Winter Is Coming… And I’m Scared For My Mental Health
Winter is lovely, especially in this part of the world where a white Christmas is always a very real possibility. Yes, the pavements are almost always wet from the rain, and yes, the sky is just grey and urgh, but at night the dark streets come alive with fairylights and decorations. Every city seems like it’s trying to outdo the last, or, as is the case with London, every street seems like it’s in competition with the rest for who can be the most magical.
The cold Winter weather is the perfect excuse to wrap up in huge coats and thick, chunky knit scarves, and walk around permanently clutching something steaming hot and delicious. The dark weather makes it acceptable to spend the long nights snuggled under a fluffy blanket or two, watching trash TV, eating unhealthy food.
The other good thing about Winter is of course Christmas and the whirlwind of fun and happiness and family time that that brings. Time seems to stop still at Christmas time; most people get extra time off work and many places close down, leaving nothing to do but to spend time with each other and eat copious amounts of food until normal service resumes. Christmas is also a time for positive thinking- hope for the year ahead and being grateful for what we have.
Winter can be lovely, yes, but what if your mental health doesn’t agree?
What if you’re dreading the constant cold of the biting wind, and the feeling like you’ll never be warm again? What if the holiday season doesn’t mean togetherness for you, but it actually means loneliness? What if you can’t cope with the darkness, the sadness, the lack of motivation? If Winter doesn’t love you back, if it makes you want to hibernate until it goes away, these 6 or so months are the hardest part of every year.
This is how I feel, and I know many others can relate. I love Winter, I really do. Or at least I love the idea of Winter. I’ve never been one to be very vocal about my struggles with my mental health- either on my blog or in real life- but I think it’s time to change that. Some days I can’t pull myself out of bed, especially when it’s just so damn cold, or I don’t shower until late afternoon because I just don’t see the point. Some days I can get so irritated with people and I can’t understand the reason for my anger, which leads me to not speak to people because I just can’t cope with conversation. Other days I can’t help but cry because I’m convinced I’m not a good person and nobody wants to be around me. These used to be year-round feelings, which were only worsened by the arrival of colder seasons. Now, though, I seem to be doing okay(ish) for the most part but really struggle in the winter months. Like, really struggle.
The reason I’m telling you all of this is because I just want you to know that, if you feel this way, I get it. You’re not alone in these feelings, even if people don’t talk about it and you feel like nobody else feels this way.
You don’t even have to have been diagnosed with depression/SAD to feel this way; it’s totally normal for the cold, dark, miserable days to get you down. It’s totally normal to not like the holidays if you don’t have much in the way of family/friends. Even if you love Christmas so much you might as well be Santa Claus, it’s okay to occasionally want to stay in bed all day, or snuggle up on the sofa watching movies and ignoring all responsibilities. It’s okay to occasionally not want to eat healthily or not want to interact with people.
Winter can be lovely, but it can be a little bit shitty sometimes, y’know?
Let yourself occasionally cry for no reason. If you’re just so cold that it makes you want to cry, do it. If you’re single AF/friendless/lacking in family this Christmas and the loneliness gets you down, have a cry. If you’re none of the above but feel like crying anyway, let yourself. It’s okay.
Wrap up warm when you go outside. Even if you wear a billion layers anyway, put on an extra one. Oh, and invest in some thermals. They’re seriously cosy and they’ll make you feel better when they’re keeping you warm in the cold.
Plan some fun Wintery activities. Go to a Christmas market with your friends, plan a coffee date or ten, grab a pen and paper and plan your wrapping paper colour scheme for this year. Having something to look forward to lifts your mood no end, and making the activities winter themed can help you fall back in love with the season.
Drink lots of tea/hot chocolate. Caffeine free if it doesn’t agree with you, but seriously, tea solves everything and always makes you feel a little bit better on a cold day.
Let yourself lie in occasionally if you can. Waking up in a room that’s been lit up by the sun is a much better feeling than waking up to a screeching alarm in a dark one.
Invest in a SAD lamp. I’m yet to invest in one but I’ve heard good things about them. Even if you’ve not been diagnosed with SAD it’ll help to lift your mood.
Take a sick day from work if you need one. Obviously don’t take too many but one or two is fine. Mental illnesses are just as legit as physical ones and if you feel too bad to go into work one day you’re allowed to call in sick. Your health is important and that includes your mental health. If you feel like your boss wouldn’t understand the real reason, give an excuse if you have to, but it’s okay.
Thanks to anyone who’s still reading at this point, you’re a star! And I hope I’ve been a little bit of help to at least one of you. Remember, it’s okay if winter gets you down- even if it’s your favourite season ever. Just remember to take a little time to be kind to yourself.
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