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Look after your mental health this Autumn/Winter

Autumn is a beautiful season. The trees change colour and it is the perfect time for making a hot chocolate and lighting a warm fire. For many people though, the ending of those warm summer days and beginning of long dark nights creates a sense of dread. This year, winter may bring additional worries such as the unstable economic climate, cost of living crisis and concerns about global conflicts. Maintaining good mental health can significantly increase your ability to cope with life’s challenges and uncertainty.

Make your mental health a priority. The Autumn/Winter well-being tips below may help.

1. Stay connected with family and friends as much as possible. Reaching out to and supporting others, can significantly improve your own mood.

2. Make time to exercise. Being physically active is not only a great way to improve your physical health and fitness but it also helps to enhance mental well-being. Taking part in regular physical exercise can reduce stress and increase self-esteem. Even just 10 minutes of brisk walking per day, can increase energy and improve mental alertness.

3. Make time for some “me time” each week, perhaps indulge yourself in a bubble bath, settle down and read good book or listen to a guided relaxation recording.

4. Get plenty of rest and sleep. National guidelines advise that healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours sleep per night.

5. Stick to a healthy diet, whilst this won’t necessarily prevent you from picking up those routine winter illnesses such as coughs or colds, maintaining a healthy immune system can better protect you.

6. Avoid places or people who may have a negative effect on you and remember that it is ok to say no if something appears too overwhelming.

7. Set boundaries around the use of social media and technology. Giving yourself of a break from social media has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of low mood and protect mental health.

8. Practice mindfulness perhaps through yoga or meditation. This is a fantastic way to pay attention to the present moment and become aware of your thoughts and feelings, making them easier to manage.

9. Consider keeping a gratitude and achievement journal. Recognising those things which you are grateful for and reflecting on your achievements, can provide a lift on those days when you most need it.

10. Be kind to yourself, celebrate small successes and be less self-critical. Not everything has to be perfect!

Most importantly you need support do not be afraid to seek help. This is not a sign of weakness in fact quite the opposite, reaching out for help shows strength and bravery.

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