The winter months can put an extra strain on our mental health, as the days grow darker, and we become busy on the lead up to the school holidays. With this in mind, we have put together some wellbeing tips for supporting our mental health, and children during the winter months.
Connecting with others can help create a greater sense of belonging, and aid in reducing feelings of loneliness.
- Talk to someone instead of sending an email
- Talk to your colleagues in the staff room, and really try to listen and be present.
- Put five minutes aside to talk to someone on the phone rather than texting.
- Give a colleague a lift to work or share the journey home with them.
- Finding opportunities for children to see their friends and family over the school holidays
- Finding activities to do together, like building snowmen, board games, sitting by a warm fire, going on a walk and giving them opportunities to talk.
As the afternoons grow darker it can feel hard to go outside, but fresh air, natural light and exercise is still important for our mental health. If you can, encourage your child to venture outside, wrapping up to keep warm. Spending time outdoors can help limit screen time, give some valuable time in the light. Going outdoors around midday or spending extra time outside on bright days can provide some colour, light and smells that remind us of brighter days.
Ideas for being active during the winter:
- Take the stairs instead of the lift if you can
- Go for a walk at lunchtime, as this will also
- Walk some of your journey to work/school if possible
- Organise an activity for work or school that is active, such as a photo scavenger hunt, dancing or yoga.
- Have a kick-about with your child in the garden, or in a park.
- Walk to a colleagues desk instead of emailing, this can also give you an opportunity to connect.
Research has shown that being aware of the present can enhance well-being and reminding yourself to be in ‘the moment’ helps people to reassess their priorities in life, and make choices that align with their values
Ideas for taking notice during the winter:
- Prioritise some time for decluttering and cleaning the spaces around you.
- One day, take a different route when you are walking to work or to school
- Visit a new place for a walk, or for lunch.
- have an 'indoor picnic' with your family or friends
- Have some 'phone free' time during the day or evening
- the time coming up to New Year is a great opportunity to reflect on the past year, and look forwards to the year ahead. Think about what you have enjoyed the most from this year, and what you are most looking forward to, or if there is anything you would like to do next year?
Learning new skills can encourage social interaction and help to build self-esteem. As the nights grow darker, and the days feel shorter, try to focus on some of the positives, including some extra time in the evenings for new hobbies, or even rekindling old ones.
Ideas for learning during the winter:
- Learning a new recipe, or teaching a favourite recipe to your children
- Reading a new book, or sharing a book you love with your children
- Listening to audiobooks together
- Crosswords or Sudoku
- Learning how to knit, craft, or do something creative. Being creative is a good way for people to express their thoughts and feelings. You could use music, poetry, dance or photography to name a few.
According to Mind, individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy, and research has shown that an increase in acts of kindness correlates with an increase in overall wellbeing. Giving during the winter months is not limited to increasing the gifts given during the holidays. Given the increased pressures on all families, especially this year, we are looking beyond gift giving for alternative ways we can help others. Childrens Health Scotland asked Children and Young People (CYP) how they can give to their families and community, and they came up with ideas that have influenced this list
Ideas for giving during winter:
- Making time to play video games with my siblings
- Sending home made Christmas cards
- Making a Spotify playlist for my friends
- Doing some cleaning for my parents
- Keeping my room clean and tidy
- Going on a litter pick with the family while on a walk
- Smiling at everyone I see
- Volunteering time at a local charity
- Donating unused toys and clothes