The colder, darker winter months can be hard on our mental health. The winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), affects around 2 million people in the UK.

Even if you don’t feel like you are struggling, it’s a good idea to take some simple steps to protect your mental health and make sure you are feeling your best.

  • Get outdoors – make the most of natural light by getting outside for at least half an hour a day and sitting close to windows when you are inside during the daytime.
  • Keep active – though you might struggle to motivate yourself, keeping active can be very effective in lifting your mood and increasing your energy levels. Even just an hour’s walk a day can make a big difference.
  • Keep warm – being cold has been shown to increase symptoms of depression. Keep warm with hot drinks and hot food when the weather is chilly. Wear warm clothes and shoes, and aim to keep your home between 18C and 21C (or 64F and 70F degrees).
  • Eat healthily – if you are feeling down, you are more likely to reach for foods that are high in fat, carbohydrates and sugar. Try to balance your cravings with plenty of fruit and vegetables to boost your mood, give you more energy and stop you putting on weight over winter.
  • Stay social – It’s been shown that socialising is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while.

If you are really struggling with your mental health this winter, seek help. Visit the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust website for information on services that can support you, or call the Sussex Mental Healthline on 0800 0309 500.