Winter months can be downright uncomfortable. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is when a season has a serious impact on your mood, affects people mostly in winter, and can be similar to the symptoms of depression. We can however actively improve our mood and health by focusing on self-care and wellbeing. Here are some tips which will keep your mind and body in their best shape this winter.
Spend Time Outside
It is easy to avoid going outside when it is cold and wet. However, trapping yourself too long within the four walls of your home, office, car or bus for the entire winter will leave you feeling caged-in. Actively push yourself to get some fresh air, and enjoy being in open spaces. Going for a walk, especially where there is lots of nature, will make a pleasant change of scenery, and will give you lots of good vibes.
Hydrate your Body
Colder air holds less moisture, and can sap it out of your body. Be sure to hydrate yourself regularly. Carry a refillable water bottle with you, and even play with flavours like adding mint or some fresh fruit. Avoid sugary processed drinks, these are not healthy. Make water your go-to drink for your meal and snack times.
Search for the Sun
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be triggered by a lack of sunlight, or more specifically the vitamin that is made by sunlight hitting our skin - Vitamin D. When the sun is shining, prioritise spending time outside. If you feel like you're not getting enough sunlight, there are ways to combat this. Vitamin D supplements are available, which have been shown to help improve mood. Light therapy has also been shown to improve mood. Consult your doctor or pharmacist to discuss which treatments could be beneficial to you. It is however all about balance - be sure not to get a sunburn. If you are spending time outside at higher altitudes and around snow you should wear sunscreen when outside.
Take a Spa Break at Home
Take some time to concentrate on yourself. Whether it's putting on a face mask, giving yourself a pedicure, or taking a bath with some tealights and essential oils, it is all about putting yourself and your wellbeing first. Here are our top-tips on how to transform your bathroom into a day-spa.
Surround Yourself with Friends and Family
The darkness of winter can feel isolating, and a symptom of Seasonal Affective Disorder is to shut yourself off from social contacts. Be sure to plan time with family and friends - we are all in this winter together, and together we can get through it. Ask someone to come over to share that new bottle of wine that you bought, for a board game evening, pizza and a movie, or for a good old-fashioned chat.
Pursue your Passion
Winter is a great time to slow down and focus on anything but the cold or wet weather. Keep your creative juices flowing and your mind active. Whether it's listening to or creating music, creating art or visiting an art gallery or practising yoga, a regular activity that you enjoy will help keep your mind active and happy.
When you look great, it won’t matter how dark or cold it is outside. Take out all your winter clothes and lay them out in front of you. See what pieces you love and which you haven’t worn that often in the last few winters. Plan a few outfits in advance - everything from the hat to your shoes - so that you will look put-together for every occasion. Research winter looks with tools such as Pinterest. You can have so much fun planning your outfits, and then showing off your looks when you go out. Be sure to prioritise being warm over being fashionable, and don’t stress yourself out with trying to get the fashion approval of others. It should be fun and uplifting to know that you look how you want to for your own enjoyment - it does not matter what anybody else thinks.
Create cosy mood-lighting with the warming glow of candles or a fireplace. If you don’t have a fireplace, you can play fireplace videos on your television or computer screen - it really does work! Place candles and tealights on dinner tables for romantic dinners, and in your living room where you relax. Never leave candles unattended and be sure to extinguish them before you fall asleep!
Take a News Break
Our minds were not made to know everything that is going on in the world at all times. The news only reports the biggest events, and is not representative of how the world is actually doing. Consuming too much news can be unhealthy, especially when it is already difficult to stay positive during dark and cold months in winter. Concentrate on the world directly around you, and how you are personally doing. Instead of reading news why not call a friend or family member and ask them for their personal news and how they are doing.
Take a Social-Media Break
Social media these days is unfortunately less about connecting with friends, and more about mindlessly scrolling through short videos or pictures. Scrolling endlessly cuts yourself off from the world directly around you, in that moment, and transports you to snapshots of other people’s lives. Sometimes you just need a quick escape, which is totally fine, but spending too long on social media can leave you feeling dissatisfied and disconnected with your own surroundings. Be sure to not escape too long through the tunnel of social media. Try to find other ways to relax that are better for your mental health.
Working out in winter sometimes needs that extra bit of motivation. Start small, perhaps in your home, with a few moves. Don't plan too much - just start small. Try creating a workout routine, however easy, and sticking to it. It is the repetition and sense of achievement that will improve your mood. Increase the difficulty and duration over time if you like. Wear a hat and gloves when outside as your hands and head may remain cold even when you are working out.
Don’t just buy your own comfort food, you can have fun making it too! Freshly baked cookies are so easy to make, and your house will smell so festive for hours afterwards. Treat friends, family, and neighbours to your baked goods too.
Declutter your Home
Decluttering is a wonderful way to care for yourself. It comes in two forms - deciding how many of your possessions should be on show in your home, and how many possessions you actually want and need. The act of taking stock of what you actually have in your possession is a great way to appreciate the objects that you allow into your life. You can sort out some objects that do not ‘spark joy’, and give them away or sell them. Look at how busy your house is, and if more objects could be stored away from view. With less objects visible, you are able to enjoy each object more. A more minimalistic home can support a sense of calm.
The weeks leading up to Christmas or big family gatherings can be stressful. We often leave buying presents to the last minute, if this is your tradition, and underestimate the time that it takes to wrap them. Before a big event such as Christmas, it can be a good idea to start planning the details 1-2 months in advance. There will be other priorities such as socialising, baking and work events, which also take a lot of our free time. Try to plan out your free time weeks in advance, with ample time to do each activity, to make sure that you reach your goals in a relaxed way. Create lists to keep organised.
Take Care of your Body
It is so easy to over-indulge during the holiday and winter season. There will be many festive events involving an abundance of alcohol and fatty foods. While you should absolutely enjoy yourself and the company that you are in, if you over-indulge in drink or food, your body may take some time to recover. Try not to change your eating and drinking habits too drastically, to allow an easy transition back to daily life after the holiday season, or an easy transition back to warmer months.
Take Care of your Money
Wintertime can be expensive. Winter 2022-2023 will suffer from record energy prices leaving less money for gifts and treating yourself. Never go into debt for presents - explain to family and friends what your budget, if any, is. Everyone will understand that money can be tight sometimes, especially this winter. You can gift experiences instead of objects - gift someone some planned quality time together, like a baking day, a hiking trip, or a day-trip to a new city together. Gift-giving is about appreciating each other, and appreciation can come in many forms, not only with objects. Be sure to save up extra money, if possible, for unexpected costs in Winter such as for heating, house and car repairs.