As the weather gets colder we tend to spend more time indoors. Spending too much time indoors can also really impact our mental health, especially if we aren’t getting much physical activity. Try making time to get active inside or bundle up and go for a refreshing walk.
Sometimes getting up in the morning can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re still feeling sleepy and it’s cold outside. Try drinking a cold glass of water to help you wake up – it naturally increases adrenaline, which can improve alertness!
If winter is hard for you, it’s crucial to set even a mini self care goal each day; so, something small and easily reachable, e.g. ‘write in my journal’ or ‘call a friend’.
An estimated 2-3% of Canadians have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a subtype of depression that occurs in a seasonal pattern. Most often, it’s fall and winter that folks with SAD struggle. See Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder to learn more, including tips for managing it.
Celebrate whenever you have the opportunity, and that can include making up your own reasons for a celebration! Consider learning about the festive traditions of cultures or religions different from yours, too.
Does the snow have you feeling down? Think about some ways you might be able to use the snow to bring about some positive feelings. That could be building a snowman, going tobogganing, ice-skating, skiing, etc.! If it helps, bring someone along with you to try it out!
The winter season can be tough for a lot of folks. If you’re feeling up to it, try doing a random act of kindness; not only can it bring some light and warmth to someone else, but it might feel good for you too! Check out Random Acts of Kindness for some ideas.
It can become second nature to go into hibernation mode in the winter, which can feel lonely. If you can, aim to connect with friends or family at least a couple times a week. This could be sending a text, scheduling a video call, or making plans to meet up in person.
Since we tend to be indoors a lot more during the winter, it’s good to have at least one area that can bring you comfort. Try to clean and declutter this area, even if it’s small steps each day. Set out items that are comforting too, e.g. images, quotes, candles, etc.
Making a warm meal every night can be overwhelming. Some people find it helps to meal prep i.e. make food items in bulk so you can have a few days made at a time. That way, maybe the next couple days all you have to do is reheat it in the microwave and it’s ready to eat!
Try learning a new skill over the winter! Check out tutorials on Youtube or a free workshop on Eventbrite to help you. Learning new skills is good for our overall brain health, and it can be a way to connect with others by joining groups or communities about the skill!
Sometimes when we’re feeling down we may not feel like talking, but just the silent company of someone supportive can bring comfort. If both of you are huggers, a warm embrace can physically produce a sense of calm. Even snuggling a pet or stuffed animal can be soothing.
Is it cold and snowy? Pick a book that’s been on your “want to read” list for a while. Snuggle up with a cup of tea, some comfy clothes or a blanket, and read away. This cozy combination can be a great way to soothe some stress.
Feeling festive? If it’s in the budget, you could craft your own seasonal decors. A wreath, ornament, whatever you’d like! Not in the budget? Many areas have “Buy Nothing” or similar Facebook groups where things are given for free. Try asking there for festive decors!
Looking for a low-budget activity to do with friends? Take turns hosting movie nights, snacks optional! It can be a simple way to give you all something to look forward to every so often.
When possible, try getting outside to soak up some vitamin D. If that’s tough with your schedule, consider asking your health care provider about taking supplements and using a light therapy lamp. Check if any of your local libraries have light therapy lamps, some do!
There’s something that can be so comforting about warm, homemade eats in the winter. If doing your own cooking or baking feels intimidating, try asking a friend or relative who is more experienced if you can make something together!
Something as seemingly small as the apps, files, and folders on our devices being in disarray can impact our stress. Try to do some digital organizing and decluttering to ease even a tiny bit of stress during what can already be an especially stressful time of year!
Do you find that the quiet and stillness of winter can sometimes feel too heavy or dull? Try putting on some ambient music for background noise throughout your day. There is a lot of great research pointing to its therapeutic benefits!
There can be a lot of expectations around being jolly and festive during the holiday season, but that’s not always realistic. It’s important to give yourself grace and compassion if this is a struggle for you, while also giving permission to feel joy where you can.
The messages we receive through diet-culture can be especially harmful around holidays. It’s okay to challenge, redirect, or step out of conversations about weight, dieting, or exercise during a gathering. You deserve to be nourished and to eat for pleasure!
Sometimes it helps to have a visual reminder of the things that make you happy! Make a collage about five things you’re grateful for. Hang it up somewhere to remind you of what matters. Don’t be scared to get creative!
Do you lean towards wearing darker colours in the winter? If there’s something in your wardrobe that’s bright (and that you like), change things up and wear it some day this week. It can be a nice change and balance the dullness outside!
For many, humour can be a great coping tool. If winter or the holidays have been tough, snuggle up for your favourite funny movie, show, etc., with a hot drink. Sometimes it’s hard to laugh, but chances are that playing a favourite comedy will still offer some comfort.
Consider trying hot yoga. It can have many physical and mental health benefits, and can bring a warmth to your mind and spirit that lasts beyond the session. This is one great way to be active and increase social connections over the winter months.
Having flowers or other plants in our space can have many benefits for our well-being. If you can, buy from local growers or look for plants and seeds that have a certified fair trade label. Read more on the health benefits of fresh flowers, Flower Power: The Surprising Health Benefits of Flowers.
The wintertime is known to make you feel more tired and sleepy due to the lack of sunlight and vitamin D. Consider going to sleep early tonight to catch up and hopefully feel more well-rested and energetic when you wake up.
Winter can be a great time to pursue new interests to help fight cabin fever. Look for community events or classes that you can take during this time to learn new things or to keep yourself curious and creative during these months.
Winter months can often be associated with an elevated level of stress and exhaustion, so keeping a balance between the things you have to do and the things you want to do is very important to help reduce burnout.
Gratitude can be a helpful tool to bring with you into the new year as you reflect on the last 12 months. Making time to name things you’re grateful for can be really helpful for our mental health, but remember that doesn’t mean invalidating or dismissing your struggles!