Our Community Correspondent Marilena explores the impact of ‘bad’ weather on our mental wellbeing, providing encouragement and practical tips for dealing with the physical and emotional challenges which winter brings.In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
― Albert Camus
Every season has its own personality, unique to each country. Usually places like the UK, that are far away from the equator, experience a less pleasant Autumn and Winter and sunny days are less common. Consequently, lack of sunshine, and bad habits that sometimes go hand in hand with it, might affect our mood negatively.
Often we believe that we are unfortunate because we live in a climate that rainy and cold weather are predominant. We might think that ‘bad’ weather unavoidably goes along with ‘bad’ mood, we might think. Thinking about warm counties that face an almost eternal spring can make us feel jealous.
However, we often forget that good weather sometimes comes along with and bad conditions such as tornados, hurricanes and bushfires. Additionally, judging from my experience, people who enjoy almost always sunny weather rarely go to parks or take advantage of it. Also, let’s not forget that the increased hours of sunlight we experience in spring and summer can affect our whole system, and not always in a positive way. It is also a lot harder to concentrate when the weather is nice and people tend to throw our good winter habits out of the window such as sleeping early!
Most people, including me , prefer warmer climates and may be naturally inclined to exposure to sunshine. That does not mean we cannot enjoy the drizzle, snow and the falling leaves that come with colder weather. The most important thing is not the weather itself. Our mindset, and how constructively we use our days, changes everything about how we respond to each season. Being grateful for the weather we experience, and proactive in order to adapt to it successfully, is essential for everyone in all countries.
During all seasons, one needs to keep a positive mindset and also keep up good habits and self-care activities such as giving time for activities we enjoy, having a healthy routing and asking for help when needed.
Autumn, or sweater weather season, is the time when people tend not to go out into nature quite so much, but it is also the season of falling leaves, of scary Halloween costumes and pumpkins. Although the sun shines less, Autumn comes along with the urge to get cosy and pamper oneself. One mistake that I often experience is that I sometimes get overwhelmed by the lack of sunshine and I stay at home.
I have found that it is often better to force myself to go out for some fresh air and light than not. It helps to lift my mood and get my vitamin D. I also try to stick with my good habits, like sleeping early and working out. Other mistakes I have observed in others are that they tend to drink less water, take less breaks, and often drink and eat more.
Winter is not that different to Autumn because of the climate change. The temperatures are lower and sometimes it snows (which is lovely when it is not getting dangerous!). It is time for winter sports and indoors dances and other activities. My main problem with winter, my least favorite season, is that the hours of sun are far less. It is the time that most people with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) are severely affected. If you feel that your mental health is significantly affected, you should always contact your doctor or therapist.
My strategy for surviving winter is to communicate effectively with others, even when not going out, preferably in person and through social media – not as simple as it might seem! I also try to be grateful for what I am experiencing. As I said, winter is not my favorite season, but each year I try to embrace it more.
Now I would like you to ask yourself:
- Do I think I am unfortunate because I live in a climate that rain and cold are predominant?
- Do I believe that ‘bad’ weather unavoidably goes along with ‘bad’ mood?
- How often do I intentionally get exposure to to the sun?
- What action do I take in order to have a stable mental health when the cold season comes?
- Can I identify triggers that come along with cold season?
- What are my unhelpful winter habits and how could I change them?