Christmas is over. The last bauble has been packed away. A few stale mince pies are left over. The credit card bill has just hit the doormat.
January can be a bleak month. Winter seems never-ending, and after the festivities of Christmas we feel the financial pinch and the effects of over-indulgence. Many of us will experience the winter blues – and thousands of us will be suffer from Season Affective Disorder (SAD) – sometimes known as ‘winter depression’ because the symptoms are more evident during the winter.
Over ten years ago I was diagnosed with clinical depression and with the help of medication and therapy I was able to overcome my battle with this overwhelming illness. Thankfully, I am ok now, but it is hard not to feel down – especially in the cold, dark winter months. So, over the years I have learnt a few coping mechanisms that have helped me get through the winter – and I hope will help you too.
So, until next time, look after yourselves and remember – good physical health means good mental health.
1. Eat well
When you look at your plate, does the food look appetising? Eat lean meats, fish, fresh vegetables and fruits. Think colour! Make sure your plate is full of fresh, colourful foods which are rich in Vitamin D. Eat plenty of protein, cutting out sugary, starchy carbs. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid getting dehydrated – one of the perils of central heating.
Ok – so all you want to do is hibernate! Although it is important to get rest make sure you are also exercising. Do some yoga. Take a walk outside if it is bright and soak in the winter sunshine. I always play my favourite Bollywood music and Jhoom to that! Guaranteed to make me smile – and sweat!
3. Stay healthy
Catching colds during this time is very common. Wash your hands before eating, eat well, drink plenty of fluids, exercise and rest.
4. Pamper yourself
Treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure or massage. Run a bath, light some scented candles and play some relaxing music. Put a do not disturb sign on the bathroom door – let everyone know that this is your time to relax.
We lead very stressful lives – and often burn the candle at both ends. Make sure you are getting your full quota of sleep. If you can, curl up with a good book in front of a warm fire at the weekend. And, don’t feel guilty about it!
6. Dress for the weather
Dress warmly when you go out. There is nothing worse then being caught out in the rain or cold. I suffer from chilblains – itchy hell! Now I make sure my feet are warm all the time – and I even warm my socks and shoes on the radiator before I go out!
7. Dress brightly
Why is it when the weather is grey the first thing I pull out of my wardrobe is grey? If you must wear black/grey for work, add a colourful scarf or bright brooch to lift your outfit – and mood!
8. Set a goal
Making New Year’s resolutions can be a tricky business. It’s almost like we are setting ourselves up for a fall by setting difficult, unachievable goals. Instead, make sure that you set an achievable goal that you can work towards – and which will boost your confidence.
9. Take a holiday
If you can, then perhaps book your annual holiday at this time of the year. Grab some sunshine in hot sunny climes – like India – where you can also indulge in your passion for curries.
10. Get light
If there isn’t any natural light, make some up! Get some light in your house by investing in a good quality light box – and place that near your bed to wake you up in the morning or by your desk as you work. It really does make a difference.
11. Nurture relationships
Don’t stay in and wallow. If you can, go out and socialise with friends. Surround yourself with people that you love. Spend time nurturing relationships that mean something to you – and you will get back tenfold.
12. Seek help
Millions of us suffer from SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – you are not alone. Seek help from your GP or from charities such as MIND. There are people out there who can help. www.mind.org.uk
13. Learn to Meditate
Meditation is a really effective way to deal with depression, anxiety and stress. It’s very practical – no chanting, incense sticks and beads. It’s simply training the brain to BE. Try one of these simple techniques.