I was talking to an acquaintance the other day when I realised we were having THAT conversation…the one that begins: “I don’t know where the year has gone!” And it’s true – 2019 has gone by in a flash! Summer, Halloween, Bonfire Night and then BOOM! It’s over.

For some people, the nights drawing in and cold, crisp, frosty mornings signifies that party season is just on the horizon. Holiday time spent with family and friends is just around the corner and a new year may signify a chance for new beginnings and opportunities.

But to others, it may conjure up different thoughts and feelings. For some, it may trigger unhappy memories, or it may be a very stressful time – having to contend with the demands of a lack of time, resources and other people. Some may feel overwhelmed, have high expectations of what they consider to be the “perfect holiday time”. For many, it can be a lonely time of year, with some experiencing the perception that everyone else is surrounded by family and friends, having fun, when they are not.

Unfortunately, the holiday season falls in the depths of the British winter. For some, this may lead to suffering from S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder) – “a depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern” (NHS, 2018). This is often linked to reduced exposure to sunlight, causing the brain to change hormone production, which in turn affects our moods.

Sufferers often indicate having:

  • A loss of pleasure for activities they usually enjoy
  • Feeling sleepy, lethargic and a general lack of energy
  • Feeling irritable or tearful
  • Crave carbohydrate heavy food – I for one notice an increase in my chocolate consumption, and that’s before Christmas Day!

If you notice any of these changes within yourself, it’s advisable to speak to your GP, who could carry out an assessment to determine the cause.

Lifestyle changes, light therapy, talking therapies (Counselling) and anti-depressants may be suitable treatments, however, everyone is different. It’s a good idea to consider all of the options.

Furthermore, there are some ways that we can all help ourselves to “feel better” at this time of year…actually, all of the year round!

My top 5 tips for self-care are:

  1. Find a quiet place for 5 minutes – if feeling overwhelmed by a situation, it’s perfectly OK to remove yourself from it for a while.
  2. Take deep breaths – in for the count of 4, out for the count of 4, repeated 3 times can reset your breathing.
  3. Take a note of your surroundings – take a minute to notice what’s going on around you; sights, smells and sounds. Is there anything that grabs your attention? Can you focus on this for a little while?
  4. Take a body scan – notice any sensations you might being experiencing, from the head down, or from your toes up.
  5. Identify what you’re feeling, without passing any judgement. Although feelings can be painful in the moment, these will eventually pass.

I hope these few tips can be of help, not only during the winter months, but throughout the entire year, and for years to come!