WINTER can be a challenging time as nights become longer and the days become darker.

This season, particularly religious holidays and New Year, can induce stress, anxiety and loneliness for many.

To tackle these greater feelings of isolation and loneliness, Dorset Mind have shared their top six tips for keeping mentally well this winter.

1. Stay connected

This winter, the mental health charity recommends that you try to maintain your connections with other people.

You can do this by calling friends or family for a chat, book regular social meet-ups in your diary every month and stay sensibly and responsibly connected on social media.

Additionally, whilst bearing Covid-19 restrictions in mind, you could join a club, support group or check in regularly with someone you feel close to and comfortable with.

2. Be active

Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups, but it can be difficult to remain active when the weather is cold and wet.

However, small things can make a big difference.

Wrap up warm and take a walk, arrange to go the gym with a friend to keep your motivation up, walk to the shop instead of driving and take the stairs instead of the lift.

These are small steps that can be taken to improve your mental and physical wellbeing.

You could also read inspirational quotes, books, tweets and blogs about how being active is good for the brain.

3. Take notice

According to Dorset Mind, studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present, directly enhances your wellbeing.

Winter brings some wonderful things to appreciate, especially here in Dorset.

Some ideas to savour 'the moment' include photographing things that you notice or that make you smile, interact with nature, try some mindfulness techniques and sit quietly for five minutes.

By doing the latter idea, you can sense how things even sound different when its cold outside.

4. Learn

The opportunity to engage in work or educational activities particularly helps to lift people out of depression, so why not try something new this winter?

You could sign up for a class that spans the winter months, set a goal to read the news every day or read new books or research something that has always intrigued you, amongst other things.

5. Give

Research into actions for promoting happiness has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing.

If you want to focus your efforts on helping others during the winter, you could sign up to volunteer for a cause close to your heart, send a kind note or email and make someone else feel good and offer to help someone with a task.

6. Sleep

Not getting enough sleep can affect your physical and your mental health.

Dorset Mind encourages establishing a bedtime routine to help you relax before you go to bed.

Make sure where you sleep is comfortable and if you are having trouble sleeping, seek help to resolve stress and worries and consider causes such as medication, caffeine or physical problems.

Dorset Mind provides a range of services for adults and young people from aged 11 upwards, suffering with mental health problems across the county. They offer group and one-to-one support options for local people. These include support groups (talking and activity based), befriending, mentoring and counselling. The charity also provide a whole-school programme of support including a new wellbeing check-in service and counselling for young people.  

If you, or anyone you know, are struggling with a mental health difficulty, or if you would like more information about support available across the county, visit Dorset Mind’s website at