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Coping with the pandemic during winter

Top tips from Clare McRobbie, Wellbeing Practitioner at Valley Steps

As the days continue to get shorter, the nights darker and the temperatures lower, living in a Pandemic throughout the winter is likely to be more challenging. This combined with the ongoing inability to make any future plans, missing loved ones and not forgetting the health anxieties that covid presents, can be emotionally draining.

Taking care of yourself throughout the winter

We understand that sometimes it can be easier said than done but adopting a “positive mindset” and focusing on the good things about the winter can help you cope with the pandemic.

Clare McRobbie is a Valleys Steps Wellbeing Practitioner who has offered us some expert tips and advice on managing stress and anxiety over the next coming months. (You can find out more about Valley Steps and their work below).

Clare’s advice:

Blow the cobwebs off – wrap up warm and go for a mindful walk. If you have children, take them for a walk too. Focus on your surroundings, take in the changing colour of the trees and appreciate each moment.

Plan special nights in – how do the dark nights make you feel? If they make you feel down, try and look at the positives. Light a scented candle, get cosy and take some time out to look after yourself.

Meet with family and friends –Plan online meetups with friends and family, or depending on the restrictions at the time, you may be able to meet in person for a coffee. It’s important to talk about how you feel, the likelihood is that they too have been experiencing the same feelings. Take time to listen to them too.

Learn something new – evidence suggests that engaging in new hobbies, interests or activities helps to improve our wellbeing and reduce stress and anxiety. There are some live online classes you can sign up to, for example, sewing, wreath making and craft activities.

Give – support someone who needs some help, for example, dropping off some shopping for an elderly person who may not want to go to the supermarket. When we support others, we improve our own wellbeing.

Don’t listen to the news all day long Excessive viewing of the news during a pandemic can impact your mental health and wellbeing, limit news on a need to know basis then watch something that makes you laugh or fills you with joy.

Gratitude Journal– Keep a gratitude journal-write down 3 things every day that you are grateful for, research suggests that this helps us to improve our wellbeing as we focus on the positive rather than the problems.

Exercise – walk, cycle, jog, do yoga, pilates, dance in the kitchen to your favourite music. 30 mins every day helps to boost health and wellbeing

Practice 5-minute Mindfulness every day:

  1. Stop what you are doing and focus your attention on the body.
  2. Tune into how the body is feeling right now in this moment.
  3. Feel the feet on the floor, feel the body sitting on the chair or standing, your back straight and tall, the shoulders, the hands resting on the lap or by the side of the body.
  4. Tune into the mood/feeling tone that is there for you in the present moment.
  5. Breathe – shift the focus of your attention to the breath. Focus the attention on the tip of the nostrils, feeling the breath going in through the nostrils and feeling the warm air on the out breath… take 5 mindful breathes, focusing your attention on the in breath and the out breath.
  6. Place one hand on the heart and just say to yourself…
  • May I be as kind to myself as I possibly can be in this moment.
  • May I accept myself exactly as I am in this moment.
  • May I allow things to be as they are in this moment with kindness and compassion.
  • If you feel like you need extra support, there has never been a more important time to reach out to some of the incredible local support available in Merthyr Tydfil.

A Valley Steps Service Specifically for Merthyr Cluster Patients

Valley Steps offer classes specifically for Merthyr Cluster patients. Many people find it challenging when it comes to large groups, this can particularly be the case for those with higher levels of anxiety or low mood and for those who may need a little more support or encouragement to attend a stress management or mindfulness course. The cluster has invested in the provision of online workshops specifically for smaller groups. The sessions are currently online, but we’ll be delivering in GP Practices and other community venues as soon as we are able. For more information, speak to your local GP Support Officer or Practice staff.

More about Valley Steps

Valley Steps is a local organisation that we work with to provide free, open access courses in stress control and mindfulness to the people of Merthyr Tydfil. Our joint aim is to help users improve wellbeing by helping them better understand and manage their feelings.

Valley Steps are currently running their mindfulness and stress management classes online, providing the same high-level support to people in their homes. Each session lasts for an hour and audience microphones and cameras are disabled for complete discretion.

You can find out more about the courses and sign up to the online sessions here.

If you’d prefer to dip your toe in and practice mindfulness in your own time or during times where you feel anxious or stressed, Valley Steps offer pre-recorded Mindfulness and Stress Control audios to listen to, anytime and anywhere.

To find out more about Valley Steps, please visit their website.