Ideas to help us keep our minds healthy in coming months

Torbay Weekly

A passion for wellbeing with Katie Webber:

The nights are starting to draw in, and the colours in our beautiful landscape are changing.

The onset of autumn, and before long winter, and the cycle continues again.

The author Richard Bach said: “We teach best what we most need to learn.”

This week’s column is written as much for me as for anyone who might be reading it.

Some of the most common mental illnesses, specifically depression, are proven to worsen at this time of the year.

Here are just a few ideas that might help all of us to keep our minds healthy and hopeful in the coming months:

Fresh air is your friend:

Try to spend at least a little time during daylight hours in the fresh air each day. I know this isn’t always easy, especially if you work in an office or if it’s cold and raining, but even if it’s just a walk around the block at lunch time, and even if you end up rather wet, the combined benefits of a shot of vitamin D and a surge of endorphins will be worth it.

Hibernation is for bears, not humans:

Don’t hide away from the world, especially if you live alone. Post lockdown, it’s still tempting to stay distanced from others but with precautions in place, it’s so much better for our mental health to get out and about and be around others. Joining a sports or creative club, or a trip to your local, which doesn’t have to involve alcohol, could result in laughter - always the best medicine. Pubs, so often the hub of any community, need our support to survive, so there’s an added incentive.

A bit of culture can be inspirational:

I’m the first to admit that I would have struggled without the TV over the past 18 months but there’s nothing like the experience of sharing a story with a big group of people. Theatres and cinemas are open again and, like pubs, need our support more than ever.

Winter cooking can be as healthy as it is hearty:

It’s tempting to exist on roasts and stodgy puddings in the colder months, and these can have their place, of course, but there are also a myriad of healthy, vegetable-based one-pot options that can be bulk cooked and frozen for those frosty nights when you’re too tired to do much more than heat something up. I recommend researching recipes by Nina Olsson and Melissa Hemsley for inspiration. Porridge for breakfast is also a winning, warming plan.

Try to make this year the one you truly embrace the real meaning of Christmas:

It’s so easy to say this, then get caught up in the stress inducing mayhem of gift lists and menu plans. Having had to cancel Christmas lunch with my family last year, I intend to fully embrace the more simple meaning of it all this December. Making gifts is also a great way to fill those long winter nights, and there is a wealth of inspiration available online.

These are just a few ideas to help us all enjoy what can be difficult months.

Above all, I believe that acknowledging that ill health, both mental and physical, can be more prevalent at this time of year, looking out for signs of it, reaching out to those we know are alone or susceptible and being as kind to ourselves and the people and world around us as we can will help us all to navigate what can be a stormy passage in the journey through any year.

There are more ideas to help you stay well on my website: I wish you a peaceful, healthy and joyful week ahead.