ADVICE FROM A LICENSED PSYCHOTHERAPIST WITH 25 YEARS EXPERIENCE
Darker days and colder nights have arrived and across the nation many will be feeling a winter-related low mood. Add to this the demands of life during a pandemic and the looming extra lockdown measures and it’s understandable why so many of us will be suffering from The Covid-19 Winter Blues. This Autumn/Winter is going to be a particularly challenging time and Psychotherapist Noel McDermott has put together the following advice on how people can boost their mood.
Noel comments: “First it’s important to remember Winter Blues are normal and do not indicate you have a serious mood disorder, but equally accept it requires some changes and interventions on your part so that it doesn’t develop into a serious problem”.
Tips on How to Beat the Covid-19 Winter Woes
Buy a SAD lamp (or a daylight bulb)…winter blues often happen because we don’t get enough daylight and it messes with the chemistry in our brains. Buying a SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lamp or a daylight bulb and exposing ourselves to it for a few hours a day is great to lift mood. If you buy a daylight bulb you can put it into your desk lamp (at work/home) and ensure you get enough daylight
Nutritional supplements…such as St John’s Wort or 5HTP are used by many people to help manage seasonal fluctuations in mood
Exercise…is the go-to in mood regulation always. It helps lift mood and makes us healthier in a global manner. Healthy body is healthy mind as they say
Talk to folk about it…again a standard go-to in mood regulation is talking with people who love you about your feelings. We get all sorts of neurological mood uplifting boosts when we emotionally connect with another person
Make sure you get enough sleep…there is a reason that sleep deprivation is officially a form of torture, it really messes you up. So, practice good sleep hygiene, cut down on stimulants, reduce lighting levels at night, stop blue screen stimulation in the evening, go to bed and get up at regular times
Eat and hydrate…eat at regular times and eat regular amounts and ensure you drink enough water. Lack of food and water leaves us distressed and it’s such an easy fix. Resist the temptation to eat to manage feelings as this leaves us psychologically distressed further
Planning for a Covid-19 Christmas
This year we have even greater challenges amongst us with many of us worried that Christmas is going to be cancelled. It looks unlikely we’ll be celebrating the sort of Christmas we’re all used to and sadly, we are unlikely to find a vaccine under the Christmas tree this year. However, Noel stresses the importance of and comments: “People should still plan for their Christmas because looking forward to something gives us a sense of positivity which we could all do with right now.”
Positive Psychology Techniques
Everyone can benefit from positive psychology techniques, have a healthy structure to your day, one that sees you eat, hydrate, rest, sleep, and work at reasonable times. Stay connected and make social times with family and friends and exercise daily. Manage your mind with techniques that allow you to challenge your thinking if it becomes unhealthy (cognitive restructuring) or how to move your mind from harmful thoughts to helpful ones (through for example meditation). Avoid panic behaviour such as stocking up which send signals to yourself that there is a big risk. By doing this we are making things seem dangerous. Develop acceptance and learn to live more in the moment, reducing your expectations (acceptance) will give you power back to your thoughts and feelings. We must get on with life as best as possible, embrace the situation and look for the positives, ask yourself, what are you grateful for? Learning how to thrive in the face of adversity will lead to positive growth from traumatic situations, helping you develop meaning and purpose and manage those feelings associated with the Winter Blues.