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Top tips on managing the winter blues

Publication date: December 20, 2018

Some people thrive in the winter months, with celebrations and the start of a new year full of possibilities and resolutions. But for others it can bring feelings of isolation, obligation, pressure, lack of routine and the unknown.

Three UKCP therapists have given us their advice for coping with the winter months. You can find out more about these therapists and more by clicking on their name and others by clicking here.

Whether you love winter or dread it, there’s something you can do to help yourself or talk to others about.

Sharn Tomlinson:

  1. If you have lost someone try remembering them in a special way.  Do something you know you both would have enjoyed together.  Don’t say goodbye say hello and remember the way they made you feel about you.
  2. Remember that this period will soon be over and how you remember it will be up to you.  Having a duvet day; doing something for someone else by volunteering or giving someone a call; watching old movies – you choose but make it something meaningful for you.
  3. Keep expectations in check.  Nothing is perfect – people may be ratty with too much good food and wine slowing them down.  Make sure you make your Christmas special and let everyone else do the same.
  4. Don’t believe the myth that everyone is enjoying themselves – some peoples coping mechanism is to look like they are enjoying themselves.
  5. If someone is disappointed this Christmas – tell them you love them.  It is free!

Julie Dearden:

  1. Make time to have face to face nourishing conversations with the people in your life.
  2. Move your body it can help shift feelings of anxiety and low mood.
  3. Offer yourself compassion and kind words especially when you are struggling.
  4. Nurture yourself in every way; good food, exercise, warm restful environment etc.

Lucy Christopher:

  1. If you get caught in cycles of negative thinking/emotions, set an amount of time to allow them to come, and then actively switch gear, move away from them, and go and do something enjoyable, engaging, and pleasurable.
  2. Could you replicate something you used to enjoy in childhood that really absorbed you, or helped you to cope in challenging times?
  3. What words of comfort or support would you most like to hear from a friendly voice? Put your hand on your chest and soothingly tell them to yourself. Don’t abandon yourself in these moments.
  4. Try interrupting the urge to be self-destructive with something else until it passes – e.g. counting backwards from 100, messaging a friend, watching something funny online.
  5. If you start to feel as if you can’t cope, take a moment to stand still, and imagine powerful roots flowing down from your feet and into the ground, and remind yourself of all the times you have coped in the past.
  6. If you struggle with flashbacks, take a moment to ground yourself in the present moment by listing 5 things you can currently see, hear and touch. Repeat until it passes.

If you’d like to talk to a qualified psychotherapist to receive more personal support, you can search the Find a Therapist register here.

You can also find support by contacting:

In an emergency, call: 999

NHS (England), call: 111

NHS Direct (Wales), call: 0845 46 47

The Samaritans 24-hour helpline, call: 116 123

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