Dealing with shorter, darker days can be difficult, especially after soaking up the last of the summer sun and saying goodbye to your summer wardrobe. Preparing for colder nights is something that many of us struggle with. Make no mistake, the winter months bring lots to look forward to, whether that be taking some time to relax with your favourite pumpkin spiced latte, wrapping up and reading a book or preparing for, dare we mention it – Christmas.

However, for many of us, the return of the bitter weather can bring on what is commonly known as ‘The winter blues’.

The winter blues are common thoughts and feelings that are brought on by the arrival of the colder months and can be caused by less sunlight, stress around certain holidays, or even missing a loved one. It is normal to feel down, sluggish, or not quite yourself during this time. The winter blues can seem very daunting, especially if you also suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a specific depression that comes and goes throughout the different seasons. For some individuals, SAD can be severe and can have a significant impact on day-to-day activities, which is where it differs from the winter blues.

The thoughts and feelings associated with the winter blues often begin to disappear as spring approaches, when the days begin to get longer, flowers start to bloom, and positive energy makes a return.

The winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder affect over two million people each year, affecting both adults and children with symptoms consisting of:

  • Depression.
  • Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, guilt, anxiety and apathy.
  • Sleep problems (having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much).
  • Having difficulties carrying out daily tasks.
  • Change of appetite, notably craving sugary and starchy foods.
  • Tension and stress.
  • Unexplained aches and pains.
  • Feeling low and unsociable.

If you begin to feel different as winter approaches, it is important to remember, you are not alone, and PAPYRUS is here to offer support and advice if the seasonal shift is causing thoughts of suicide.

Coping strategies

There are lots of different ways to help you combat the winter blues, it is important to look after yourself and practice self-care during this time.

  • Try and keep active – whether that be going for a walk in the afternoon, attending the gym or even doing some household chores. Moving can be helpful and can support in tackling that sluggish feeling.
  • Spend time in nature – being out in the natural daylight will enhance your mood and will help you to feel close to your surroundings, why not also try to sit by a window when indoors.
  • Watch a movie – take some time to curl up on the sofa with a blanket watching your favourite film. Enjoy a hot chocolate and get some snacks of choice in.
  • Take up a new hobby – this can help to keep your mind active. This could be anything, including things such as: knitting, writing a journal, attending a local gym class or even wreath making. The important thing is to have something to focus on.
  • Talk – this sounds simple, right? But for some of us, talking can be hard work, especially if you are already not quite feeling yourself. Reach out to loved ones, friends, family or even colleagues and have a conversation. Accept invites to social events, even if you only attend for a short amount of time.

Where to go for support

If you need support during the winter months or you are concerned about a young person and would like some advice, HOPELINE247 is here. HOPELINE247 is our suicide prevention helpline that is accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It provides free confidential support for anyone under the age of 35.

HOPELINE247 can be accessed via:
  • Calling: 0800 068 4141
  • Texting; 07860 039 967
  • Emailing: pat@papyrus-uk.org
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