The winter months can be challenging for maintaining health and well-being. The clocks have gone back, and we’ve already had a couple of extreme storms to announce that summer is well and truly over. And those shorter days, cold weather and other seasonal stresses take a toll. But with some proactive steps, you can support your physical and mental health through the winter. Here are practical self-care tips:
It’s tempting to hibernate indoors during winter, but regular movement is crucial for both physical and mental health. The more you stay indoors, the harder it’s going to be to get back out there. Bundle up and go for brisk walks to lift your mood while getting fresh air. Even short indoor workouts energise and reduce stress hormones. Staying active offsets seasonal sluggishness, and we could use all the help we can get.
Eat Nutritious Foods
Cold-weather cravings for comforting carbs and sugar are understandable. Everyone needs a treat every now and again when the weather is rubbish and you’re missing the sunshine. However, make sure your diet also includes plenty of immunity-boosting foods like citrus fruits, broccoli, nuts, and yoghurt. Hydrating foods like soups counter dry indoor air, and there is some truth to the old tale that chicken soup is good for colds (and the soul!). Treat yourself in moderation while still eating wholesomely.
Try A Light Therapy Lamp
Seasonal depression triggered by less sunlight affects many people. Light therapy lamps emitting 10,000 lux of bright white light can help counter the winter blues. Use for 30-60 minutes daily. The light stimulates serotonin production and circadian rhythms.
Do Things You Enjoy
Don’t let winter become all about work while your social life and hobbies fade. Schedule activities you find fun and fulfilling. Local attractions like museums, exhibits and shows give you something to anticipate. Creative pursuits keep your spirits up and distract you from dreariness.
Set A Consistent Sleep Routine
Darker mornings make waking up hard but don’t sacrifice sleep needs. Follow consistent bed and wake-up times to support your body’s circadian rhythms. Limit electronics before bed and create a restful environment. Adequate, quality sleep boosts immunity and mental health.
Avoid Excessive Alcohol
It’s easy to drink more in wintertime to unwind or socialise, but alcohol impairs immunity and disrupts sleep. Limit intake by having alcohol-free days and swapping every second drink for something non-alcoholic. Moderation prevents added winter health risks.
Seek Out Social Connections
It’s normal to feel more isolated in winter but don’t let social connections lapse. Try to call friends, organise online catchups and get together safely in person where possible. Sharing laughter and conversation uplifts mood and combats loneliness.
Reflect On Growth
Use slower winter days for reflection on lessons learned, goals achieved and personal growth over the past year. Consider what worked well along with things you could improve. Reflection clarifies priorities for the year ahead, so you enter spring feeling motivated.
Do Some Decluttering
Short winter days are perfect for sorting through belongings and decluttering what you no longer need. Donating unused items creates space and reduces stressful household chaos. The sense of order bestows mental clarity too.
Address Skin Issues That Have Been Bothering You
Many skin ailments worsen in winter, whether dryness, irritation, or conditions like eczema. Make time to visit a dermatologist if you have been putting it off. Treat the issue with recommended medicated lotions, supplements, or medications. Don’t endure discomforts that can be fixed. You don’t even have to go to a pharmacy in person if you don’t want to. You can find treatments for skin issues like eczema and acne, as well as many other health problems, at Oxford Online Pharmacy. They have been helping patients since 1925 and they have a 4.8 Trustpilot rating.
Make Small Home Improvements
When you’re indoors more, little annoyances like a dripping tap become intolerable. Fix nagging issues like draughty windows, sticking doors, and appliance repairs. A more comfortable home environment pays daily dividends for your well-being. Tick off those to-do list fixes.
Do Some Financial Planning
Winter downtime is perfect for sorting through finances and creating a budget, retirement plan or investment strategy. Feeling in control of money matters reduces stress. Even basic steps like consolidating accounts or tracking spending help. Look at the new year as a fresh fiscal start.
Try A New Hobby
Boredom and lack of variety drain mood in winter. Challenge yourself by attempting new hobbies that provide a creative outlet and distraction from the monotonous weeks. Photography, writing, painting, coding, woodworking – explore latent interests you now have time to pursue.
Plan mini-indulgences like a massage, manicure, new book, or cosy slippers to give yourself little pick-me-ups throughout winter. Savour favourite warm drinks and treats as well. Small comforts and self-kindness lift spirits during challenging times. They might seem unnecessary, but just wait until you try them.
Catch Up On Check-ups
Take advantage of slower schedules to book overdue health appointments like GP visits, dental cleanings, eye exams and screening tests. You might be waiting a long time for one, but it’s always better to get it in the diary. Don’t neglect issues assuming they can just wait until spring. Proactive healthcare helps keep you well.
Caring for living things is therapeutic and houseplants boost air quality. Add new greenery to your home and be diligent about watering and feeding plants. Trimming back overgrowth keeps them thriving. Plants provide mood-lifting life amid winter greys.
Have Warming Food and Drinks
Cold weather calls for heartier, warming cuisine and hot beverages. Enjoy oatmeal, stews, baked potatoes, tea, mulled wine, and soup. Savouring comforting flavours while warming fingers and bellies on frosty days is simple but soothing.
Make Travel Plans
Having an exciting trip to anticipate helps counter winter doldrums. Even if planned for later in the year, the planning process itself builds positivity. Browse inspiring destinations, create an itinerary and research activities. Pleasant daydreams provide respite from any seasonal stresses.
Use Stress Management Techniques
When daily frustrations feel amplified, practice mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises to reset your outlook. Lowering stress levels helps prevent anxiety and depression. Don’t write off these techniques, and remember that different things work for different people. If you find that breathing exercises are just winding you up even more, try something different!
Recognise Post-Holiday Let-down
The period right after the holidays can bring sadness from re-adapting to regular routines. Acknowledge these feelings as normal responses to changing stimuli and social pace. Be compassionate with yourself and focus on little goals and pleasures in the meantime.
See Your Doctor If Needed
Don’t hesitate to see a doctor if seasonal blues persist despite lifestyle efforts. SAD is a form of depression treatable through counselling, light therapy and in some cases medications. Getting help enables you to enjoy life fully year-round.
Small proactive steps to support your physical, mental, and emotional health can make winter’s challenges more manageable. Nurturing social connections, maintaining routines, trying new pursuits, and not neglecting minor health issues sustain well-being even when conditions feel bleak. With self-care as a priority, you can thrive through the colder months.