Oh my good Lord! Is it really September again? Is it almost Hallowe- IS IT ALMOST CHRISTMAS?!
For the majority of us, Christmas and the winter months coincide with drinking Hot Chocolate, getting cosy and buying all of those cute sweaters from PLT. It’s a lovely time of year where you feel like everyone is buzzing about decorating a tree or a gingerbread house.
For someone with depression or anxiety, it can be a scary time of year. And I don’t say that in relation to it being Halloween and all that jazz; it’s to do with the darker mornings, the cold and sometimes the loneliness. Getting yourself out of bed on a day when you really, really can’t can be a challenge in itself. And people without a mental health condition struggle equally with this. But when it’s dark and cold- and the only hours of sunshine are when you are in an office, ploughing along every day- it amps the difficulty rating tenfold. You want to go to work and come home from work and just go to bed to escape everything you are feeling, which means you’re hardly seeing people anyways. Then, when your friends start going back home for Christmas, and if you are in a situation where you have no surrounding family, it can be an incredibly lonely and isolating time for some.
Now, I’m not saying that December and the months leading up to it are dreadful and that I hate it- far from that. I absolutely love Christmas. I love going to Christmas markets and Winter Wonderland, and I love layering my clothes (as lame as that sounds, I love a good scarf). But I also get a bit blue during this time.
When I was teaching, the second September hit and I knew it was a new term, I was drained at the thought of it. Just thinking about the assessments, and the books to mark, and teaching when it’s dark outside is beyond depressing. The kids are in no mood to learn, and you’re finding that not only do you have to motivate 32 children who couldn’t give a crap about the enzymes in your large intestine…but you’re also having to motivate yourself: to get out of bed, to fuel your body, to do all those things you have to do to stay ticking over- never mind do your actual job, whatever that is.
Good news for us – it isn’t all that bad. I have decided that this year I am going to make a real effort to do things that make me feel better. See, the worst thing about depression or anxiety is that you have little room for effort. You really are tired and drained all the time. And when the ‘winter blues’ or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) creeps around, it can make even things like getting out of bed a real chore.
So here is a list of things that I found can really help me and my mood when it comes around to that magical time of year:
1) Make plans with friends
This sounds like such a simple plan. And it is. But it’s effective and it works every time. The moments when you don’t want to drag yourself out of bed, or you want to jump back into it straight after work because it’s been a hard day- invite a friend over. Make yourself make time for this. I promise you will feel better!
2) Find a routine
Honestly, routine is my God send. I am not in one right now and I bloody wish I was. The days when I would have a plan for my morning and evening, including what I drank and doing some yoga before bed…it gives you something to do and it weirdly helps with things like mindfulness. Try it!
3) FUEL yourself!
Oh my laaawwwd I am the worst for this. Drink some hot water and fresh lemon and ditch some of the caffeine. Drink 2 litres of water a day. Eat fruit and veg. If you fuel yourself with nice food you will have nice thoughts. Promise.
4) Don’t overthink
I mean, I do this all the time. When I’m sat there watching a film with my mum and Christmas is a week away, I’m already getting sad at thinking Christmas is almost over. I’m already overthinking some talk I had with someone where I think I said something and they took it the wrong way. ENJOY this time with friends and family!!! Stay in the moment and take things, quite literally, a day at a time!
I know. I used to hate it too. And if I’m honest, I have fallen so out of love with fitness- it’s a joke. I used to have abs. It’s all very sad.
But there is no time like the present. I can vouch for the fact that fitness makes you feel GOOD. And I know there is nothing worse than waking up an hour earlier and going to the gym, or dragging yourself out in the cold. But if that hour or even 15 minute walk is going to help me with having a more positive outlook on the day – why am I depriving myself of that?
It’s never too late to change your routine or change your outlook. Just because you have a mental health condition, it doesn’t mean that you have to keep feeling this rubbish all the time. Yes, there will be times when you feel low and nothing with help. But I really believe that these small steps do help with the big changes.
Now hopefully…you have the time to get into the swing of it before the dark nights and dark mornings start to really settle in. Look after yourself please.
Lots of love,