Dark winter mornings and evenings can take a toll on your mood.

This is why a leading mental health charity is urging people in Dorset to talk to combat the winter blues.

While many people look forward to the festive break, the long, dark mornings and evenings coupled with the pressure of creating a perfect Christmas and cold weather can cause many people to feel down and experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

It's thought the winter blues, or SAD, affects around two million people in the UK. It can affect people of any age, including children.

Winter can also have a negative effect on people with a more serious mental illness, with research from mental health charity Mind showing that they are almost twice as likely to be spending Christmas alone than people without a mental health problem.

Staying mentally well is just as important as keeping physically well through the winter months and there are a number of things you can do to help.

* Speak to someone about how you are feeling.

* If you are concerned about your feelings speak to your local GP, or if one of your family or friends has expressed feelings of loneliness or despair, encourage them to do so.

* Mind has an online community called elefriends.org.uk which allows you to share your experiences and listen to others in a safe environment.

*Crisis home treatment is available to anyone registered with a GP in Dorset who is experiencing mental health issues. To access the service, speak to your GP or other health or social care professional. You can also contact the service directly and speak to a mental health professional 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week.

Marianne Storey, chief executive officer at Dorset Mind, said: “If during the winter months and seasonal festivities you are experiencing difficulties with your mental health, we are here to help. Our support groups are safe places to talk. And if you call our information telephone line we can direct you to many other sources of support. It is important that we all look after our mental health and wellbeing during the winter. There are some simple things that can make a big difference."

For more information, visit www.dorsetmind.uk


It is important to eat well during the winter. You may crave sugary foods and carbohydrates, such as chocolate, pasta and bread, but don’t forget to include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet.

Wholegrain cereals, pulses, fruit and vegetables are more filling and, because the sugar in these foods is absorbed more slowly, don’t cause mood swings.

*Physical activity

Being physically active can stimulate chemicals in the brain which can lighten your mood. You don’t need to run a marathon or spend hours in the local gym – just try to get active for 30 minutes a day, five days-a-week.

Go outside if you can as the daylight can help stop the production of melatonin - the sleep hormone - which can be high in people with symptoms of depression.

*Stay in touch

With bad weather and dark evenings, it is very easy to become isolated. Keep in touch with your neighbours, family and friends.