University of Gloucestershire expert shares how to stay positive this winter

As the nights get darker now that the clocks have gone back, Dr Kerry Rees — a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Gloucestershire — shares some simple ways to boost wellbeing this winter.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
From getting wrapped up in a cosy blanket with a book to surrounding yourself in nature, Dr Kerry Rees from the University of Gloucestershire shares some winter wellbeing tips.

Boosting your mood during winter can be tough, when it's common to feel tired, lethargic and less motivated as the evenings get darker and the temperature drops.

To help combat low moods, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Gloucestershire, Dr Kerry Rees, is sharing some simple ways to take care of your wellbeing during the colder months. 

Rees suggests taking a deeper look at your mindset and perceptions, trying to keep a focus on the positives. How we frame events that happen to us or challenges we face influences how we react to them, so reframing cold, dark nights as a great opportunity to light some candles, wrap up in a warm blanket and get cosy indoors could help us feel more positive about the season. 

Pulling out the holiday snaps or watching a movie set in sunnier climes can help bring some summer sunshine back while we wait for warmer weather to return. Trying to think of a positive thought for every negative one that creeps into your head can help bring balance when you're feeling low. 

While the clocks changing can wreak havoc with your circadian rhythm and make it harder to get out of bed in the morning, which in turn can affect your mood and energy levels throughout the day, maintaining a routine — especially at bedtime — can really help you stay in control. 

Feeling in control is particularly important for anxiety sufferers, so it also helps to plan for events ahead, especially as the hectic nature of the festive season sets in. Plus, planning fun activities with friends such as movie nights, dinner dates or sports fixtures can be a great way to give you something to look forward to. 

Getting active is a wonderful way to boost your mood, too. Just going outside for a walk is great — with walking somewhere in nature being an especially helpful way to get all the mood-boosting benefits of natural light, fresh air and beautiful surroundings. We're spoiled for choice in Gloucestershire, with plenty of beautiful spots to soak up some spectacular autumn colour and new woodland wellbeing trails to try. 

If you don't fancy doing your usual walk or run when it's icy and cold, trying out a YouTube yoga class or an at-home workout is a good alternative to keep your body active on the days you don't want to go out. 

It's not just your body that can benefit from some exercise over the winter months either. Keeping your brain engaged by learning a new skill, reading a book, joining a class, having a conversation with family members and friends, or even just listening to a stimulating podcast can all benefit your brain — and provide something fun to do during the long evenings indoors. 

There's lots more mental health advice available from the NHS and charities like MIND, but for anyone that's struggling with more than just the winter blues, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), persistent low mood, feelings of despair or lack of pleasure in the things they usually enjoy, Rees recommends being proactive and contacting your GP. 

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