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How to Care for Yourself in the Winter to Treat and Beat the Winter Blues

(Especially with COVID Adding Stress to our Lives)

In the winter months it can be harder to maintain a happy mind set, and with the world being so unfamiliar right now, this winter is likely to be very different from those in the past. And likely, not for the better. Winter can be isolating, throw in a pandemic, social restrictions, and lockdowns, and this winter is likely to be come a cold and lonely time for many people.


But rest assured you’re not the only one who struggles with a mindset and mood shift this time of year—there’s a reason the term “winter blues” is so commonplace. And even more good news, there are ways to treat the winter blues to reduce these lower and sad feelings and even to prevent them altogether.


And with this being such a strange and unprecedented year, I’d say taking precautions with these types of self care for your mental well-being should be high on everyone’s priority list. In this case though, the precautions are a little bit different then avoiding social gatherings, and only leaving your home for the essentials. Instead, they look like our traditional ideas of self-care.


And yes, self-care is something important, and isn’t just a luxurious indulgence. Things like making sure you’re eating well and getting enough sleep aren’t glamourous, but they do fall into the category of self-care.

So, without further ado, here are some tips to help you beat the winter blues.


Self-care tips to add to your routine to help you beat the winter blues:


1. Get some sun light.

According to CMHA even just sitting next to a window on a cloudy day can help your mood, so they suggest that you keep your curtains and blinds open during the day. And, if you can get outside that’s even better, the sunlight and fresh air are wonderful mood boosters when you’re feeling a little off.


2. Move your body.

Workout, yoga, walk, run, hike, dance, go skating, go sledding. These things all help to release happy hormones (like serotonin), and they uplift your mood! If you can combine them with being outdoors even better!


3. Get out of your head and into a book (or podcast).

Sometimes breaking the negative thought process needs a little external help. Getting into a different perspective or reading about a topic you love can offer a welcome distraction when the winter blues are weighing on you.


4. Make time for things that make you smile.

Love cat videos, epic fail videos, or simply laughing with your close friends? That’s amazing! And, when you’re feeling low that’s exactly what you need more of, so pull out your phone and call your friends or start streaming some smile-inducing content.


5. Maintain a proper sleep schedule.

Sleep allows your body to repair, and this includes your hormones and mood. Make sure you’re following a regular sleep schedule and getting 7-9 hours of sleep each day.


6. Make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet.

· What you feed your body plays a big role in your over all health, and this includes your mental health. Make sure you’re eating regularly and are eating a well-balanced diet.


7. Allow yourself to indulge.

Yep, there’s a time and place to be indulgent—that extravagant bath bomb, that rich chocolate cake, that warm and chic jacket, or whatever it is that you’ve been eyeing, give yourself the permission to indulge in it when you can.


Set yourself up for a warm bath and throw in that bath bomb and unwind guilt free. Take over your kitchen and start cooking purely for yourself (or sneak off to the bakery ‘cause sometimes having the baking already done is perfection). (Responsibly) dip into your savings for that gorgeous new coat.


8. Clean your space.

·Clearing you space can help to clear your mind and shift your mind set to lift the low, winter blues feeling.


9. Do something good for someone else.

Give yourself a little serotonin boost by doing something good for someone else.


10. Give yourself permission to be in a bad mood.

Don’t be upset with yourself for being in a bad or low mood—it happens to all of us!


11. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D helps to support more than just your physical health. Vitamin D is also linked to your mood and mental health concerns like depression.


12. Ask for help.

Reach out to friends and loved ones for support. Sometimes things can be hard to handle on our own, so reaching out to loved ones and letting them know you’re having a hard time and may need a distraction or extra support is perfectly alright.


13. Make an appointment with your doctor.

Sometimes we need more support than what our friends and family can offer. And sometimes, we need medical support if we’re really struggling. Reach out to your family doctor or to a crisis line if we find yourself struggling with more than just the feeling of blues, but are experiencing more intense symptoms and feelings of depression. There is no shame in this, and there is support out there for you.



Regardless of your mental health status, this season it’s important to prioritize yourself and make sure that you’re taking care of yourself, even if just in the most basic of ways.


And if you’re looking for ideas to find the good in every day to help lift your mood and increase your feelings of gratitude and joy, checkout this recent blog post: How to Find the Good in Everyday.

Resources:

https://cmha.ca/blogs/winter-blues-101

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad.htm

https://www.facebook.com/nutritionwsarah

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