8 Effective Ways to Take Care of Yourself This Winter
Nearly 1 in 5 Americans reports a decline in mental health over the past year. 2020 has been undoubtedly challenging, and the upcoming winter season is quickly approaching.
For many people, the cold and dark season presents new challenges. From freezing temperatures and fewer daylight hours to pandemic restrictions and financial insecurities, we’re all struggling with the looming nature of these difficult times.
During this time, prioritizing self-care is essential. Let’s get into the top tips for how to take care of yourself this winter.
Yes, it may be dark and cold. However, being in nature can be profoundly beneficial for your mental health. We’re meant to spend time outside, but the winter season may compromise our desire to honor this need.
Try to set aside at least 10-15 minutes each day to be outdoors. It doesn’t matter what you do- you can even just bring your coffee on the patio, but commit to making a consistent effort to expose yourself to fresh air.
Prioritize a Nutritious Diet
It’s no secret that winter is full of yummy treats. However, a constant diet of fatty or sugary foods can wreak havoc on your emotional well-being.
Instead, try to maintain eating a sensible diet full of vegetables, fruits, and protein. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and limit excess caffeine or alcohol. It’s okay to indulge in your favorite meals- just make sure that you’re consuming them in moderation!
Research shows that consistent movement can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, many people struggle to exercise during the winter months. It’s harder to get outside, and it can feel much more tempting to lounge on the sofa instead.
Keep in mind that exercise doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing plan to be effective. Even just a few minutes of yoga stretches or calisthenic moves can help boost your energy.
Check Your Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D is commonly known as the sunshine vitamin. Your body produces it when it’s exposed to sunlight or specific foods. Vitamin D supports a functioning immune system, but it can also help regulate your mood.
The winter can affect your Vitamin D levels. Consider talking with your doctor about receiving a blood test. If you have a deficiency, they can recommend you take an appropriate supplement.
Stay Connected With Peers
Many people are struggling with feeling isolated right now. Even if you’re tired of the FaceTime chats and Zoom meetings, human connection is essential, and you might need to continue being creative with how you interact with others.
Depression and isolation can go hand-in-hand. To avoid your depression worsening, try to continue staying in touch with loved ones. Even just a simple text or planned phone call can help you feel more supported and connected.
Right now, it may feel challenging to focus on your gratitude. After all, there are so many stressors affecting our daily routines. But reflecting on what you’re thankful for helps you maintain a more positive perspective on life.
You can practice gratitude in many ways, including:
- Writing down the things you feel grateful for each night.
- Telling the people you love how much you appreciate them.
- Doing something kind for someone else.
- Incorporating more mindfulness into your daily life.
- Trying to change negative thinking into more positive and realistic thoughts.
Remember that it may take some practice for these exercises to feel natural. Stick with it! Having a grateful mindset allows you to cope with life’s ups and downs with more ease and resilience.
Create New Holiday Traditions
This winter will probably look much different than previous winters. You might not be enjoying the massive celebrations or nonstop parties. You may not even be in the mood to celebrate the holiday season.
These feelings are normal. Although change is hard, this year can provide opportunities for tapping into creativity and starting new traditions. You may want to consider some of these tips:
- Hosting a virtual dinner with friends and family at a set time.
- Delivering food to higher-risk family members or neighbors.
- Watching favorite movies at home.
- Engaging in a virtual gift-giving celebration.
- Having a special dinner at home with members of your household.
- Trying new outdoor activities while maintaining social distance (winter camping, plogging, snowshoeing if you get enough snow).
Take Care of Yourself This Winter by Considering Therapy
If you feel more depressed during the winter, you aren’t alone. Almost half a million Americans struggle with seasonal affective disorder, and up to 20% of people experience a milder type of winter blues.
You don’t have to suffer in silence. Therapy can help you explore your feelings and concerns. It can also help you learn new coping skills to manage such distress. We’ll work together to help you take care of yourself this winter.
No matter the season, we are here for you all year round. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
Willow Counseling, PLLC – Nashville, TN
Willow Counseling, PLLC exists to provide quality trauma-informed mental health counseling to the Nashville community, recognizing the interconnectedness of our emotional, spiritual and physical selves. We work together to alleviate symptoms, learn better coping skills, relieve burdens, remove the pain of trauma, and so much more. However, our greatest desire is for you to know what it means to feel purpose and joy again and to recognize the strength and worth you have to offer the world.