As the short days and long nights of winter progress, our body and mind can be more susceptible to increased stress responses and even seasonal depression. So it’s important to take care of yourself; not only physically, but mentally this season. That’s easier said than done, but taking the following tips into consideration can help boost your mental health this winter.
Enjoy the outdoors when you can
You’d be amazed how spending some time outdoors each day can help mentally. Mental health self-care is especially important this time of year when the days are often gloomy. Take advantage of sunny days by going outside—bundle up and brave the cold if need be. Going for a walk every morning can drastically reduce stress and change your mood overall.
If there’s snow nearby, many people take on winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing—all of which are great ways to increase your daily exercise and improve your mental health. Consider joining a club that meets weekly for outdoor activities to help motivate you to get outside and move.
Have you heard of the healing power of nature? It’s real. Research shows immersing yourself in nature gives both short and long-term mental health benefits. Make going outside a daily priority and you’ll feel improvements in your mood in no time.
Create a safe space
When you’re done enjoying the outdoors, it’s nice to come home to a cozy spot to relax. Having a safe space in your home, somewhere away from other people, noises, and distractions can be great for your well-being.
Consider creating a calm space for yourself in a spare room you may have, or make a corner of a room your own. If you own your home, you might evaluate whether you’d like to do a renovation to add more space. Although renovations are pricey, you may be able to use your home’s equity to fund a project like this.
Fill your new safe space with things you enjoy. Print your favorite pictures, write positive affirmations and hang them on the wall, add plants, and make a cozy spot to sit. If you enjoy reading you might create a small reading nook, or make space for a yoga mat where you can meditate or stretch. Once your calm space is finished, sit back, relax, and enjoy the positive effects on your mental well-being.
Spend time with friends and family
Humans rely on social support to be fulfilled. Leaning on your friends and family can even provide health benefits. Prioritize seeing friends or family you enjoy being around—you’ll find it has a positive impact on your life.
Lean on loved ones to help talk through challenges or support with daily tasks that may be hard for just one person to handle. Have a puzzle or game night, or just plan to run errands together.
While not everyone has a close relationship with their family, good friends can fill the same role. Surround yourself with friends that you can both have fun with and rely on—and who make positive life choices you respect. Friends like this can motivate you to do the same.
Just like going outdoors, prioritizing exercise can positively boost your mental health. If you don’t love the idea of going outdoors every day, try to push yourself to do some sort of exercise indoors every day. The more you move your body the better you will feel mentally.
You don’t need a home gym to exercise inside. Yoga is a great way to get your workout in and it offers many health benefits—both physical and mental. Yoga can help alleviate stress, improve balance, and boost sleep quality. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, yoga is a great way to ease the weight of both.
If yoga isn’t your style, you can do other at-home exercises. Try following a YouTube workout video, walking up and down stairs, or lifting dumbbell weights in your living room. Pushing yourself to do any form of exercise will have a positive effect on your mind.
These are just a few of the many ways you can support your mental well-being. Put a few to the test and see what works best for you this season. Winter can be a great time to reset, but it may also bring extra challenges and stressors—like the holidays or the marathon of short, cold days. Check in on yourself and make a plan to support your mental well-being to thrive all the way to spring.