While practicing self-care is essential year-round, it’s especially important during the winter months. Bone-chilling temperatures, shorter days and social isolation can lead to increased feelings of sadness and anxiety. Add holiday stress to the equation, and many people feel burnt out and exhausted this time of year.
Practicing self-care forces us to slow down and find a little calm amidst the chaos. Even so, finding the time for self-care during the holiday season is often easier said than done.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of easy self-care tips and practices for winter. Keep reading for easy ways you can carve out some “me” time in the winter and get through the colder, darker days ahead.
1.Start with basic sleep hygiene
If you want to boost your mental health this winter, improving your sleep hygiene is a great place to start. Sleep influences a number of functions in the body, including mood, sleep and appetite.
Make sure you’re going to bed and waking up at the same time every day — even on the weekends. This will help maintain your body’s internal clock so you can settle into sleep more easily.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep at your regular time, you may want to consider using natural sleep aids to help you wind down for bed. Something as simple as wearing a sleep mask or using a dawn simulator could be the key to getting better snooze this winter.
2.Put a healthy spin on comfort foods
Winter is synonymous with savory comfort foods. But beware: these delicious foods often come in the form of highly refined carbohydrates that are known to spike blood pressure and potentially worsen symptoms of depression.
Try to limit your consumption of traditional comfort foods and search for healthier alternatives instead. From cauliflower “mac” and cheese to slow cooker paleo meatballs, there are plenty of comfort food recipes that will delight your taste buds without tanking your mood. Bonus self-care points if you grab a friend and make the recipe together!
3.Get daily exercise
Finding the motivation to work out in the winter can be tricky, but it’s far from impossible. The key is to find something you enjoy doing, whether it’s skiing, ice skating or building snowmen with the kids. If you don’t enjoy cold weather activities, hit the gym and do a workout while listening to your favorite podcast.
Not a fan of the gym? Check out YouTube for an easy workout you can do at home with zero equipment. Alternatively, you can blast some music and have a solo dance party.
4.Schedule time for relaxing activities
The holidays can be a whirlwind of family gatherings, shopping and social obligations. If you want to stay sane this winter, carving out plenty of time for relaxing activities is essential. In the evening, after the hubbub dies down, snuggle up to a weighted throw blanket in front of a warm fire and read a good book to help you relax before bed. During the day, make time for meditation, exercise and other soothing activities.
5.Tailor your positive affirmations to the season
Positive affirmations, or statements used to challenge negative thoughts, are a great way to relieve stress and boost your motivation during the winter months. Knowing how to challenge your negative thoughts is particularly helpful during the holiday season when everyone has high expectations for the upcoming festivities. Start by writing down some positive affirmations and tailor them to your situation or needs. For example, if you’re stressing over your relatives potentially criticizing your life choices, you can use positive affirmations such as, “I am right where I am for a reason” or “I am enough.”
6.Prepare for snow days with cozy indoor activities
Are you already starting to get cabin fever? Instead of grumbling about being stuck inside, make a list of cozy indoor activities that actually make you look forward to snow days.
Here are a few ideas to add to your list:
- Bake cookies with the family
- Have a movie night
- Play board games
- Make crafts
- Spend time in a cozy café
- Read a book
7.Get some fresh air
When temperatures start to plummet, it’s only natural to want to stay indoors and hibernate for the winter. But did you know that spending time outside — even when it’s freezing cold — can do your mind and body a ton of good? Exposure to sunlight, even in small amounts, can increase your daily intake of vitamin D, which plays a role in everything from digestion to our sleep-wake cycle. Before you brave the cold, remember to bundle up in warm layers and take breaks every 30 minutes.
Even though you may not feel as thirsty this time of year, staying hydrated is just as critical in the winter as it is in the summertime. That’s because your body can expend a surprising number of calories trying to stay warm in the winter, resulting in a higher loss of bodily fluids. To keep winter dehydration at bay, set a daily water intake goal and keep track of how much water you drink every day. If you keep falling short of your goal, try adding flavor to your water or eating spicy foods to help increase your natural thirst response.