Keeping Mentally Healthy As The Days Get Darker

The days are getting colder and the evenings are getting shorter. As well as dealing with the stresses that have come up in the last few months living in a pandemic, the reduction of sunlight can have a very real impact on your mental health.

Here are a few tips to make the winter months a bit easier, happier, and more mentally healthy for you.

Give yourself a break

It can be all too easy to try to bat away the thoughts, telling yourself you don’t have time for that, or to compare yourself to others who seem to be coping better. However, by doing this, you’re putting more pressure on yourself than is necessary.

It has been a tough year. Even if you haven’t been directly impacted by the pandemic, the stress of it being in the environment around us has hit everyone. Take a minute to admit that you’re not having the best time and that right now, and that’s alright.

Vitamin D supplements

In Ireland, we are unlikely to receive enough Vitamin D from everyday life during winter months. We are too far north to receive adequate Vitamin D through sunlight on our skin. We’re far more likely to be bundled up in layers in the winter too, which won’t allow the Vitamin D in.

Deficiency in Vitamin D can lead to an increased likelihood of illness, as it impacts the immune system, as well as causing fatigue and mood changes. While some Vitamin D can be ingested through your diet, from foods like oily fish, egg yolks and fortified foods including cereals and milk, Vitamin D3 supplements are available as a top-up in pharmacies.

Use a sun lamp

The reduction in daylight hours can also impact your mood greatly. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that occurs in the autumn/winter months as the reduction in sunlight can cause serotonin levels to drop.

One remedy that is widely recommended is the use of a sun lamp to artificially increase the amount of light your body receives to increase serotonin levels. Using these lamps for even short periods during the day can have a positive impact on your mood.

Getting outside for a walk

Despite the weather not being ideal in the winter months, it is important to get outside when it’s not raining. Try to get as much natural light in as possible. A lunchtime walk with a fun podcast is a great way of keeping mentally healthy and to take a break from everything around you.

Know that help is out there

If you are struggling with your mental health, it is important to know that help is available. Talk to your GP. Give the Aware helpline a call on 1800 80 48 48 or call the Samaritans on 116123. The Samaritans also have a very useful self-care app which can be downloaded from the App Store/Google Play Store. Always know that you are not alone, and help is available.

Lisa Ryan

Lisa Ryan is a Cork Mammy of one boy, age six. Fueled by Diet Coke and the brief intervals there's an empty laundry basket, often talking about mental health.

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