With the winter coming, it’s well worth thinking about how you’re going to spend the long, cold nights. For many people, winter can be an extremely challenging season, physically, mentally, and emotionally – and winter challenges in 2020 may well be harder than many others. If our opportunities to meet up indoors are curtailed by the need to control the spread of the Coronavirus, then this season could be an isolated, and difficult one indeed. This is on top of the annual challenges of flu season and Seasonal Affective Disorder.
If you’re feeling concerned at the approach of the cold weather and long winter nights, then one thing you can do is make plans for how to fill them. If you have projects to look forward to this winter challenges in 2020, getting through it to the hopefully more normal Spring will seem more achievable.
For generations, the winter was a time to focus on craft work. With no crops growing, it was a time to focus on making and repairing clothes, creating decorations or making gifts. While we’re less likely to make our own clothes – or substantially repair them with needle and thread – it’s still well worth practicing with your embroidery craft kits this winter.
Many people find practising craft skills is a good way to support their mental health – making things for yourself is very satisfying, especially if your day to day job is more abstract or digital. Seeing for yourself the results of the effort you put in, and your growing skill in a physical object you can use or display is a pleasure we get less often in modern life.
Some people also find that the focus and concentration craft skills require puts them in a similar frame of mind to mindfulness meditation. This is a technique that the mental health and wellness communities have found very useful in building mental resilience.
One of the reasons we feel sluggish or even depressed in the winter is the low light levels and short days. This disrupts our brain chemistry – being in bright light suppresses the production of melatonin, which can make us sleepy. If it doesn’t get very bright for very long, you produce more melatonin than usual and feel more tired.
Using a SAD lamp – one that replicates the wavelengths of natural light can help here. It doesn’t just provide bright light – it provides bright light that tricks your brain into thinking it’s in natural sunlight. A good SAD lamp can wake you up with a forged dawn, or extend daylight hours well past sunsight, helping you feel more alert!
Seeing a Doctor
In some cases, low mood can tip into clinical depression. If you’re worried about your mental health this winter, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Whether the right answer for you is therapy, medication or a mix of several solutions, you shouldn’t delay finding it.