Dark days and cold weather can badly dent our mood. For some it’s feeling cheesed-off and low-spirited, but for others it manifests as Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D), which causes symptoms of anxiety, hopelessness, irritability and fatigue and affects one in fifteen people in the UK. So how can Mindfulness make a difference?
Mindfulness means acceptance of whatever is happening in the present moment. This helps us to build resilience and deal with whatever is happening in our lives without being overwhelmed. We stay present and turn towards any unpleasant feelings with non-judgmental awareness and drop our expectations that life “should” be a certain way. So:‘change how you see, and see how you change’.
Don’t focus on what is lacking over the winter– choose to see its gifts. A New Year opens the door for self-reflection, and the slower pace brings with it an opportunity to rest and take stock. A conscious change in perspective, if we practice it often enough, can change our lives.
Mindfulness helps us to understand and embrace the impermanence of life. When we stay mindfully engaged in every moment, with whatever is arising in our thoughts, feelings and experiences – we see that change is the nature of all things. Understanding the truth of impermanence can benefit us in moments of low mood, as it helps us to realise that these feelings, like the winter, will eventually pass.
Make a daily or weekly gratitude list. From warm drinks and clothing, to the simple fact of having a bed to sleep in at night – there are countless things to be grateful for over the winter months. We can use gratitude as a buffer against negative attitudes by appreciating the good things in life and taking the time to savour them.
Finally, since mindfulness goes hand-in-hand with self-compassion, adopting a regular self-care practice over the winter months can also help to remedy a low mood. Ask yourself what can you do to make yourself feel good? Nurturing habits, such as long walks outdoors, warm baths and nourishing meals can all take the edge off feelings of anxiety and depression.