While the wintertime brings its own charm, it also means colder weather, darker evenings, and an overall dampened mood.
It's no surprise that many of us find the winter months to be a challenging period for both physical and mental well-being. In fact, it's estimated that 10 - 20% of people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mild form of depression that typically begins in the late fall and early winter.
However, there's no need for winter weather to cast a gloom over your spirits. In fact, we encourage you to prioritize health and wellness by actively seeking ways to enhance your mood and mindset during this time.
So together, let's explore 5 tips to fight through the winter blues and pave the way for a great rest of the year.
Soak Up the Sunshine
One of the simplest and most effective ways to boost your spirits in the winter months is by getting more sunlight throughout the day.
Natural sunlight isn't just a source of warmth — in fact, studies have shown that even as little as 10 minutes of sunlight each day can improve your quality of life. Regular exposure to sunlight can greatly boost your mood, improve your sleep schedule, provide essential nutrients for your body, and even reduce high blood pressure.
On the other hand, a lack of sunlight has been associated with symptoms of depression, Vitamin D deficiency, and numerous other health issues — both physical and mental.
There are a few easy steps you can take to add some sun into your everyday routine, even if you spend most of your time indoors.
For instance, just open up your curtains or blinds first thing in the morning to let in some extra light. This can jumpstart your circadian rhythm, (a.k.a. your body's internal clock) and put you in a great mood to start off the day.
Another tip: try positioning your workspace next to the window. Immersing yourself in natural light while you work can actually improve your brain function and productivity.
And finally, when you're done with your daily tasks or just taking a quick break, try going for a stroll outside. Sure, it might be a bit chilly, but just put on some layers, brave the winter weather, and enjoy the fresh air and direct sunlight that you deserve.
Make Exercise a Daily Habit
During the colder months, it might be tempting to sit back and curl up on the couch during your free time.
While there's certainly a place for rest and relaxation, getting active is a great way to not only keep your physical health in peak condition, but also improve your mental wellness.
Just a little bit of physical activity in your daily routine is enough to prevent weight gain, boost energy levels, lighten up your mood, and even improve the quality of your sleep, as Mayo Clinic explains.
The beauty of exercise is that it comes in all different forms, so there's sure to be a perfect fit for you.
Whether it's hitting the gym, engaging in a HIIT session, practicing yoga, or even getting in a snowball fight, regular exercise is a cornerstone of your overall health well-being — and a perfect antidote for the winter blues.
Cozy Up to a Good Book
When it's time to rest and recover from an active day, reading is the perfect activity.
Exercising your mind is just as important as exercising your body, and curling up with a good book is a great way to do so. There's science showing that reading helps to improve critical thinking skills, reduces stress levels, and might even add years to your life.
So instead of spending time on social media or responding to work emails during your free time, consider cozying up with a good book.
Just like exercise, books also come in many different forms, so there's sure to be a one for your interests.
A captivating novel can light up your imagination and transport you to new worlds. An inspiring self-improvement book can do wonders for your mindset and productivity. Even a short story or poetry collection can fill your mind with comforting warmth and beauty.
Whatever your thing is, there's no doubt that reading provides numerous benefits for your health and wellness.
And as a bonus, cuddling up with a book before bedtime can even help ease you into a restful sleep.
Write Down Reflections in a Journal
Exploring the world of words is wonderful, but why not try writing your own?
Winter is a time that often invites powerful moments of reflection and introspection. So it may just be the perfect time to start writing down some of your thoughts.
Besides the simple act of putting pen to paper, journaling is shown to be a powerful tool that offers a number of benefits for your health and well-being.
Just like reading, journaling is another great way to wind down after a long day. It's an opportunity to get your creative juices flowing and to practice mindfulness — the act of simply being present in the moment (instead of being occupied with the distractions of everyday life.).
There are many ways to express your thoughts through writing. One common practice is gratitude journaling, or simply writing down a list of things you're grateful for, which can instantly boost your mood. Alternatively, you could simply take a few minutes to write about your day along with anything that's on your mind.
Whatever way you like to journal, it's sure to be a valuable addition to your winter wellness routine.
Savor Moments With Friends and Family
In an era dominated by social media and screen time, it's more important than ever to rediscover the joy of face-to-face connection. Wintertime brings plenty of opportunities to engage with the people around you.
During these colder months, be sure to embrace gatherings with friends and family, or even trying small gestures like picking up the phone to reconnect or strengthen bonds with an old acquaintance. While it might feel counterintuitive to reach out or connect when you're feeling down, doing so can actually help to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
We all go through difficulties from time to time, and spending time with your loved ones is the best way to minimize stress, explains Dr. Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital:
“People are emotion regulators. When someone you trust listens to you, you can feel your body calm down. Your blood pressure returns to baseline, your levels of stress hormones decrease. It takes us out of 'fight or flight' mode, which can gradually break down the body if we're stressed all the time.”
These insights remind us of the meaningful impact that social connections can have on our well-being, especially in this day and age. So as you navigate your wellness journey through the challenging winter season, remember to always stop and savor the moments with friends and loved ones — not only to uplift your own mood, but also to strengthen your lifelong relationships.