Autumn and winter can be tough for many of us at the best of times, with low mood often accompanying the darker evenings and colder weather.
Now, with the added anxiety and isolation of the pandemic, we need to take even more care of ourselves than usual over the next few months.
A useful framework for thinking about this is the Five Ways to Wellbeing. These are: Be active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give, Connect.
Many of these overlap, of course. We can “take notice” of the autumn colours as we take our regular walk to “be active” – and perhaps also “connect” with friends and family safely outdoors.
And when we choose to “give” our time and attention to someone else, we are most helpful when we “connect” by really listening to them – which means we “keep learning” new perspectives.
B&NES’ Wellbeing College (tel 0300 247 0050) has more information about the five ways to wellbeing, plus a range of relevant courses – most of them free – on their website at https://www.wellbeingcollegebanes.co.uk/.
Even when we know it’s important, it can be hard to focus on self-care. We may feel too busy, or perhaps we are already feeling low and unmotivated. When I’m working with clients who want to improve some aspect of their lives, I encourage them to take very gentle baby steps. Here’s a little exercise that can help with that:
Thinking about one of the elements of wellbeing, how happy are you with that area of your life, on a scale of one to ten? Whatever the score is, jot down the positives which make it better than zero (and you’re not allowed to give yourself a zero – you can find one little thing you are doing right).
Now, look at the element that has the lowest score and imagine – if your score was just one point higher than it is, what would you be doing differently? Spend a few moments thinking about what that would be like. What difference would it make to your life, and to how you feel?
Karen Bray (MBACP) is a counsellor with a private practice in Bath. Her website is at www.karenbray.co.uk.