As we start to head towards winter and experience drastic change in temperatures and extreme weather, practicing self-care to preserve your health and mental well-being and care for your body is vital. The harsh winters can be relentless and, as such, being able to put habits in place to protect your health as the mercury drops.
So before you succumb to the chill and inevitable onslaught of winter bugs and illnesses, this post looks at all the ways the winter can affect you and how you can combat the strain of the winter months to emerge on the other side without too much stress.
As the days become darker and shorter, more and more people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and it’s thought that around 10 million people in the US are affected, with many people not even realizing this is what they have. A lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, feeling low, tearful, anxious, or coming down with more illnesses can be indicators you are struggling with this common condition, especially if you do not feel this way in the summer.
Being able to recognize these signs can help you to get the treatment you need to combat this condition. You can use a light source that mimics natural light to bring more light into your day and boost your mood. Other tips for treating seasonal affective disorder include
- Getting out and about during the daylight for at least 15 minutes per day
- Getting regular exercise, even just a walk in your local neighborhood can be beneficial
- Talk to family and friends about how you feel
- Regulate your sleeping patterns
- Eat well
- Stay hydrated
- Take up a new hobby
If these solutions don’t help you, it can be worth talking to your primary care physician about getting treatment to help with your conditions and boost your mental health to help you get through the winter.
It’s worth noting that SAD can also impact existing mental health disorders, meaning that your symptoms feel worse or out of control, and you cannot cope the same way that you maybe did during the warmer months of the year. There is also a link to increased substance abuse disorders in adults and SAD; however, it’s noted that the winter is also the time that most people with substance abuse disorders seek treatment over the winter months. This can be spurred on by increased loneliness, spending more time indoors, or feeling the stress of the holiday season to either exacerbate issues or spur them to seek help. Noticing any changes in your mental health or habits during this item should be the push you need to seek help and support.
Typically, sedentary behavior is more common during the winter months than in spring or summer, for example. There are many reasons for this, but mostly, the lack of daylight, colder temperatures, and harsher weather all play a part in people becoming less inclined to ghetto out and move instead of snuggling up somewhere warm.
However, it is still just as crucial for you to stay as active during the winter as at any other time of the year. The benefits of exercise have long been documented and are instrumental in helping you not only retain fitness and peak health but also ward off the winter blues.
But what if you don’t want to get out and exercise during the winter? What if it’s too cold or the climate is unsuitable for your regular activities? Switching it up won’t harm you, and finding something you can stick to is essential, even if just for a few months.
Some good ideas to help you stay active include;
- Try at-home workouts; use YouTube or social media influencers to hope you find exercises you can do and stick to. It might mean you need to invest in some equipment at home; exercise bands can be helpful to for at-home workouts, as can dumbbells too.
- Find a workout class or group to lean on for motivation and support. The more support you get to continue to work, the easier it will be to get yourself moving regularly.
- Layering up can be beneficial if you want to get out and about and go for a walk, hike, or cycle. The warmer you feel, and the more protected you are from the elements, the better you will feel and the more likely you will be to want to get out or limit the effects of the cold weather.
- Plan ahead to know when you’re working out, have your clothing and meals prepped, and schedule it in your diary as you would a work meeting or a doctor appointment, for example.
Winter and Wellness
There is no reason why you can’t stay well during the winter, even with the increased risk of catching seasonal airborne viruses and illnesses.
Self-care, eating well, exercising, and preserving your mental health are all great places to start when it comes to staying well. It isn’t one simple act or anything in particular that will help you; it is the cumulative of many different actions that will help you to stay well.
Practicing good hygiene is an excellent place to start when it comes to warding off illnesses. Washing hands helps to rid your hands of any germs or viruses you might have come into contact with, wearing masks when around others who are ill or keeping your distance to avoid breathing in droplets expelled into the air cia breathing can support you as can disinfecting your home, belongings, car, etc. regularly to kill anything that might be lingering. Use antibacterial cleansers for the home, laundry, and your body to help give you an extra line of defense, too, and always cover your hands and nose using a tissue where possible when sneezing or coughing should you catch anything.
Moisturizing your skin is a great way to support wellness during the winter. No one wants to feel uncomfortable in their skin, and the winter weather can increase the risk of developing dry, itchy skin that can quickly become inflamed. So use heavier moisturizers, treat yourself to face masks and foot packs to help rid the body of dry patches and build-up of hard skin, and stay hydrated to combat winter skin issues. To give you a bit of a boost, you can use tanning water and products for your body to help you give you a healthy sunkissed glow that will not only help you to feel good in your skin but give you a mental boost, too. Because if you feel like you look good, then you will feel better mentally.
Practicing mindfulness can help you to stay grounded and focus on reducing stress and worry, curing the bleaker days. Concentrating on the things you can control at this moment can help you to reduce stress, stay well, and avoid becoming run down because you’re trying to do too much and not giving yourself time to breathe and relax.
Gratitude works in the same way, too. You are focusing on the things that you are grateful for, which can help you to see what is essential. Once you put yourself in a more positive mindset, everything else will slowly fall into place, and you’ll be able to do more to support your health.
There’s no denying that winter can bring some fantastic experiences, and it most definitely has many positives, especially for those who don’t like the heat of the summer. However, it can be a struggle for some people at this time of year, and helping yourself to stay well and healthy can make winter easier for you.