positive aspects that you have overlooked, such as your achievements and the impact you had on peoples lives. Take stock of these moments of happiness and write them down. Write about the learnings you took from the challenges. Forgive yourself, forgive others. This kind of energy is toxic and harmful for you. Be daring and let go so that you can move forward in a way that makes your heart sing. If we constantly look at the negative in things, we miss the deep beauty and joy available in each and every moment. Now write down 5 things you could do to help yourself (or someone else) feel better AND THEN DO THEM!

Start your day with positive intentions. Write a gratitude list, read something inspiring or recite a positive affirmation every day. Set your intention of how you want to feel that day and breathe it into every part of your body until you feel filled up with it. It only takes 5 minutes to write down 5 things that you can feel grateful for. It might be the food you eat, the body that carries you, your health, family, nature, your home. Whatever it is, say thank you and feel deep appreciative joy running through you for that gift. My partners 6 year old daughter and I were discussing gratitude the other morning and I asked her what she was grateful for, she replied ‘well I’m grateful for life of course because we wouldn’t have anything to be grateful for if we didn’t have that!’ and in that moment, she had nailed it with such profound maturity yet total simplicity.

Life is our creation; it’s a journey that we are blessed with and we are at the drivers seat ready to take this road or that. We have a choice in every moment to decide how we want to feel and what we can do about getting there. So be empowered, take responsibility, help others and help yourselves to become the best version of you that you can possibly be and shine your light to inspire others. Be the ripple effect of love in the world and see how much better you feel.