As we roll into October and Autumn/Winter is upon us, some of us feel a sense of dread – me included.
I am normally on countdown until Christmas day, excited for everything Christmas brings – socialising, cosy nights in, hibernating indoors and all of the food. But this year feels different. It makes me feel uneasy going into these months of colder weather, darker mornings and shorter days.
I think it stems from me linking my start of my ‘anxiety journey’ with winter, it was when I first started to feel the weight of it following a bout of flu and then struggling undiagnosed through numerous tests and a high dose of beta blockers.
I started to feel I was improving when spring arrived and with it, my diagnosis and beginning to understand what my mind and body needs. I found gardening and was able to be outdoors, morning jogs in the warmth, yoga in my garden, feeling the sun on my skin and generally feeling the ease that summer seems to bring to our mood and mind. When I think of winter, I think of being trapped in my bed, trapped in my mind and in my anxiety.
I know I am not the only one who feels the winter blues, and whilst I was thinking of ways I can combat my own worries – I thought I would jot down some ways that I am going to try and fight the blues.
Make a playlist to lift you out of your dreary days
I love making playlists on Spotify. I can spend hours in a Spotify vortex, discovering old and new favourites. I am currently making an Autumn playlist with songs that give me a boost and make me want to dance around the house! Have fun with it, and on the days when the blues really hit, put the volume up and have a dance – it does wonders for the mood!
Force yourself to head outside whatever the weather
I think most of us glance outside at a drizzly day and think ‘nope!’. I know heading outside is the last thing we feel like doing on those days but when you have been in work all day indoors, into your car and then into your house – you’re not getting hardly any fresh air which can be a real trigger for our low mood. However brief, try getting outside. If it’s your commute, your lunch break or a walk after work – you will feel the benefit.
I recently planned to go for a walk and it was drizzling but I still went and it actually was so refreshing and changed my outlook on only venturing for walks on nice days. There is something so healing about connecting with nature, whatever the weather, so wrap up and force yourself outside even through the rain, snow and wind!
Make plans with friends and family
This may seem obvious to many of you, but I know myself in the Winter months I tend to retreat a little, opting for cosy nights in and Netflix than making the effort to make plans and leave the comfort of your home. Make sure you still make plans, even if it’s once a week. It’s easy to unintentionally isolate ourselves and this can be really damaging on our mood. We also may think we are socialising through social media (see this previous post) but it doesn’t replace real quality time in person with our support group of loved ones. I know when I see my family, my friends, I come away feeling encouraged and inspired. Make plans even if it’s just hanging out as each other’s homes or grabbing a coffee. Myself and one of my friends have already made a pact that we won’t hide away through the Winter even if we are desperate to!!
Avoid cabin fever
After a long stint staying safe at home, I have started to take my laptop or book and head to a local coffee shop alone. When cabin fever hits now, I make sure I don’t dwell in it and take myself to a different location and it resets my mood completely.
Take up a project or new hobby
There is no time like the winter months to start a project of some kind. Whether that’s a huge house de-clutter, re-decorating, or perhaps starting a gallery wall. Last winter on a particularly low day, I had just lost my job and was feeling very down in the dumps, me and my partner decided to start a pallet wood project. We got pallets, broke them down, painted and sanded them and then attached to our hallway wall. It was something we had been thinking of doing but in Summer you don’t want to be indoors all the time doing time consuming projects. But in Winter, it’s perfect timing as it feels productive and gives you a sense of achievement.
Also look at taking up an indoor hobby of some kind. I personally love crafts, I am always looking for new things I can make! I have recently done a post on Weaving, which is a new favourite. I also love making macramé plant hangers. This blog was an idea to fill my summer gardening gap through the Winter months and it’s something I now love doing and will continue. Whatever you fancy – have a go and see your mood improve!
Create an indoor garden
I imagine by now you will know about my slight plant obsession and our indoor jungle.
I love that our home keeps a little bit of summer even in the darkest months of winter. Our banana leaf plants, trailing pothos, towering palms, cacti collection and spiky yuccas – they feel so green and calming when outside there is only bare branches and fallen leaves outside. Try getting a few leafy friends if you haven’t already and surround yourself with a bit of Summer in Winter!
Photography and finding the beauty in the imperfection
I love taking my camera out, and the more I learn about photography, the more my eyes are opened by the beauty around us. So often we open our eyes more to Spring and Summer, the flowering seasons, the obvious beauty and perfect landscapes. But learn to see the beauty in the imperfections, of one season ending and another starting. I find taking my camera out (or your phone if you don’t own a camera) to snap what is around you makes you see the beauty in the whole year – not just the sunny months. White skies, moody clouds, cold nights with bright stars, bare branches twisting into shapes, silhouettes and shadows, an earlier golden hour making everything a beautiful hue. I always find my mind being distracted when I am looking around me for inspiration of what to shoot and it takes me miles away from my blues.
Get lost in a book
We are all allowed those days to rest and to hibernate a little but instead of feeling blue, get lost in someone else’s narrative by reading an enjoyable book. I love reading and I can completly absorbed by a good book and it takes me away from any troubles I feel.
Healthy Food and Exercise
This isn’t to diet or restrict yourself of anything but more about being mindful of giving your body nutritional goodness alongside the inevitable boxes of Roses! Winter is always going to bring those Netflix nights and grabbing of the biscuit tin with a hot cuppa – but we run the risk of feeling sluggish and that in turn can make us feel a bit low. Having a good balance of winter treats, but also filling up on some goodness along the way to make our bodies feel nourished throughout winter without denying ourselves a selection box (or two!).
Also try and exercise. I struggle with forcing myself outside when it’s miserable outside and running in the colder temperatures can give me a bit of a head cold. If you have access to a gym then that’s perfect, but otherwise try some indoor exercises. I personally love Yoga and find it one of the best forms of exercises. Try incorporating some kind of exercise into your day, keeping your body moving and feeling active still throughout the winter months.
Give yourself a boost with a pamper and feeling your best
I love baths all year round, but in winter they really do feel the best! Light candles, pour in the bubble bath (Tip: Sainsbury’s own brand 60p bubble bath produces THE best bubbles!), and have a good old fashioned pamper. If I feel low, I sometimes reset my day by having a bath, or if you don’t have a bath – have a hot steamy shower.
Now I am a self-confessed clothes addict, (though this year I have really had to curb my spends in that department!) but clothes always make me feel good. I love putting an outfit together that feels very me and it always makes me feel ready for the day. By setting yourself up for the day, you feel your world really is your oyster and that you want to spend it doing something and not wallowing in the darkness of Winter and PJs.
I hope this post helps anyone who feels the blues around this time of year, and be free to add any tips you may have for fighting anxiety around the winter months in the comments!