ward off mental ill-health this winter by staying connected and keeping active

As Australians rug up for the final month of winter, headspace is encouraging young people to combat the winter blues by staying connected with friends and family, and finding new ways to stay active.

headspace National Senior Clinical Advisor Nick Duigan said even though Australia doesn’t experience as severe winters as the northern hemisphere, that doesn’t mean our young people aren’t impacted by the change of seasons.

“Changes to our physical environment – like a drop in temperatures – can impact our mental health.

“While it’s perfectly normal to feel unenthusiastic about winter weather, it’s important to stay attuned to your mental health during this time and recognise the signs you might need some support,” Mr Duigan said.

“One challenge during winter is maintaining the routine activities that keep us well during other times of the year.

“Perhaps we are less likely to spend time outdoors exercising because of inclement weather.

“Less daylight hours can sometimes impact our opportunities to spend time with friends and family.

Mr Duigan urged young people to find ways they can stay connected with friends and family, and stay active, throughout the colder months.

“Rug up and go for a walk with friends, perhaps while enjoying a hot tea or coffee to keep you warm,” Mr Duigan said.

“Even touching base with a loved one over the phone or online is a nice way to keep connected.

“Try replacing some of your regular outdoor hobbies with indoor options. For example, online yoga or aerobics classes are a good alternative to park runs or the gym.

“While it might feel tempting to stay in bed or at home, or perhaps to drink more alcohol during the colder months, young people facing mental health challenges should keep active, stay connected and cut back on alcohol and other drugs.

“A lack of energy, change in sleeping or eating patterns and a loss of pleasure in things you usually enjoy are signs your mental health might need more attention.

“If you’re feeling this way, it’s important to reach out for support.

“Speaking to friends and family about how you’re feeling is a good option. You can also visit a service like headspace if you need even more support."

Young people, their friends and family can visit their nearest headspace centre for support. Our online and phone counselling service, eheadspace, is also available from 9am to 1am (AEST) every day over the phone (1800 650 890) or via webchat.