Beat the winter blues 31 May 2018 The cold weather is upon us and for some this can affect our mood, leading us to feel sluggish and gloomy, and increasing our levels of stress. Do you feel overwhelmed, worried, sad or unmotivated? Low mood can be seasonal, especially during winter, so it is important to recognise when you are feeling lousy and unmotivated and do something to intervene. High stress levels and depressive symptoms can make looking after your diabetes more difficult. Low mood can prevent good self-care of your diabetes, make it harder to reach your blood glucose targets, and increase the risks of diabetes related complications. Some people know when they are distressed (or are likely to become distressed) while others are less aware. The specific warning signs will vary from person to person, although there are some general symptoms you can look out for to beat the winter blues: Physical Changes: Headaches, muscle tension, stomach cramps, chest pain, diarrhoea, high blood glucose levels. Repetitive negative thoughts: I’ve had enough, I can’t do this, This is too hard, What if…., If only……, no one cares. Feelings/Emotions: Resentment, guilt, denial, anger, irritability, frustration, low motivation, stress. Behaviours: Poor self care, avoidance of other people, sleep problems, reduced physical activity. Things you can do to help your mood and mental well-being include: Focusing on the present and not stressing about the past. Find time for pleasant activities. Do something that makes you feel good, maybe something you previously enjoyed and have not done for a while. Challenge negative thoughts by questioning them. ‘Am I jumping to conclusions’, ‘Would I be this hard on someone else?’, ‘Why is this upsetting me?’. Use deep breathing exercises, 10 deep breaths per minute can help relax you. Reach out and talk to someone supportive. This may be a family member, friend or health professional. Taking care of your emotional well-being means knowing when to get help. Your GP or Diabetes Educator is a good place to start and they can direct you to the help you need.