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Unforgettable Tips To Get Through Winter

Just the thought of long, dark winter evenings enough to make you feel down? You’re not alone…


With World Kindness Day just around the corner, at Unforgettable Experiences we believe that kindness is integral to our company, to the wellbeing of our staff and to our service users and their families. Not only that, it has been clinically proven that kindness can help to boost empathy, compassion and self-esteem, contributing to an overall spike in mental and emotional wellbeing. According to reports, showing kindness can also decrease blood pressure as well as cortisol, a hormone which directly impacts our stress levels. Kindness is contagious and compounding, and it’s important to remember not only to show kindness to others, but to also be kind to yourself.


As the seasons change, we appreciate that like us, you may come to feel overwhelmed or more prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder (often known as SAD). Seasonal Affective Disorder can be commonly referred to as “winter depression” as symptoms are often more apparent throughout the winter months. SAD is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern, meaning it isn’t only specific to winter but - for many - it can become more severe during the shorter autumn and winter days, where exposure to sunlight is greatly reduced.


In a 2019 report, Age UK found almost 2.6 million people aged 65 and over to have spoken to three or fewer people in a typical week, with over 225,000 often going a week without speaking to anyone at all. Naturally, the lasting effects of COVID-19 has meant that these numbers have only increased. With this in mind, we wanted to celebrate kindness in all of its many forms, all month long, believing it to be an elemental way to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder and other mental health conditions that can become especially exaggerated around this time of year.


As we enter a new month, and begin preparing for shorter days and darker nights, the team here at Unforgettable Experiences wanted to take the opportunity to share our top tips to get through this winter, if you - or a loved one - are feeling lonely, isolated or a little bit lost…


1. Make sure to spend some time outside


Even if it’s only for 20 minutes or your daily walk to the shops, be sure to make the most of any winter sun or clean, crisp weather available. Both your mental and physical wellbeing will thank you for some fresh air and a stretch of those legs. Be sure to wrap up warm, pop on a podcast and maybe pack a flask for longer outings!


2. Be kind to your mind, and others too!


What better way than to honour the principles of World Kindness Day than to practice them day-to-day? The winter months can be especially harsh on all of us, so after checking in with yourself, make sure to check in with others who may be feeling down also. It’s been proven that performing small acts of kindness and practicing gratitude regularly can make you happier, or at the very least improve your mood.


In addition to listening to your mind and body, take stock of those around you and look out for any signals that may suggest those close to you are struggling also. For example if someone you love is seeming more withdrawn or asking for your support, practice kindness in listening to them and if you’re able to, offer a solution. Often a problem shared is a problem halved.


3. Change your routine


Winter can be a particularly difficult time for daily routines, even more so now that so much of life is hosted online. Many adults struggle not only with focus and concentration throughout these darker months, but sleeping patterns can also be affected and lead to lethargy taking its toll. If you find yourself feeling more down or stuck in a rut than usual, try shaking up your routines.


The best way to do this is taking a leap from steps 1 and 2 - get outside and communicate with others! And if this doesn’t work for you, that’s okay - maybe reading a book for an hour an evening, or completing a quick sudoku puzzle first thing in the morning could do the trick for you? Remember everybody works differently, it’s important to trial and error to figure out what works for you.


4. Engage in the arts


When you really don’t feel like leaving the house - because we all have those days - one way to improve your mood can be through engaging in the arts to help keep your mind busy, sharpen your focus and improve your memory. The brain is like any other muscle in the body - it still needs to be worked in whatever form that works for you. And what better way than through rekindling your creative passions?


Whether that be taking up a new arts and crafts project, revisiting photography, cozying up with a good book or reworking a painting...you don’t need to leave home to activate those brain muscles! We found that those who took part in our digital arts services experienced a 20% improvement* in their emotional wellbeing while users were able to feel like part of a community and connect with like-minded souls. Elizabeth, one of our service users with moderate dementia told us how she benefits from the support that Unforgettable Experiences provides:


“This has been a great opportunity for me to meet other people who are also passionate about poetry and writing. It has been a joy to participate twice a week, learning from my colleagues and joining them in expressing myself through our wonderful language. I cannot tell you how empowered I feel in being given the time to write down my thoughts and emotions, while feeling appreciated and listened to by those around me.”

For more information on the services that we have on offer, please see https://www.unforgettableexperiences.org.uk/about-us-sessions


World Kindness Day takes place on Saturday 13th November this year. For more information and for how you can get involved, please visit - https://kindness.org/about or https://kindnessuk.com/aboutus.php


*data sourced from independent evaluation carried out by Dr Yulia Kartalova-O’Doherty and Toby Williamson, March 2021


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