It’s been the darkest of winters for mental health, with the constant threat from Covid-19 and our restricted lockdown life. But what if you could beat the blues by turning this dark season into a Thriving Winter instead?
Inishowen fisherman, sailor and musician Luke McGuinness has one solution – a new ‘Thriving Winter’ programme to embrace the season positively. The programme is delivered online and begins on 10th January.
Some people always struggle to get through the long, dark winters, says Luke. “ It may affect your mood and mental health. You may spend most of the season comfort eating and wishing the days away until spring or summertime.”
“ So ‘Thriving Winter’ is a 14-week structured programme which aims to transform winter into a positive and fulfilling experience for everyone taking part”.
“It combines physical activity, creativity, mindfulness and gratitude to help you manage winter and boost your mental well-being. The course is delivered through weekly sessions and there’s an online support group to help out in between.”
Luke piloted the programme in November and says he’s pleased with the results. “People are managing the programme well, taking it at their own pace and using the tools to improve their wellbeing.”
Here’s what one participant had to say: “I feel much more positive in myself and I am much more organized as well.”
Another participant, Patricia, also had high praise for Thriving Winter. It helped her replace the negativity and isolation of dark evenings “with tasks that keep me physically and mentally fit. I learned that it was ok to fail, to make the best of nature and above all how to be grateful. There was a sense of community knowing others were there alongside me, doing the same.”
Rosie says Thriving Winter is one of the very best things she’s ever done. “After taking this course I feel in control of things…I feel like I can take anything on, one step at a time.”
Who Can Benefit from Thriving Winter
“Thriving Winter is aimed at others like me who need a helping hand to guide them through this darker season. It’s for anyone who finds the winter long, bleak or painful or who feels overwhelmed, tired or unfocused in winter.”
Luke spent several years abroad, working on boats, and really felt the mental challenge of Irish winters when he came home. So, last year he took action to help himself and others face the season.
“I organised Facebook and WhatsApp groups to get people together for activities to break the monotony of the winter months. We went for hikes, runs and swims. The sense of community that came along with this helped to make the season more enjoyable.”
“Now, the current Covid restrictions mean that meeting up with others from outside of your household is not advised. So, I figured a fun and engaging online course could be a good solution to this problem.”
How the Thriving Winter Programme Works
Over the last few years, Luke has assembled what is basically a mental toolkit. “People could benefit massively from getting access to this toolkit. Taking part in the course also offers structure and accountability to help make sure they meet their own expectations.”
Participants will receive a link to each weekly video every weekend, says Luke, and can access them through the website also. “Each video will have helpful tips for dealing with winter’s challenges. They will also have tasks to ensure that participants can apply these tips and tools right away.”
“The course will start off slow and easy but become slightly more challenging as it progresses. There will indeed be some hard work involved, as there usually is with all the best things in life.”
Luke says there is a Facebook group to accompany the course. “This group will create a very kind and supportive community between sessions. This will help boost your motivation and focus to meet winter’s challenges head on.”
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“My hope is that those who take part will feel energised, focused and content throughout the winter months,” says Luke. “So, by springtime they’ll feel the course made winter more bearable but also improved the rest of their lives too.”