The days are getting colder and shorter. Winter is on its way, so what do we do to combat those ‘winter blues’? Karen Meager and John McLachlan have five tips to help you embrace the change in season.
With the nights drawing in and the summer holidays seeming like a distant memory, it is with no surprise that people start to feel down and anxious about the months ahead. Around 2 million people in the UK experience the ‘winter blues’ each year1, and so we have compiled five tips on how to rid these feelings to lead a happy, stress-free winter period and leave you feeling refreshed when spring comes around.
- Understand the symptoms
The majority of the time when we feel stressed or anxious, we don’t realise it. People around us may pick up on our low mood, but more often than not, we will ignore the comments and go on feeling down. The most prominent symptom of stress and anxiety is the inability to maintain a happy mood, instead feeling irritated and angered at simple things. Your relationships between colleagues and family members are also likely to suffer, whilst your motivation to do well fades.
- Ensure your working environment is as stress-free as possible
Perhaps sit away from those who have a negative impact on your mood, or turn off your emails for an hour to concentrate on a single job. Although some of these things will be out of your control, where possible, it can also be a good idea to take part in training and extra courses to develop your skills. This will give you something to focus on, whilst also providing you with a sense of satisfaction.
- Get a good night’s sleep
Having a bad nights’ sleep will put anyone in a bad mood, but if you are feeling anxious or down, it is likely to heighten these feelings. We are sure everyone has laid awake in bed for hours going over and over thoughts about work or relationships that worry you, and then you end up feeling more stressed because you can’t sleep. It’s a vicious circle.
Something that we have come across time after time that appears to work for people is having a notebook on your bedside table, that you use to write down any troubling thoughts and tell yourself you will revisit them in the morning. Another step is to get yourself into a routine of calming down before bed. This involves not doing any exercise or looking over your work emails to stimulate your brain.
- Watch your diet
Surprisingly, what you eat can have an effect on your mood. Regularly consuming takeaways, sweets and large quantities of alcohol can often be mistaken for being relaxing and comforting, however they actually make you feel sluggish and tired. It is always a good idea to seek out the healthier alternatives to make yourself feel better after a busy day.
- Be proactive, don’t just sit back and wait for change to happen
It is very easy for us to not take account for the changes that need to happen and instead just sit back and wait for things to change by themselves, but believe it or not, this doesn’t happen! Having a busy schedule and having a productive schedule are two very different things. You can easily think you are being proactive and productive but actually you are just filling your days with meaningless tasks, rather than a few, simple tasks that will take you forwards with where you want to be. When ridding your winter blues, it’s important to slow down to speed up, and clear your mind in order to make better decisions.
About the authors: Karen Meager and John McLachlan are the co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training (www.monkeypuzzletraining.co.uk) and co-authors of Time Mastery: Banish Time Management Forever. Karen and John take the latest scientific and academic thinking and make it useable in everyday life. Both have successful business backgrounds spanning 20 years, are clinically qualified in psychotherapy and hypnotherapy. They are two of only a handful of NLP Master Trainers in the UK.