The change in season brings with it colder weather, less daylight, and sometimes, an imbalance in our wellbeing and general mood. It’s long been known that the winter months test our mental health and wellbeing, with conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder being recognized, and known to be more common, at this time of year.
During colder and darker days, our mood can dip as we feel less inclined to socialize, leave the house and connect with friends and family. Furthermore, it can be even more difficult to find the motivation to exercise and travel, which are both activities that usually boost an individual’s wellbeing. If not regulated and managed, these factors can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation and helplessness, which is why it’s so important to focus on self-care and nurturing your health and wellbeing during this time of year.
With seemingly shorter days due to darker evenings, many of us feel like we have less time during the winter months, especially in the week when we are trying to fit in work, a social life, and other responsibilities in our lives. As a result, self-care and wellbeing practices can slip down on your list of priorities, with many of us focusing on work, family, and friends and leaving little to no time for ourselves.
However, even with less daylight, there are ways we can practice self-care while balancing our other commitments. In fact, with fewer light evenings for strolls in the park and alfresco dinners, why not dedicate one week-day evening to yourself? Use this time to disconnect from work and your phone and create a relaxing atmosphere by creating different lighting effects, such as candles, cozy up with a book or do a writing exercise – whatever helps you to unwind.
If you prefer to stay active and would usually run, walk, or practice yoga after work, consider ways you can stay active indoors. Create a dedicated space and time slot at home where you can stretch and practice an exercise routine, either joining a virtual class or taking part in an online tutorial – if you struggle to motivate yourself to exercise during winter, this can be a helpful alternative to keeping active. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself, and to start with you can focus on slow movements and stretches that you can do in comfy clothes.
If you’d usually spend a lot of your free time socializing with friends, this may have become more difficult during winter, as many people don’t feel as motivated to travel or leave the house after temperatures drop. With this in mind, consider ways you can still maintain your social life, perhaps by regularly checking in with WhatsApp groups, or starting a weekly call with a friend to discuss a book you are both reading.
Alongside your personal commitments, it can be difficult to dedicate time to yourself when you have a full-time job, especially as the evening draws in before you’ve finished the working day. It’s worth checking in with your employer to see if you are able to work flexible hours during the winter so you can make the most of the daylight. Whether that’s using an extended lunch break to take in the winter sun or listen to a podcast, starting earlier in the morning so you can finish in time to enjoy the last light hour of the day, or working remotely to combat long commute times - consider reaching out to see what support is available.
Show yourself some love with a nourishing, hearty winter meal. A new season is a great excuse to discover seasonal ingredients and try out some new recipes. Not only will this engage your body and mind, but it gives you a reason to enjoy spending time in your home. If cooking isn’t your thing, invest in self-love by treating yourself to a delicious take-away of your choice, your favorite chocolate, or a bunch of flowers.
We’ve already mentioned the shorter days and lack of sunshine during the winter, but the light really does make a difference to our well-being. In relation to people living with Seasonal Affective Disorder, studies have shown that they have difficulty regulating the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, which is believed to be responsible for balancing mood. In fact, natural light is often prescribed as part of the overall treatment for patients living with this disorder. Therefore, do what you can to make the most of natural light - if getting out in the fresh air before and after work isn’t an option for you, ensure you open up curtains, blinds, and windows around your home or workplace to help boost your mood.
With our mood and motivation lacking in the winter, it’s important to find the right balance between getting out and about and having slower days at home. It’s not necessarily helpful to spend so much time indoors that you start to feel isolated, yet equally, it’s might not feel calming to make plans night after night, as you could end up exhausting yourself for the sake of socialising. Consider how you can prioritise your social plans and make sure you are only committing to activities that will bring you joy, rather than simply filling a gap in your diary.
Self-care in the wellbeing industry is often thought of as taking care of our minds, however it’s important to show our bodies some love too. Try to take some time to invest in a good skincare routine, for your face and body. You could use darker evenings, where you would usually be outdoors, to draw a nice bath and put on a face mask or hair treatment. Our skin and hair is likely to suffer during winter months, just like our mood, so taking a few hours to nourish our physical self is also time well spent.
It can be tempting to use our phones as a way to stay connected during winter months, particularly if we are perhaps not seeing friends and family as much. While our phones and laptops are a great way to keep in touch, they can also end up becoming a source of stress, therefore it’s important to try to ensure a balance between staying connected and spending time away from your digital devices. Choose pockets of time where you don’t need your phone to read a book, enjoy a soothing bath, or indulge in a writing exercise like journaling.
Whether it’s lighting a candle, pulling a blanket over you in the evenings, having a hot drink in your favourite mug, or listening to a curated playlist, enjoying small pleasures is a simple way to boost your wellbeing. Embracing the small acts of self-care can help you to connect to the moment, feel more present, and be self-aware.
Original source: 6 winter self-care tips to know