Positive mental health is an essential part of your wellbeing, especially during these cold dark winter days.
We can achieve positive mental health by overcoming stress, realising our potential, working effectively and giving back.However, during the winter months we can all experience hardship and ill mental health. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that can occur during the darker months. Here are a few steps to help to combat negative feelings and keep that warm feeling all winter through to spring:
If you’re feeling a bit lost and nothing is going right, try to force yourself to think positively. Write down a list of the good things that have happened over the past month. This can be difficult at times but give it a try – it really does help! Repeat positive thoughts three times to reinforce them in your head and say them out loud or into a mirror too.
Remember to stretch
A great way to face a dark winter’s day! Stretching will loosen muscles and regulate blood flow so you will be able to take on whatever the weather throws at you. Even if it’s 10 minutes in the morning or at lunchtime. Making the time to get up and move will help both body and mind.
Focus on your breath
Change how you feel by focusing on your breath. Emotions and breathing are very closely connected. When we are cold we tend to hold our breath, or take short breaths. Try to regulate your breathing to calm controlled breaths. Take a long deep breath in, to the count of 4 and then slowly breath out to the count of 6. Do this 3 or 4 times and notice how much calmer you feel.
Make time to exercise
Don’t let those dark mornings or nights put you off your exercise. If you’re not a gym bunny, that’s fine, wrap up warm and take a lunchtime walk instead. Walk briskly and feel the air entering your lungs. Make this part of your routine so you don’t even have to think about going.
Eating healthy is certainly easier said than done through winter. Our bodies crave warm, starchy foods, as we try and layer up our fat reserves to cope with the winter months.Try to think of food as fuel all year round. Focusing on energy boosting foods, such as nuts, seeds, beans and wholemeal pasta.
Look after your immune system and try warming foods during the winter months like soups and stews. Make sure your plate is full of different coloured foods. Limit caffeine, alcohol and smoking. Even a small amount of quality dark chocolate is a great mood enhancer.
Stay hydrated and drink lots of water to help combat any viruses you may be exposed to and flush out germs. This will also prevent you from over eating and will keep your immune system in great health too!
Lack of energy and fatigue can be due to interrupted sleep patterns. Try and form a routine around sleep, hit the sack at the same time each night, make sure that your bedroom is nice and dark and try not to use digital devices at least a few hours before bed. Have a warming herbal tea or turmeric drink before resting down for the night.
Instead of focusing on the negatives, try being grateful for the small things you have or the people around you. Start listing things you’re grateful for, and do this each evening or morning when you wake. This can only have a positive outcome and I believe the more you’re thankful for, the more you receive back in life.
List your goals
Make a list of goals you would like to accomplish – big and small. It could be a list to be completed in the next month or even by next year, then break these down into small achievable, daily steps. If you can just do one per day, it’ll give you that sense of achievement and accomplishment each day.
Dani is the current MsWorldwide and focuses on helping others with positive body health and body image over at: Twitter @dani_masterson