The “winter blues” affect many people each year; this year being no exception. With the large impact that COVID-19 still has around the world, the winter months may be exceptionally difficult for many. It is imperative to keep your mental health in check during these months, and there are several ways you can boost your mood when the days are shorter and colder.
Get outside when weather allows. Even though it’s less enjoyable to be outside when temperatures become frigid, studies show that getting outside for a little while each day can be beneficial. On a sunny winter day, grab your jacket and gloves and get some fresh air and Vitamin D. We recommend taking a walk around your neighborhood or exploring a local park or walkway path. Always remember to follow social distancing guidelines during physical activity.
Exercise. Exercise not only improves your physical health, but your mental health as well! “Exercising is an excellent way to combat the winter blues,” says Dr. Ann Chuang, “Instead of starting January 1st, start December 1st instead. I find that the masks are more and more comfortable as the temperature drops.” Getting 30 minutes a day of exercise can make a huge difference in your mood. Try doing a home workout video if it’s too cold to be outside! “Exercise helps, especially hot yoga, since it makes it feel like summer for an hour.” Says Dr. Desiree D’Angelo, “Although hot yoga is cancelled due to COVID, I will do a practice in front of our electric fireplace and I get the same effect.”
Practice self-care. At least once per week, do something that brings you peace. Take a bubble bath, do yoga, meditate, or read a book. Treating yourself to at least an hour a week dedicated just for you will help elevate your mood.
Invest in a fire pit. If you don’t already have one, consider purchasing a fire pit if possible. “This is a perfect way to have a socially distanced hang out with close friends. You will be warm and get to enjoy the beautiful fire!” Dr. Chuang says.
Check in on friends. This year especially, the winter months may be challenging and lonely for many. Make a point to check in on your friends and loved ones. A simple call or text message can mean a lot.
Partake in holiday shopping. Shopping for yourself can certainly boost your mood but finding the perfect gift for a loved one can also bring you some happiness during this difficult year. Selecting thoughtful gifts will be sure to bring a smile to the faces of your family and friends.
Make some mulled wine or cider, put on your favorite winter PJ’S and watch your favorite holiday movies. As the days get shorter and it is dark much earlier, use this opportunity to carry on some favorite winter/ holiday traditions. Stay cozy indoors with family or friends!
Finally, don’t hesitate to seek professional mental health services.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you just can’t seem to escape the winter blues, you may be experiencing a more serious mental health condition like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The best piece of advice is to seek professional help when you need it.There are several strategies that can help with symptoms of SAD including talk therapy, medications, and light box therapy. Light box therapy includes various sized light boxes that emit a wavelength of light like that of the sun. You can use the light when you wake up in the morning for a period ranging from 15 min to 45 min depending on your needs. The light simulates the sun, thus stimulating your brain and tricking it into thinking it light outside. With repeated use, it changes your circadian rhythm.