As the days begin to get colder, many people start experiencing the symptoms of the “winter blues.”
Some people welcome the colder weather while others dread knowing what the new season means: long nights, short days, and COLD. Fall is a time to bust out the warm clothing, enjoy a hot drink, watch the trees change colors, and establish good fall & winter self-care habits. As the days grow colder, shorter, and grayer, the weather and what we do are not the only things that change. Moods can also shift, and increased feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety can set in or worsen. Additionally, COVID19 continues to further impact our mood and what we can do about it.
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Practicing fall & winter self-care
Just like the seasons transition, so must your self-care habits. If you have strategies that are helpful during warmer months, find ways to modify them for the cold weather. For example, if you enjoyed morning walks with a friend during the summer, you can adjust the time of the walk to maximize daylight hours and bundle up to stay warm. Obviously, some summer self-care habits will not be possible. Some will need to be replaced due to colder temperatures and COVID19 guidelines.
Here are some fall & winter self-care habits to make the best of the cold weather:
1. Get outside
Continue to go outdoors as much as possible. Even if the time may be shorter or you have to wear more warm clothing, the fresh air and change of scenery will always benefit your mental health. Plus, exposure to sunlight has proven to positively impact mood.
2. Connect with family and/or friends
Find ways to interact with those that you are close to. Phone calls, texts, video calls, and walks are just a few helpful ways to talk to and spend time with important people in your life.
3. Decorate your home for the different seasons and/or holidays
Practice self-care by making the space that you spend the majority of your time in more comfortable and inviting. The change in scenery every few weeks or months will also help you feel like time is less of a blur.
4. Enjoy warm drinks every day
Whether it is a cup of coffee, tea, or warm milk, find something that feels soothing and comforting during the colder months.
5. Stay active
If being active outside when it’s cold is too much for you, make sure you have a plan to stay active while indoors. Activities like yoga and stretching are some possible options. Put it on your schedule, set reminders, or lay out your workout clothes the night before to help keep you accountable. Your body and mind will thank you later.
6. Explore hobbies
With more time indoors, you will naturally have more time explore hobbies and projects. If you are not sure about your hobbies or interests, you might consider reading, baking or cooking, painting or drawing, or learning a new skill. Projects like organizing have the dual benefit of occupying your time and making your space feel more comfortable.
7. Keep alcohol intake to a minimum
Alcohol can increase feelings of depression and anxiety and can negatively impact sleep. By being mindful about how much you drink, you will further protect your mental health.
8. Talk to a counselor about fall & winter self-care habits
Counseling is not just for those who are at rock-bottom. Meeting with a licensed mental health professional can provide you with self-care accountability. It can also be an avenue to explore ways to care for yourself that you may never have considered before.
Whether you love cold weather or prefer the warmer months, everyone will need to adjust their self-care routines as the days grow shorter and the cold weather sets in. By taking the change of seasons in stride rather than getting stuck in the negative thinking about the cold weather, you will feel more balanced in how you approach each day, regardless of the weather outside. Are you looking for a clinician to help you on your journey to learn how to cope with your mood shifts that occur when the seasons change? Our clinicians are ready to help!