The winter season is upon us, meaning colder weather, little sunlight, and lots of time spent indoors. Due to these factors, many people experience a negative shift in mood and energy this time of year, often known as the "winter blues."
However, it’s very possible to overcome these seasonal doldrums and find brighter, more joyful days. Let’s explore five simple yet effective ways to beat the winter blues and revive our spirits this time of year.
1. Prioritize Self-Care
Self-care is exactly what it sounds like - taking care of oneself. It involves anything that improves your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, which is especially crucial during the winter months.
Create a self-care routine for yourself this winter that includes things you enjoy and that make you feel good. This may include relaxing activities such as reading or meditating, fun or creative hobbies, physical exercise, or spiritual activities.
Self-care looks and feels different for everyone, and your self-care activities may vary from season to season. Prioritizing the nurturing of your mind, body, and spirit and making time for those activities will allow you to feel your best this time of year.
2. Move Your Body (In ways you enjoy)
In the winter, it can often be difficult to feel motivated and stick to an exercise routine. Though in reality, your body may need it most this time of year! Exercising regularly, or at minimum when you’re feeling down, is a proven way to boost your mood and energy.
Keep in mind that exercise doesn’t need to be vigorous or intense to be beneficial for both your physical and mental health. Exercises such as yoga, walking, and swimming are great low-impact ways to reduce stress and release those feel-good endorphins.
Moving your body in ways you actually enjoy can also make it easier to stay consistent with exercise. If you absolutely dread your twice weekly CrossFit classes, for example, how likely are you to keep attending long term? Finding a version of movement that you enjoy allows you to look forward to exercising, making it more likely to become a healthy part of your routine.
3. Get Out of the House
Oftentimes, we find our summer and fall calendars jam-packed with fun events and outings every week. When the winter months creep in, though, you may find yourself leaving home less and less. Cold weather and snow tend to keep people indoors, making it easy to become isolated. Those who work remotely, or do not leave home regularly for things such as work or school, may find themselves home for an overwhelming amount of time. Leaving your home even once a week can make a big difference in your mental health this time of year.
While a mini vacation or weekend getaway would be a fun way to raise your spirits in the dead of winter, things like grabbing a coffee from your local coffee shop or browsing the thrift store can also be effective. Getting out of the house can also be as simple as stepping outside to get some fresh air and vitamin D.
After the holidays, January and February can be a slower time of year with fewer things on the calendar, but it doesn’t need to stay that way. Call your friends to meet for lunch, host a game night with your loved ones, or volunteer with local organizations. Human interaction does wonders when you are feeling isolated.
4. Take Up a New Hobby
Who says wintertime has to be boring? Take full advantage of your extra free time by trying new things or taking on a new hobby. While it’s tempting to hibernate all winter and binge your favorite Netflix series every night, this can further contribute to isolation and sadness. Instead, here are some ideas for new activities to explore:
- Reading, writing, journaling
- Cooking or baking new recipes
- Crafting or DIY projects
- Drawing, painting, pottery
- Playing an instrument
- Learning a new language
- Joining a club or recreational sports league
As you are trying your hand at new things, think of the quote by Helen Hayes: “The expert in anything was once a beginner”. Don’t give up, and remember to have fun!
5. Nourish Your Body
Winter is the ultimate time of year for warm, soulful comfort foods. Soups, pasta, chicken and dumplings, a hearty shepherd's pie... Not to mention all of the sweet treats surrounding us during the holidays; pies, truffles, Christmas cookies, cheesecakes, the list goes on.
While you should absolutely enjoy your share of comfort meals and delicious desserts this time of year, prioritize balancing your diet with whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats. A healthy diet makes a big difference in elevating your day-to-day mood and energy levels. The better you eat, the better you will feel.
Eating a nutritious diet will also help boost your immune system to function properly and fight off illnesses this winter such as the flu, common cold, and even COVID.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated, too!
You’ve Got This!
If you find yourself experiencing the winter blues, know that you are not alone. Be gentle to yourself, take small steps each day, and know that brighter days are ahead. Remember to also check on your friends and family this time of year, especially those who may live alone, and share ideas that may help uplift their spirits.
While it's common for many people to see a mood and energy decline in the winter time, if you feel your symptoms are becoming severe or that you are experiencing signs of depression, talk to your healthcare provider to ensure you get the help you need.
Take care of yourself this winter season!