Cozy nights by the fire with hot cocoa, snow angels, and holiday celebrations are only a few of the many good things we associate with winter. However, the season also comes with shorter days, mobility-limiting temperatures, and fewer opportunities to soak up the sun. It’s understandable to feel less buoyant this time of the year, but this may get in the way of productive day-to-day living if we’re not proactive about keeping our mood and motivation steady.
Here are a few self-care ways you can introduce to your routines to stay ahead of the seasonal blues and help you keep a sunny disposition, 30-degree days notwithstanding:
(Editor’s note: Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a type of depression typically experienced throughout the cold, dark months of fall and winter. Seek a medical professional if you’re experiencing symptoms, such as feeling hopeless, for days on end, or drastic changes to your sleep and appetite. SAD needs a professional diagnosis to ensure the right treatments and therapies are adopted.)
1. Get moving with regular exercise
Almost every health issue can be improved by making time for exercise. While exercising clearly benefits your physical health, it can do wonders for your mental health as well. Going for a walk in the fresh air, trying hot yoga, or finishing an at-home workout are some simple and effective ways to get your endorphins flowing and your mood improving. By taking the initiative to get up and moving, you’ll reap the benefits both for your physical and mental health.
2. Soak up the sun
A sunny day isn’t just a metaphor for a happy disposition: literally, it’s the best source for Vitamin D. People diagnosed with SAD typically have low levels of this vitamin. When we’re exposed to the sun, our body is enabled to manufacture its own Vitamin D. While the cold weather is not the most conducive to soaking up the sun, bundling up on a sunny day and spending time outside will likely reduce symptoms of the winter blues. The truth is, our bodies crave sunlight. The sun’s benefits help us get better sleep, strengthens our immune system, and reduce stress and depression. Spend some time outside today, just remember to wear your SPF - yes, even in the winter!
3. Give journal writing a try
We’ve all heard this advice from many sources, perhaps even tried it at one point, even if we’re unsuccessful. The truth is, writing down your thoughts can have a positive impact on your overall mood as it helps your brain label your situation and experiences, including feelings that may be bottled up. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, journaling “helps to organize your life’s problems and identify what is making you feel depressed.” More time spent indoors and colder temps may be the best scene-setters for introspection. Experts say the best time to journal is at night so that you can reflect on your day and sleep in peace with a shift in perspective.
4. Socialize…and get creative about it
When you’re feeling down and out of place in the midst of the gloomy weather, connecting with others can be a highly effective antidote most of the time. Healthcare professionals have found scientific proof of a correlation between social isolation and depression, and after living through a global pandemic, we can all attest to how vulnerable we are to this. Once the holidays are over, it’s important to put in the effort to connect with friends and family, and it doesn’t always have to be a big social event for it to count. Having a board game night, getting together for dinner, or doing a virtual self-care masterclass means you don’t have to be limited by physical logistics to meaningfully connect with others. (Puremaven’s SOS Dry Skin Trio Maven Masterclass is not only seasonally appropriate but also gives you a new routine to lift skincare and mood during this season).
There are ways to take care of mind, body, and soul, even - and especially - when the winter season makes it more challenging than usual. Learn how to take advantage of the opportunities the season presents and bring sunshine into your days.