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https://insideDIO.blog.gov.uk/2020/12/07/banish-winter-blues-over-the-festive-season/

Banish winter blues over the festive season

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Mental health, Working at DIO
On a white background are Scrabble-style tiles reading Mental Health. In the top right corner is a green leaf.
Mental health is very important and maintaining mental health has been challenging for many in 2020.

Winter is upon us, which means a drop in temperatures, shorter days, less sunlight and darker nights. We may sleep for longer, feel sluggish and find the simplest tasks difficult to complete.

We’re also dealing with the continued impact of COVID-19 and the extended lockdown restrictions may have caused additional strain on our mental health. This combined with the change of season can affect our mental health, so it’s important that we make it a priority.

What we’ve done at DIO recently

We’ve supported our colleagues by running online mental health coffee and chat sessions which have been attended by over 750 people. At a virtual conference, members of my team talked about their own personal stories and what they’ve learned along the way. Our wellbeing team constantly communicate resources around mental health to our staff. Various project teams across DIO are also ensuring that their teams have time to have a Christmas celebration together, even if it is online or socially distanced. We’ve also held virtual mental health awareness sessions to ensure people know how they can look after themselves and help others.

Top tips to help banish the winter blues

As DIO’s wellbeing champion, I’d like to share some tips to help you keep your spirits up during the festive period this year.

Plan ahead

If you celebrate Christmas, avoid unnecessary stress by planning as much as you can beforehand. This includes planning Christmas dinner and gifts early. Make sure you take some time to relax over Christmas too, whether it’s reading a book or watching festive movies. For me it’s taking some time to slow down, spend time with family and friends and helping people out with things they need doing (amateur DIY-ing!).

Get your body moving

A brisk 10-minute walk in the daylight or a run outside can help to lift your mood. So, wrap up, get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. There’s also lots of free workouts that you can try out at home. I take a walk in the countryside near my home daily which has helped to boost my mental and physical health.

Connect with others

Sometimes we may not feel like talking to people, but connecting with others and talking through things that are worrying you can be really helpful. Not seeing loved ones can also have a negative impact but thanks to modern technology it’s easy to stay in touch. Schedule regular catch-ups or some time to carry out fun social activities. Social time spent virtually with my loved ones has made me feel connected, supported and reminded me that people are thinking of me. Christmas is also a good time to get in touch with people you may not speak to often. At DIO, our teams are planning their own Christmas socials but this time virtually, wearing the obligatory silly jumpers and having themed quizzes.

Eat healthily

Your diet can make a big difference to the way you feel. Improving your diet can help to improve your mood and help you feel energised. The festive season is upon us and it’s easy to indulge in lots of sweet treats and alcohol which can leave you feeling irritated. Balance your cravings with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables daily to help boost your immune system.

Do something you enjoy

Making time in the day to do something you enjoy gives you something to look forward to. Take some time out to create Christmas cards, decorate your Christmas tree, read or even learn a new skill.

Ask for help

The biggest lesson I’ve taken from this year is the importance of having someone to talk to if things are getting tough. Hopefully you can talk openly and safely to your colleagues, friends or family. Even then, if you are still struggling, there are plenty of resources available to help you. Mind, the Mental Health Foundation and Heads Together offer some great advice to help you look after your wellbeing during winter.

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