As the days get colder and shorter in wintertime, the winter can often make us feel down in the dumps. A lack of sunlight is known to cause our mood to drop while some people can experience bouts of depression. On our darkest days, it’s easy to fall into the trap of staying in and not engaging in any form of self-care, especially when it’s frigid out and all we want to do is hibernate. Because of this, it can feel harder to take care of ourselves in the winter.
According to psychotherapist Emily Roberts, self-care during the colder months can be challenging while we can easily forget to tune into what our bodies really need. With this, we rounded up a few things to keep in mind during the winter months.
Sometimes we self-sabotage
While staying in and binging on the newest show on Netflix may sound like a good idea, it’s important to recognize how secluding ourselves in this way can actually be a form of self-sabotage. In fact, isolating ourselves can perpetrate feelings of anxiety and depression, causing us to stay stuck in challenging thought patterns. With this, it’s important for us to get out of the house as getting some fresh air, physical activity and sunlight helps us stay grounded and allows us to better regulate our emotions so we can maintain a clear and healthy mind.
Be kind to yourself
When our moods drop, it can cause an influx of self-criticism and intrusive thoughts. Whenever you notice this happening, make a conscious effort to be kind to yourself. It’s okay to have these kinds of thoughts, but instead of numbing yourself try to practice mindfulness and self-compassion. Notice the voice that pops into your head and the tone when you speak to yourself. Are there ways you could be kinder to yourself?
Do something small
At times, practicing self-care can feel overwhelming especially when it’s cold out. With this, Roberts recommends doing small activities to keep yourself going as even a ten minute activity can help boost our moods. For example, try running a quick errand or arranging a coffee date with a friend, which will help you get out of the house.
Boost your immunity
During the winter there’s often a lot of sickness going around, which can also impact our mental health, so it’s important to do things that boost your immunity. Roberts recommends taking supplements, and eating and drinking warm things things that fuel you. “Instead of listening to a diet or what someone says I should eat, I try to take a moment to be mindful of what my body needs,” says Roberts. Beyond this, it’s important to make sure you’re eating regular, healthy meals and keeping your body hydrated.
Honor your energy - and don’t be afraid to say no
During the winter (and beyond), it’s important to pay attention to your energy levels, mood, and how different people, experiences or opportunities make you feel. For example, Roberts say that if you don’t feel motivated, it might be the time to say no. “Saying no is an act of self-care,” she believes. With this, it’s not worth compromising your well-being to spend time on things that drain you. For example, Roberts suggests Skyping with a friend from out of town, instead of hanging out with people who mistreat you or deplete your energy.
This winter, consider how you can improve your mental and physical health while honoring what you need to feel like your best self.
Photo by Lauren Tepfer