Self-care is important year-round. But when the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, self-care is even more critical. Anecdotally, we know that winter brings some additional challenges to our mental health. And although suicide rates actually decrease during the winter, the season does see a slight increase in rates of depression. This type of depression, that appears at the beginning of winter and subsides at the beginning of spring, is known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and affects approximately 5% of the population.
No matter what your mental health looks like, here are 15 self-care ideas to make the season a little bit more manageable. Remember, these are only suggestions. If you find yourself seriously struggling to function during the winter, talk to a medical professional about your options. You can also reach out to a volunteer Crisis Counselor by texting 741741.
- Go outside at least once a day. Do your best to get outside at once a day, or at least get some natural sunlight in. Winter days are shorter, which means there’s less light, which can be a serious trigger for those with seasonal depression.
- Get a depression screening. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with seasonal depressive disorder, winter weather can bring down your mood. Many clinics will offer free screenings that are open to the public.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. It’s totally natural to drink more coffee or tea during the winter months. However, these beverages plus the drying weather is a recipe for serious dehydration. Be conscious that you’re still drinking water to keep your body well hydrated.
- Protect your sleep. Fewer hours of sunlight during the winter months can make it harder to feel awake throughout the day. Staying well rested is critical to making the winter months feel manageable.
- Maintain your physical health. Physical health is just as important for maintaining good mental health. If the winter weather prevents you from exercising outside, look for things you can do inside, like yoga or Zumba. Even putting aside time to stretch every day can make a huge difference.
- Keep making plans with people. It can be easy to make fewer plans because it’s getting colder outside and darker earlier in the day. Fight the urge to burrow into your couch; make it a priority to see those people you care about.
Ready to meet new people? Apply to be a Crisis Counselor and join a community of empathy MVPs, all from the comfort of your own home.
Self-Care You Can Post On Instagram
Bake some sweet seasonal treats. Cookies, pies, muffins — anything that that is warm and reminiscent of your grandparents’ house.
Choose a new favorite piece of winter clothing. Stock up on scarves, gloves, or fuzzy socks that you can wear under your boots. Ideally, the softer the better.
Volunteer! Whether it’s at a food bank or as a Crisis Counselor, finding a way to warm your spirit is just as important as warming your body.
Dive back into reading. Winter is the best time to start that book that’s been on your coffee table for the past few months. Curl up in front of a fire with hot cocoa and nice book. The more blankets you can pile on, the better.
Get into face masks. Winter air can seriously dry out your skin, which means it’s the perfect time to try out one of those cute face masks you’ve seen on the Internet.
Find a winter hobby. Knitting, sewing, crocheting — not only are they fun hobbies to have but the end result is cozy and seasonally appropriate!
Discover your favorite winter scent. Whether it’s through aromatherapy or by experimenting with new candles, now is your time to find what smells make you happy.
Try out new winter recipes. Soups, paninis, chillis – any food that helps warm you from the inside out.
Learn to love the snow. Let the snowfall on your tongue, ice skate with friends, build a snowman if you’re feeling ambitious. Even if you’re not the biggest snow fan, find a way to make snow something to look forward to, rather than something to dread.
What’s your favorite winter self-care? Trying one of these for the first time? Post it on Instagram using the tag #wecareaboutselfcare. We’re always looking for new ideas.