Many of us struggle with our mental health, especially at this time of year. The cold winter months and dark nights can leave some people feeling lonely, worried and anxious.
If you’re struggling with your mental health this winter, please seek help as soon as possible. There are lots of ways to support yourself or a loved one – from self-care to talking therapies to urgent crisis support.
Consultant clinical psychologist, Dr Vicky Jervis, has shared some of her top tips on how you can look after your own wellbeing this winter.
1. Get moving
Exercise has been proven to have a positive impact on mood, mental alertness and reduce stress. Just ten minutes a day is enough to make a difference. It doesn’t have to be long periods on a treadmill – walks, dancing, throwing a frisbee or even just taking the stairs counts.
2. Get talking
It’s not always easy to talk about how you’re feeling, particularly if you’ve been brought up to do the opposite. But opening up to someone not only helps relieve the distress but can also help mental health problems from developing further down the line.
Drinking as a way of handling stress, nerves, feeling down or anxious is common. Alcohol has a negative impact on your mental wellbeing, acting as a depressant and impairing natural sleep, so it’s important to monitor your intake.
4. Take a break
It could be as short as five minutes to go outside and take a breath of fresh air, a half hour workout in your front room or a whole day to yourself. It’s about the quality time invested in yourself. Guilt-free!
5. Count your achievements and strengths
It’s not easy or comfortable for most people… but it’s important we recognise our strengths and achievements (big or small). Try creating a gratitude journal or jar so that you can look back at things you have achieved over the year.
6. Ask for help
You are not at a superhero; neither is your boss, your friend, or your neighbour. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope, ask for help. Speak to a friend, a family member, a colleague or other mental health support.
7. Do things you love
Make the time for activities you love and can lose yourself in, particularly at times of stress. Learning and developing new skills can help increase our self-esteem, give us a sense of hope and purpose, and boost our resilience – so why not try something new?
8. Connect with loved ones
Connecting with others can help to reduce feelings of loneliness, and all adds up to building a sense of connection. Don’t forget, there are many video calling services out there now, which you can use to connect with others.
9. Be kind to others
Helping others can make us feel good, so it makes sense that finding a way to help someone can have a positive impact on our wellbeing. You could try volunteering or doing something for a good cause, or simply carry out one small act of kindness.
Mental health support available across our region
ARCH Recovery College
The ARCH Recovery College in Durham has a range of courses and skills sessions for people with experience of mental illness, including patients, their family, friends and healthcare staff. Join a walking group, photography session and lots more mental health sessions or workshops.
The college is based at St Margaret’s Health Centre in Durham. To find out more and enrol with the college visit www.tewv.nhs.uk/get-involved/training/arch-recovery-college
Recovery College Online
The Recovery College Online provides a range of free online educational courses and resources to people with experience of mental illness. There is information and courses for carers, young people, parents, professionals and anyone interested in mental health and wellbeing. Visit https://www.recoverycollegeonline.co.uk
Durham, Tees Valley Listening Service
The telephone listening service is available for anyone aged 18 and over living in Teesside, Durham and Darlington who needs emotional support.
The service is staffed by NHS mental health professionals, who offer a safe space to talk about whatever is causing you distress – you don’t even have to give your name. They can also give information and advice about other local services available to support you.
Call: 08000 516171
Teesside: press option 3 then option 3
Durham and Darlington: press option 1 then option 3
Talking changes is a self-help, counselling and talking therapies service designed to help anyone living in the County Durham and Darlington area to deal with common mental health problems such as stress, anxiety or depression, as well as panic phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder. Visit www.talkingchanges.org.uk
Mental Health Support Line
The telephone listening service is available for anyone aged 18 and over living in North Yorkshire, York and Selby. The 24/7 telephone line helps those who are struggling with their mental health, need emotional support and a safe space to talk. They can also give information and advice about other local services available to support you.
Call: 08000 516171
Press option 2 then option 1
IAPT – improving access to psychological therapies
IAPT is a talking therapies service that helps people living in North Yorkshire, York and Selby to deal with common mental health problems such as stress, anxiety or depression, as well as panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder. To find out more visit www.yorkandselbyiapt.co.uk or www.northyorkshireiapt.co.uk
Find out what mental health support is available to you at www.tewv.nhs.uk/services/mental-health-support