Winter wellbeing is easy, right? Stock up on soup, dig out your warm jumpers, thick socks and coat. See if your wellies are up to another wet or snowy season. Summer wellbeing is all about hayfever, sunblock and enjoying your holiday – even easier! Everyone feels a bit blue in winter and happier in summer, of course.
Really? Is seasonal wellbeing that simple? Firstly, we have 4 seasons, not 2. And the weather is unpredictable in the UK in every season. But many of us are affected by weather and outdoor conditions, even if we’re working indoors. Grey days might leave us feeling down, noisy winds could make it hard to sleep, so we’re exhausted the next day. Hot sunshine and even hotter temperatures can be lovely, until you need to travel on a bus or be at work. Our mood, our energy and our wellbeing really can be affected by what nature has in store.
So how do we look after ourselves during the whole year, whatever the seasonal ups and downs? What happens if our usual strategies just don’t work all year round? We might rely on a morning run to clear our mind and create energy, but find it’s not safe to go out in ice and snow. If enjoying the wildlife in our local park calms us, it can be difficult when rainy days have left the ground too muddy to walk easily. Extra motivation could be needed to get us out of the house, but that can be hard if we’re already experiencing anxiety or low mood.
If we have a routine that helps us stay well, then maybe we need to plan back-up activities. Whatever we do to help our wellbeing, we can try an alternative that doesn’t depend on the weather, how dry the ground is or the amount of daylight available.
Our MindWell self-care resources have lots of tips for activities, with ideas such as eating a colourful salad, walking in nature, sitting outside or being more active. All our self-care resources can be adapted: colourful soup instead of salad; noticing nature through the window; being active indoors with an online class.
It might be helpful for us to reflect on self-care we can carry out during all 4 seasons. For example, if we drink 8 glasses of water a day, we could try warm water or herbal and fruit teas in colder months, but have drinks straight from the fridge on hot days. Our meals can be adapted too: we could search online for porridge ideas or soup recipes in Autumn, then visit the library for inspiration for seasonal produce recipes in Spring.
Self-care is important for our physical and mental health, so it’s also important to make sure we look after ourselves all year round. We might need to plan in advance or ask friends for ideas, but that could help us be more resilient and make our seasonal self-care more simple than we’d imagined. Self-care doesn’t have to feel like a chore if we choose activities that we look forward to or help us feel better. Adapting what we do can mean being playful or creative, so we’re more likely to keep going in every season.
You can explore our MindWell MOT and self-care resources to look for gaps in your self-care routine and find out more about what you can do to help you feel healthier and put some energy back in your tank. Why not complete our MindWell MOT, then the self-care goal setter? Then use our 3 self-care resources (every day maintenance, bad days and days when your mood needs a boost) to spark ideas for self-care all year round or ones that you can easily adapt. Self-care is something we all need in our lives to function as well as we can, so we can all benefit from making tweaks as the seasons pass.
So maybe seasonal self-care isn’t just woolly jumpers or sunblock, but more about looking after our body and mind in the best ways we can – whatever the season (or weather!).