Winter is my least favorite time of year. Sure as a kid it was nice to get snow days, and drink hot chocolate or to play in the snow. But now, I can’t bear the cold, I have to make my own drinks, and university rarely gives days off. I guess all the magic, which came from cuddles and being coddled, is gone now that I have to take care of myself. It sucks being sick as an adult, but at least winter is an awesome time to overload on self care.
Overcoming negative thoughts isn't easy, but you never know what could help you crawl out of a funk. In the case of chronic disorders, these may not be solutions, though they can help to mitigate your mood. Here are a few tips to beat the winter blues, and improve your mood this season.
1. Let There Be Light
Light is arguably one of the most important natural elements that you can use to improve your mood. So don’t hide in the dark under bundles of blankets. Instead, open your blinds and let the light in. It’ll warm you, comfort you, and brighten your day (literally).
2. Make a Meal
I know from experience how easy it is to forget to eat. Shocking considering I would do almost anything for a good meal, but understandable considering all else. When it’s cold, your apartment is empty, and there’s so much work to be done, it’s not hard for time to fly before you remember to feed yourself. Sometimes self care comes in the form of remembering the little things.
Cooking can feel like a chore when you’re busy, and even when you’re not, which is the main reason I sometimes skip meals. Don’t cheat yourself. Make a real meal. Even if you choose a recipe that’s tried-and-true, it doesn’t matter as a long as you cook something that doesn’t come straight from the freezer or a box. Trust me, you’ll feel so much better after eating nutritious food. Not to mention, cooking can be relaxing - don’t rush yourself, just take time to indulge in your wellbeing, and enjoy making something for yourself.
3. Take a Break
It’s tempting to get ahead (or catch up) on work using those extra hours in the day. However, it’s really important that you take a break. Working without rest will deplete your energy faster than you’d think. Set aside some time to do nothing. Don’t complete an assignment, don’t try to learn something new, don’t do anything that requires work.
Sometimes, I like to lay in bed and jam out, or I’ll let myself think without trying to hold on to the thoughts that flow through my mind. Find your thing and allow yourself to do it without worrying about the other responsibilities that seek your attention.
4. Be Crafty
Arts and crafts are awesome. Growing up, I was always creating something new. Now, my favorite way to be “crafty” comes in the form of white blank pages under black lines. Coloring books.
Don’t knock it till you try it. Coloring is amazing stress relief, and my biggest peeve is that adult coloring books are actually really hard to complete when you’re careful about your work. Usually, I’ll blast my speaker and lay in bed with my pencils so it’s comfy, convenient, and distracts me from having to think. I advise you to find a therapeutic craft that works for you, and to make time for it.
5. Get Some Rest
It’s a shame I didn’t learn to appreciate naps back in pre-school, because I sure miss them now. It’s almost embarrassing how often I wish naps were socially acceptable so that designated napping areas could exist. Everywhere.
Taking a nap or just laying in bed with your eyes closed is even better than it’s said to be. There’s a kind of stillness you experience when you lay down with eyes shut, almost like you’re one with the world, while remaining detached from the commitment of it all. Let yourself rest dreamer, you think too much to deprive yourself of this.
6. Drink More Water
I can’t make a list about self care without including water. Water, water, WATER. It’s magic, even more so than mermaids and manatees combined. Drinking water does wonders for your skin, your hair, your energy, and your hydration overall (obviously).
If you don’t drink water, shame on you. Honestly, I’m not sure how you’re alive and I would suggest hopping on the H2O bandwagon ASAP. If you already drink water, set a higher goal for yourself (as long as it’s safe and reasonable). You’ll see and feel a difference, no doubt. My goal right now is emptying three 24oz. water bottles a day.
7. Pamper Your Skin
On that note, you can set aside time to treat your skin with the love and attention it deserves. The body is as relevant to your wellbeing as is the soul, so grab some lotion and a body brush, then take to the shower to start your regimen. Go on, and get sudsy!
8. Start a Journal
Writing isn’t all it’s made out to be. IT’S SO MUCH MORE. I am convinced that writing is the key to happiness. As humans we are naturally inclined to express ourselves and find meaning or self-understanding in the world. A journal helps you do just that. If you need more convincing, click here to read more about all the great benefits journaling brings to your life.
9. Exercise Your Mind
Like your body, your mind needs to be worked out too. As lame as it may sound, crosswords were a key part of my childhood. Even if you find puzzles difficult, you have to admit it is satisfying when you find an answer, or solve them in full. It’s not wrong to want to do well.
Whether puzzles, crosswords, or games are more your thing, find an activity that requires strategy and let your mind work to figure it out. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to do it, or if you never finish it all. What really matters is that you’re giving your brain a chance to create new connections, to think critically and analytically, and to stretch beyond its usual limits. This is self care.
10. Move Your Body
Science shows that exercise does wonders for the mind, body, and soul. You don’t have to like working out to find an exercise that works for you. There are SO many options: yoga, zumba, hiking, casual walks, weights, cardio machines at the gym, and the list goes on. Don’t give up because you haven’t found the right activity for you, just keep pushing until you find a workout you love.
11. Bundle Up
Stay warm. The weather outside is frightful, so there’s absolutely no shame in sheltering yourself from the cold. Invest in a heated blanket, snuggle your body pillow, and bask in the warmth that follows.
12. Organize Your Space
Self care isn’t all about pampering and taking time to relax. Sometimes, it’s about doing what’s best for your mental health. A clear space allows for a clear mind. Why be stressed about mess and clutter, when you can have an environment that supports your mental health?
Let’s start a mid-winter cleaning trend. There’s no better time to clear house than when you’re stuck inside for most of the day.
13. Plan a Trip
Do you have a bucket list? Is there anything you've always wanted to try that you haven't attempted? Well make a plan to make that happen.
So what if you aren’t able to go now? You never know what could happen in a year or two so hold onto your plan, be patient, and create opportunities for yourself. Sometimes you have to make your own dreams come true.
14. Learn Something New
Self care also involves personal growth. Invest in yourself:
- Listen to a podcast
- Watch a YouTube video
- Try a new craft
It's not hard, nor is it expensive to build yourself up. In fact, it becomes easier when you take time to stretch your mind. Don't be afraid to fail. Pushing yourself into new waters will only help you grow as an individual.
Reading is almost, if not just, as magical as writing. Books transport you to foreign places, introduce you to unique characters, and expose you to worlds you may never have otherwise known. If not a book, then read an article or a magazine. Anything that will allow you to flex those mental muscles and absorb reality anew.
16. Treat Yourself
This is age-old advice, but in this economy you can’t take it to heart. It’s okay if you can’t afford to treat yourself to expensive things. You should never go into debt for material items that you hope will bring you joy, because they won’t. In the long run, that urge will come again and it’ll continue to fuel a vicious cycle.
Instead, be smart with your spending. Go on a thrifting spree and try new styles you have always wanted to explore. Make a Pinterest Board to monitor your wish-lists for items from chain or online stores.
Note: I was legitimately a shopping addict. I never spent beyond my means, mostly because I was too young to have a card that would let me go in debt, but I would skip meals to save money to shop (Sorry Dad!). Anyway, my point is, I learned about savings and frugality the hard way. Years later, with hordes of Forever 21 bits that I wore once or twice and a closet full of impractical wears, I decided to revise my spending habits.
Now, I always use Pinterest to track my wishlists and allow time to pass in order to see if the items I save are things I truly want. Lists are great because you can invent new closets, with radical fashion choices that you would never consider in everyday life. Who knows? Maybe you’ll build the courage to express yourself with styles that speak to you.
There's no harm in exploring your interests.
17. Divide the Day
Without a plan, the day can start to feel ever-long. Make a schedule to divide your time so you don’t feel as if the day is dragging along. Allow yourself to bounce from task to task, and enjoy the energy that comes from having a clear idea of what you need to do. Give yourself time to work, to rest, and to try something new.
18. Avoid Unhealthy Isolation
Don’t get me wrong, isolation is not unhealthy. However, there's a big difference between being alone and being lonely. Unfortunately sometimes the line between the two is easily blurred.
Pay attention to your feelings and if aren't happy being alone with yourself anymore, don't deny yourself the privilege of socializing with others. Call an old friend, introduce yourself to a neighbor, meet someone online and chat over the internet. Thanks to technology, there are so many ways for us to feel less lonely. Just don't cheat yourself by scrolling through social media to fill the void. That usually makes it worse.
Whatever you choose, do what's best for you.
Now go on dreamers, and do your best to beat the winter blues. I know it’s hard to kick that shady mid-winter mood, but it’s not impossible. Comment below a few self-care tricks you use to feel better when you’re blue.