Staying Well in the Winter Months
By Allison Miller
A lot of us have probably experienced some form of feeling down in the winter months. We spend a lot less time enjoying the activities we prefer to do outside in the sunshine, like going on walks or visiting parks, as the weather is chillier, and the sky is grayer. Although it can be difficult, there are always a few things we may try to shake off the funk that can set in.
Honor your body and what it craves: Our bodies do a lot for us. The least we can do in return is honor our bodies by nourishing ourselves with the things that make us feel good. Some days, you may be craving some serious nourishment, so you make a giant salad packed full of greens and veggies. There are other days when you might crave a warm cookie on a chilly night. It is entirely okay to satisfy these wants and needs! Prioritizing balance makes all the difference in a time where your body and mind need kindness more than ever.
Keep moving even when it is not easy: When it is cold outside, usually the last thing we want to do is spend time outside running or going on a walk. However, as little as 15 extra minutes of high-intensity exercise – or one hour of low-intensity exercise – per day has been proven to help boost your mood. More often than you might imagine. Taking a break from your day-to-day to exercise, in whatever way you deem fit may be helpful. Some easy activities to incorporate into your day are stretching, taking the stairs instead of an elevator, or housework.
Keep your brain engaged: Whether it is a new hobby, something you already enjoy, or work, keeping your brain engaged can help distract you from the winter blues creeping in. Finding new ways to keep your mind active throughout the day can make you feel more purposeful and energized. Working with others also increases your social engagement and has been linked to lower rates of depression. Some easy activities and hobbies to keep your mind occupied instead of stagnant include reading, knitting, or crocheting, and doing puzzles.
Take time to prioritize yourself: Taking a few minutes each day to really connect with your own mind and body makes all the difference when you may be feeling down. From taking a solo walk, to meditating for 10 minutes every day, finding time for yourself is crucial to your body's mental and physical health. It is easy to fall into the cycle of only doing the tasks that are required of us by outside sources, but we are often happiest when doing the things that benefit our own mental wellness.
Sometimes it is hard to remember that there are brighter summer days ahead. For now, there are a few strategies to fight off winter blues when we sense them coming on. It is never a bad idea to nourish and honor your body and mind, and the benefits to your overall mental health are evident.