Managing your mental health at any time of year is pretty rough, but as days get shorter and shorter, and the weather gets colder and colder, a lot of us are left struggling more and more than usual. It's at this time of year that I actually start feeling thankful that I do shift work, rather than a regular 9-5 job, because I'm not stuck in that routine of going to work and coming home from work in the dark. It's not always been that way however, and I doubt it will always be in the future.
Self-care is a massive massive part of how I managed to hit the road to recovery from self harm. I find that even if my self-care routines start to slip, there's a definite impact on the way I'm feeling. So I guess this post is really my way of calling out to everyone that's struggling during Winter too to say 'Hey, love yourself'. And that's a pretty big task I know. I don't think I'm there yet, but self-care is linked to self-love. Recognising that you need a bit of TLC, and that dedicating time to yourself is necessary is really important, and if you're thinking that you don't need it, or don't deserve, then this post is a reminder that you are worth that self-care and self love.
I recently published a post on 28 ways to turn around a bad day, and this was all about little ways to care for yourself to make things better. So I'm not going to be listing things you can do to help in this post as well.
I think that self-care in winter months has to undergo a shift. Summer is all about body positivity, embracing the rays and gaining new experiences. But do you know what? It's hard to focus on a strict diet or eat salads every day when it's just so damn cold. And you're not expected to. At all. Body positivity is harder because you cover up all the time, it's harder to exercise, and especially hard to say no to gorgeous warming stews and hearty meals in the evening. And again, this is all totally okay. It's so important to remember that. I find it really hard to consider myself a 'normal' size during these months, because I'm always fluffed up like a toasty marshmallow in my fluffy dressing gown and bed socks, or smothered in layers of scarves and bobble hats. But I'm learning to embrace my inner (and outer) marshmallow, and love the fact that I'm just so cosy in those clothes.
The darkness of winter makes everything harder, for me at least. Your body just does not want to wake up before daylight. It's not natural. This is made doubly hard when your mental health says 'no' too. But, I've really found that artificial light helps. Getting a lumie light is basically my dream, but for the time being me and my boyfriend have a SAD lamp and a dim lamp in our bedroom. Turning these on in the morning a little while before we have to get out of bed really helps to make it feel as though the day has started. Having the SAD lamp on in the evening is also a winner, as it helps boost your vitamin levels without you really noticing it's there.
Thankfully winter is not forever (although I'm glad the festive season is here to stay for a little bit), but in the time being there are so many things you can do to help give your mental health self-care a little boost. I always find that taking time out to switch off is the way forward, and LUSH's collection of festive bath bombs genuinely helps with this. I mean, if I'm going to use a special bath bomb then I've got to spend a reasonable time in the bath, right? Think about what your favourite thing to do in your spare time is, and take a bit of time out of each day to do it. Even if it feels non-productive, or you've got a to-do list the length of your arm, your self-care is always the most important thing to spend time on. I've been having a rough couple of days, so I've currently got an entire kitchen worth of mess, three pets' cages to clean out, bed sheets to change and about five loads of washing to do. But, tonight I wasn't feeling up to it, so it's sticking around until tomorrow. Or the day after. And that's okay.
This post was mostly a bit of a friendly reminder that it's important to focus on you during these months, and it's okay to feel selfish, or unproductive because of it. Having a rubbish time in terms of your mental health is awful, and I hope some of this advice was helpful; this post was a fab reminder to myself of why I keep up a self-care routine and take time out even when things get busy.