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The fall season has begun making its way for winter and, for many of us, our bodies aren’t the only thing noticing a chill in the air… our emotional state of mind and overall mood has likely felt a nip as well. Winter blues is a common experience generally felt during the winter months.
The joy of spring and the excitement of fall have disappeared. Colder weather, coupled with darkness coming earlier, often brings feelings of depression and sadness with it. But you don't have to let this time of year get you down! In fact, there are ways to turn the winter frowns upside down.
The secret is self-care. And it’s the ultimate cure to winter blues. It's essential to practice winter self-care to stay healthy, both physically and mentally.
What is Self Care?
Self-care aims to maintain a strong bond with your body, mind, and soul. It is known to reduce stress, anxiety and boost self-esteem. Although often confused with self-indulgence, self-care only leads to positive outcomes. It can offer you better work productivity, healthy relationships and a happy lifestyle. Self-care provides you with the tools you need for self-improvement… which is most vital during the winter months.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is an actual condition that affects 10 million Americans per year. The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, also known as the winter blues, are similar to clinical depression. Although the cause for winter blues is unknown, we do know it appears during the winter months. Therefore it is imperative to stick to a self-care routine during this time. While many activities are off-limits during the winter months due to weather conditions, holiday events and being in a funk… it doesn’t mean you still can’t engage in self-care with a little preparation to ward off those blues!
If you give yourself proper treatment through self-care, you will notice a difference in your lifestyle and mood almost immediately. You deserve to be happy during the winter months. Don't let the winter blues get the best of you. Self-care has the power to make you mentally stable and physically well. Here are a 25 ways to practice self-care during the winter months.
Winter Self Care Ideas to Thrive During the Cold Months
1. Prep for the Holidays
Winter offers some of the best holidays and brings families together. That being said… decorating, gifting, and traveling can be stressful. So, plan for the upcoming holiday hoopla. Make a checklist and follow it to prepare for the festivities, ensuring a stress-free holiday and more time enjoying those you love.
2. Listen to Music in the Car
One of the more relaxing forms of entertainment is music. Take a drive to the park or a secluded area and blast the heater. Sit back in the warmth and listen to some relaxing music. Tis’ the season to listen to classical holiday jams. Bonus if you live in an area where it snows, the view mixed with the beats is ethereal.
3. A Hot Beverage
It’s winter, so it is cold out. A hot beverage like coffee has plenty of benefits. Coffee is proven to lower rates of certain illnesses and inspire alertness! That means that not only does it improve physical health, but mental clarity and calm. Especially when the cold makes our bodies tense, the hot beverage instantly allows us to unwind. If you’re not a coffee drinker, tea or hot cocoa are great alternatives to keep you toasty.
4. Find a Sanctuary
Sometimes it's best to get away from it all. Some people do not have the luxury of their own private room. Try to find a warm and safe place to relax. That area can be inside your car, in a furnished attic, or at a friend's house. The library. Either way, a separation between everyday activities and tasks brings new perspectives to your life. Find a place where you can relax.
5. Take up Baking
Baking is not always easy; however, the oven can keep you warm, even if the recipe doesn’t go well. Baking is a great way to practice following directions and build self-esteem. When a recipe is baked perfectly, you have achieved a great goal for your mental health. The best part is you get to enjoy the delicious warm food.
6. Search for the Sun
The sun makes us happy because the sunlight increases serotonin. The earth leans away from the sun during the winter months. Which means we do not get as much of it. So, when the sun is active, take advantage of the moment and soak in the rays while you can.
7. Let’s Get Physical
It can be challenging to keep a workout routine during the winter. Your muscles are stiff, and getting to the gym is difficult, especially in the snow. Do not let this discourage you. Even the small wins make a difference. Meaning, walk in place while watching your favorite television program or do some push-ups in the morning. Try and online workout, many are free via YouTube. Or you can try paid services like Grokker, that typically offer a free trial. Either way, stay active; do not let winter take away your exercise routine.
8. It’s Cold, So Stay Warm
The cold can be unforgiving, but it is also fun. Get a bunch of blankets, a portable heater, a hot beverage or glass of wine and relax on the couch. It’s incredibly comforting for the body and mind to relax in a nice blanket. The only downside is having to get out of the pocket of warmth you created.
9. Make Peace with Winter
Unlike spring, which brings life, winter exudes the opposite. The leaves have fallen off the trees, and the animals are at rest until spring arrives. However, there is still beauty in the season. It’s a time for reflection and appreciation for a new start. Think of every snowfall as a blanket canvas. While winter brings the end of a calendar year, it is also when we prepare to welcome the start of a new one…. which means endless possibilities.
10. Adopt a Plant
Plants tend to wilt during the winter. Adopt a plant and let it live inside your home. The responsibility of taking care of a plant relieves stress from your own life. It allows you to appreciate the world around you while simultaneously taking care of something outside yourself. Also, plants are beautiful to look at and may even bring a lovely fragrance to the home. They are also a great source of oxygen. Take deep breaths and enjoy your new companion.
11. Set Goals for Next Year
Winter is the perfect time to make a list of everything you want to achieve in the coming year. It can be as simple as appreciating friends and family more, or starting a diet and exercise program. The goals should reflect what you want to commit to improving within yourself and your life next year. This helps promote self-improvement and keep your mind on new horizons. Here is an excellent resource to set SMART goals.
12. Winter Fashion Show
Take all your winter clothes from your closet and spread them on the bed. Mix and match articles of clothing you’ve never worn together before. Then, put on a winter fashion show for yourself or your husband (wink). The activity helps boost confidence and reimagine your winter clothes. Who needs a shopping spree when you have outfits waiting to be discovered right at home?
13. Watch Your Favorite Holiday Movies
Holiday movies bring joy and often fond memories of childhood. Most holiday films pull at the heartstrings and have good moral values at the end. Holiday movies elevate the holiday spirit and let us appreciate the winter months. Stream your favorite holiday movie and let the nostalgia take over.
14. Daily Affirmations
Affirmations are a great form of behavioral therapy. Repetition of words and the belief in those words are powerful. It boosts motivation and self-esteem to say words to oneself that are compelling. Pick an affirmation that you enjoy and repeat to yourself whenever you feel depressed. Here are some great affirmations for people who struggle with depression.
15. Avoid Unpleasant Conversations
Nothing is more important than family. However, it’s fair to say that some family members can be toxic. If there is a family member that you don’t want to see during the winter months for whatever reason, you have the right not to. Cut out the people who make you feel bad about yourself so you can grow.
16. Winter Cleaning
A deep clean does not have to happen just during the spring. A clean home or room improves mental health through organizational practices. Don’t just make the bed; try reorganizing your closet or change around the furniture. Put on a fresh coat of paint. A new room can bring a new perspective on life.
Meditation is an excellent form of therapy. However, it is a little difficult to master. There are plenty of podcasts and videos that can help you through the art of meditation. It’s a great way to balance your inner aura and reflect on your life. Meditation can relieve stress and boost a positive attitude.
18. Adopt a Skin Care Routine
The winter months are not kind to the skin. The skin is prone to dry out more often because of the weather and constant heater use. Conduct some research and find a skincare routine that is right for your skin type. The routine can be a calming method to relax before the end of a long day.
19. Solve a Puzzle
Jigsaw puzzles are a great form of entertainment and build motor functioning skills. Get a 1000 piece puzzle and see if you can finish it before the winter months are gone. Whenever you feel overwhelmed or anxious, just sit down and work on your puzzle to distract your mind from outside worries.
20. Download a Coloring Book
Coloring is a fun activity that promotes stress relief. It’s also a great way to build creativity while destressing from the day. It doesn’t matter if you lack any artistic abilities because everyone is an artist with a coloring book. Here are a few printable designs for you to enjoy. Just grab some markers, crayons, or paint and start coloring!
21. Quiet Time
Sure, it may sound like something meant for a child, but adults need quiet time too! No, not with your phone… but a few minutes away on your own, distraction free. Sit down in a quiet area like a break room at work and just breathe. It’s a great way to restart your mind and body like a battery recharge.
22. Make a List of Your Faults
This one is going to be complicated. There are things we would all like to change about ourselves. Many of us want to be good people, but have trouble because we are all human. Make a list of all the things you would like to change about yourself. Remember, only list your faults and not your insecurities. You want to change the negative aspects of your life actively. Such as thinking more positively or embracing your loved ones more.
23. Take A Nice Warm Bath
A bath is a great way to relieve the body of built up stress. Stress lives in our muscles and bones. It affects the way we think and interact with others. A bath is a gentle way to calm the muscles down, especially during the winter. The cold is horrible to our joints, and a bath is great to relax the muscles.
24. Start a Journal
Journals are an excellent form of therapy and self-reflection. Do you have a voice inside your head that refuses to stay quiet as you fall asleep? Try to write in a journal right before bed about anything you wish. A journal improves mindfulness and lowers stress. To help get started, check out this guide that helps you begin a journaling habit!
25. Reward Yourself
Unfortunately, a lot of people do not take the time to appreciate other’s accomplishments… nor do we congratulate ourselves enough. If you have completed a goal, then you deserve to be celebrated! It’s okay to spoil yourself every once and a while to promote your efficiency. Do not overindulge, but buy yourself something nice or let yourself be happy. Either are appropriate rewards.
Final Thoughts on Winter Self-Care Ideas
This list of suggestions is a great start for anyone looking to practice self-care during the winter months. It may even inspire you to come up with a few ideas of your own.
But remember that a routine must be kept when practicing self-care in order for it to work it’s magic. If you skip a day because “life happens”… don’t beat yourself up over it. The whole point of self-care is to build yourself up, not tear yourself down.
Tell yourself that it’s okay to spend time on your own whenever possible because you deserve it. Likewise, tell your friends about the importance of self-care and check out these ways to help your friends smile. If you make others happy, you will also find happiness.
Stay warm this winter, and remember to practice your self-care routine as much as possible. And feel free to leave your suggestions and tricks in our comments section below!
Finally, if you want to increase your happiness and life satisfaction, then watch this free video that details the 7-minute habit for planning your day to focus on what's important.