Coping Strategies to Keep Your Mental Health in Check This Winter
- Mental Health Tips: Easy Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
- Beating the Winter Blues
- How to Overcome Winter Anxiety
- How to Maintain Your Mental Health in Winter
- 10 Self-Care Tips to Surviving Winter
- FAQs about: mental health tips for winter
Are you feeling overwhelmed this winter? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Here are some effective coping strategies that can help you stay in good mental health during tough times. You’ll be feeling better in no time!
Quick facts: Mental Health Tips For Winter
✅ Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects up to 10-20% of the population in areas of the world with long and dark winters (National Institute of Mental Health)
✅ Exercise can be an effective tool for improving mental health, reducing stress and regulating mood (American Psychological Association)
✅ A recent survey found that 67% of people said they feel more anxious and stressed during the winter months than other times of the year (Mental Health America)
✅ People with existing mental health issues are more likely to experience increased symptoms during winter due to decreased daylight and lower temperatures (Harvard Health)
✅ Social connection and support is important for mental health, and can be especially beneficial during winter (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Checkout this video:
Mental Health Tips: Easy Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
With the changing of the seasons, many people start to experience feelings of depression and anxiety due to the lack of sunlight and colder temperatures. During wintertime, staying on top of your mental health can be difficult. Whether you are struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or everyday stress, there are several easy tips you can use to stay mentally healthy this winter.
Some tips include:
- Exercising regularly,
- spending time outside when possible,
- setting reasonable goals for yourself, and
- taking a few moments each day to practice mindfulness.
Exercise can help boost your mood by releasing endorphins and serotonin into your bloodstream. Going outside helps activate vitamin D production in your body, which allows your body to better absorb key nutrients such as magnesium that are essential for a balanced mental state. Setting reasonable goals increases motivation while helping avoid burnout. Lastly, regular mindfulness practices such as meditation or yoga can provide deep relaxation and help clear the mind from negative thoughts and rumination cycles.
Beating the Winter Blues
Beating the winter blues can be a challenge, but it’s possible with a few simple steps. During the colder months, people often feel more tired and sluggish than usual, likely due to the lack of sunlight and warmer temperatures. This can lead to feelings of depression, sadness, and hopelessness.
To help beat these winter blues, it’s important to maintain healthy habits like:
- Exercising regularly
- Eating nutritious meals
It is also helpful to:
- Join an online support group
- Take up new hobbies or activities
Additionally, getting adequate sleep can help boost your energy levels and keep your mood elevated throughout the day. Finally, getting out in nature is a great way to help beat those winter doldrums while providing an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and those around you.
With proper care and attention, you can keep the winter blues at bay and maintain good mental health during this dreary time of year!
Symptoms of SAD
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. If you are feeling particularly low, it could be due to SAD. Symptoms of SAD include feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, decreased interest in activities, irritability or agitation, sleep issues (either oversleeping or insomnia), and changes in appetite. Sufferers can also experience intrusive thoughts and suicidal ideation.
Some strategies to cope with SAD include:
- Talking to a therapist or counselor about your feelings.
- Engaging in physical activity such as yoga or exercise.
- Reducing stress by practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques.
- Eating a balanced diet filled with nutritious foods high in vitamins D and B-12 (such as shellfish and fortified cereals).
- Seeking support from friends and family members.
- Using light therapy to increase exposure to natural sunlight. This can help increase serotonin levels which may reduce symptoms of depression associated with SAD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that generally occurs due to the changes in the season typically during winter. To cope, it is important to be aware of warning signs such as depressed mood, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
Self-care strategies are also highly important such as:
- Getting enough sleep (aiming for 7-9 hours)
- Exercising regularly
- Practicing mindful meditation
Additionally, bright light therapy has been found to be effective at decreasing symptoms of SAD in some people. This means exposing oneself to a special light box daily for 30 minutes or more in order to imitate the effect of natural sunlight.
Other tips for improving mental health during winter include:
- Socializing with family and friends
- Eating nourishing meals and snacks
- Talking to a mental healthcare provider if symptoms persist
How to Overcome Winter Anxiety
Winter Anxiety is a type of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that occurs during the winter months. It can be difficult to cope with winter anxiety and the stressors that come along with it such as long days and colder temperatures. However, there are some great strategies to help you better manage your winter anxiety and keep your mental health in check this winter.
The first step to overcoming winter anxiety is to recognize the signs of it. Symptoms may include changes in sleep patterns, fatigue, irritability, fluctuations in appetite, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, frequent physical complaints/pains, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, withdrawal from social activities/family events etc.
Once you have identified your symptoms it’s important to take active steps towards managing them. This could include:
- Maintaining a routine throughout the day – such as getting up at a set time every morning and including regular physical activity into your daily life;
- Creating an environment that is comfortable for yourself – like setting up positive reminders around the house or journaling daily;
- Speaking openly about how you are feeling with friends or family;
- Seeking professional assistance or finding relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises.
Taking these steps will help you better manage your winter anxiety and make sure you stay healthy both mentally and physically this season.
Massage therapy is an effective way to reduce stress, relax the body and improve circulation. It triggers the body’s natural release of endorphins and serotonin, helping to reduce stress levels and increase feelings of calmness. This can be especially helpful for veterans and active-duty service members suffering from anxiety or PTSD, helping them to relax and boost their mood.
Before scheduling a massage appointment, it is important for veterans to research massage therapists who are skilled at working with their unique physical needs or utilizing military-specific techniques. Typically, a massage therapist will need to tailor their approach according to any special circumstances a veteran may have, such as injuries from combat or chronic pain from military activity.
Journaling is a great way to practice gratitude and get in touch with your thoughts and feelings. It’s one of the best ways to process emotions and can help to alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. A gratitude journal is a type of journaling where you list things that you are grateful for in a given day or week. Writing about two or three things every day can be a powerful way to cultivate gratitude and appreciation for the good things in your life, as well as help put difficult emotions into perspective.
Another spin on this exercise is reflecting on past moments in which you are thankful. Ask yourself questions like what did I learn? What did I gain? Who was there for me? What am I beginning to appreciate more? By reflecting on these questions, it can help you form a sense of resilience during hard times.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that involves inserting extremely thin needles into pressure points on the body to release blocked “qi” (energy) and restore balance. Research has shown that acupuncture can help people with PTSD from war manage their symptoms, such as flashbacks, nightmares, difficulty sleeping, and depression. Additionally, a 2020 study published in the International Journal of Genomics showed evidence that acupuncture may also help reduce cytokines associated with inflammation in the body – decreased inflammation has been linked to improved mental health.
For those looking to try acupuncture as a way to cope with PTSD from war, it is important to talk to a licensed acupuncturist about their experience with treating PTSD before proceeding. The acupuncturist should have knowledge and understanding of how PTSD affects people’s lives and should be well-versed in techniques for managing symptoms. Furthermore, it is important for the patient to feel comfortable during the session for it to be successful.
Seek Professional Help
Seeking professional help is a great way to practice self care. Mental health issues can be complex and sometimes it helps to talk to a professional who can provide insight and recommendations. Professional mental health providers can help you identify problem areas, develop actionable goals, reduce stress, and provide supportive therapy. It is important to build a rapport with the provider so that you can feel comfortable discussing any of your issues or concerns.
Depending on your needs, it could be beneficial to meet with a therapist providing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on identifying negative patterns of thinking and unhelpful behaviors that prevent individuals from reaching their goals. It also works on replacing those thoughts with healthier ones, helping patients break through patterns of self-defeating behavior and making positive changes in their lives.
There are also other forms of therapy such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) which focuses on becoming aware of one’s thoughts in order to control them better.
Get Some Sleep
Getting enough sleep is one of the best ways to look after your mental health on the weekend. It’s important for our brains and bodies to get rest, as it helps us be productive and energized during the day. Try going to bed earlier and blocking out lots of time for sleep before engaging in activities or socializing. This can help you reset, recharge, and be ready for whatever comes your way.
Additionally, avoid using alcohol or caffeine late at night as these can disrupt quality sleep. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, try:
- Unplugging from screens an hour before bedtime.
- Keeping your room cool and dark while sleeping.
- Developing a sleep routine by following the same pattern each night.
Oil Diffusers and Essential Oils
When it comes to veterans adjusting to life after leaving the military, there are numerous challenges that can cause distress. One of the most valuable coping strategies for veterans dealing with stress and anxiety is using essential oils in an oil diffuser.
Essential oils have been traditionally used for centuries as a form of natural healing. Many studies have indicated that essential oils can help reduce symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental health issues. A veteran may benefit from diffusing a variety of calming essential oils such as lavender, frankincense, ylang-ylang, or chamomile throughout their home in order to relax and ease any emotions they may struggle with during transitional periods.
An oil diffuser also adds pleasant aromas to a space while providing therapeutic benefits that can help manage mental health issues experienced by veterans transitioning back into civilian life.
Take Care of Yourself
It’s important to take care of yourself mentally and physically during the winter. This can include simple things like getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, and keeping a journal to write down your thoughts and feelings.
Taking care of yourself–mentally and physically–is essential for managing stress and improving your overall mental health. You should also strive to make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, such as reading a book or meeting friends for coffee. If you’re struggling with anxiety, try techniques like deep breathing or mindful meditation to keep your thoughts in check. Additionally, try talking to someone about how you’re feeling if you need someone to talk to. This can be a close friend or family member, or even an online therapist if need be. It’s important that you learn how to listen to yourself so that you can identify when something isn’t right within your own mind and body.
Connect with other people
Making meaningful connections with other people can be key to improving mental health. Connecting with others can help you to focus on something other than your worries and anxieties. It’s important to reach out and stay in contact with those you care about. Spending time talking or doing activities together, whether virtually or in person, can enhance your overall well-being.
Additionally, being honest and open about how you’re feeling with people that you trust can be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Forming meaningful connections is also beneficial for building self-confidence as you learn how to share your thoughts and feelings with others. Finally, connecting with supportive people can help you find new hope and purpose if you’ve been struggling lately.
Be physically active
One of the best and simplest ways to maintain positive mental health during the winter is to stay physically active. Taking a walk or engaging in an exercise routine can help clear your thoughts and elevate your mood. Exercise has proven to be better than medication or talk therapy for managing depression, reducing stress, and improving cognitive functioning.
Additionally, engaging in physical activity such as yoga or tai chi helps promote mindfulness, which is especially important during stressful times. Research even suggests that simple activities like going outside and getting some sunshine can have significant impacts on one’s mental well-being.
So take some time to move your body and reap the benefits of increased mental fitness!
Learn new skills
Learning new skills is a beneficial habit to incorporate into your daily routine with the intention of improving your mental health. This winter, challenge yourself to try something new every day and watch how it boosts your self-esteem.
Examples of useful skills that you can learn from home include cooking a new recipe, playing a musical instrument, or practising yoga or meditation. Learning something new can help to keep your mind active and reduce any feelings of depression or anxiousness. Additionally, developing a new skill can be quite rewarding and provide a sense of accomplishment.
Make sure to discuss any goals or challenges you’re working towards with trusted friends and family—it’s always rewarding to receive support and encouragement from people who care about you!
Give to others
Giving to others is one of the most effective ways to maintain mental health and wellbeing during challenging times. Studies suggest that when we give to others it triggers feelings of pleasure, connection and purpose – all feelings that are beneficial for our mental wellbeing.
There are many different ways to give to others. You can donate time by volunteering for a charity or local organisation, donate money or items, or offer emotional support to family and friends. Giving doesn’t have to be big gestures – small acts such as sending a card or cooking a meal for a loved one can make a world of difference in someone’s life.
Whatever you decide to do, giving back will not only make you feel more connected and fulfilled, but it will also help make the world just that little bit better.
Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)
Mindfulness is a structured practice that emphasizes the present moment. It can be used to help people learn how to be fully present and aware, without judgment, of whatever is going on in their lives. It is a practice of being aware—both of yourself and your surroundings—so that you can better navigate life’s ups and downs.
Practicing mindfulness can help provide clarity and reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and physical pain. Mindful activities might include appreciating the little moments in life, such as waking up to watch the sunrise or listening to soothing music. Other strategies for developing mindfulness include:
- Focusing on your breathing
- Setting realistic goals with achievable timelines
- Engaging in self-care activities such as yoga or taking a walk outside
- Taking time to pause throughout the day and pay attention to how you are feeling
These strategies can assist in staying mentally fit during uncertain times.
How to Maintain Your Mental Health in Winter
During the colder winter months, it can be easy to feel like your mental health has taken a hit. With shorter days, colder weather, and increased stress due to the holidays, it’s important to take steps to ensure your mental wellbeing remains in check.
There are a few simple things you can do to maintain your mental health during the winter season. For starters, make sure you are getting enough sleep and eating healthy meals. Exercising regularly can also be beneficial; studies have shown that physical activity can reduce stress and anxiety levels. Taking time for yourself is also key – schedule regular downtime for activities like reading or meditating that will help you relax and de-stress.
Lastly, stay connected – reach out to friends and family regularly, talk about how you’re feeling with those close to you, or join a support group if needed. Keeping an open dialogue about mental health will help remind yourself (and others) that we all need extra care during this time of year.
Get outside and exercise
One of the best ways to take care of your mental health is to get outside and exercise. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, while also increasing energy levels and self-esteem. It doesn’t have to be a full workout either; even just going for a walk or jog can be beneficial.
If you’re feeling low on motivation, set small goals for yourself that you can work towards—for example, aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day and gradually increase it as time goes on. Exercising outdoors can also help boost your mood since being in nature has been found to help lower stress levels and promote relaxation.
Keep up healthy eating and sleep habits
It is important to keep up healthy eating and sleeping habits during the winter months to ensure optimal mental health. Eating nutritious foods that are high in essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants will help your body fight off illness, improve energy and focus levels, and manage stress.
Additionally, get plenty of restful sleep each night to replenish your body of its energy needs. Try incorporating a nightly sleep routine that involves winding down at least an hour before bedtime—50 minutes of this should be devoted to something calming like yoga or meditation. Finally, limit caffeine intake late in the day as it may interfere with getting a restful night’s sleep.
Have a support system and stay connected
Having a strong support system is important for mental health, especially during the winter season. Being able to talk to the people you’re close with—whether it’s your family, friends, or a mental health professional—can help make hard times easier to manage. It can also be beneficial to reach out for help if you need it.
Staying connected is essential for mental wellbeing and can help remind you that you are not alone during tough times. Reach out to others and don’t hesitate to ask for support when needed. Participate in activities that make you feel connected, such as joining online communities or even meeting up with friends (if it’s safe and allowed!). Maintaining meaningful relationships can provide purpose and guidance while helping us cope with life changes and tough moments.
Keep up with your other appointments
It is important to keep up with your medical and mental health appointments, even if you don’t feel like it. Scheduling regular check-ups with your GP and mental health professional can help identify any changes in your mental health early on, so that any developing issues can be addressed promptly.
Attending regular appointments can also provide an opportunity to talk through any concerns and develop a plan to cope. Many practitioners have adapted their services to include online options, making it easier for those who struggle to get out of the house or who require more flexibility in their schedules due to work or care commitments.
Don’t cancel your appointment if you’re feeling overwhelmed; attending regularly will help you stay on track and get the most out of the service, providing ongoing support for times when things feel overwhelming.
Meditate and be mindful
Meditation and mindful practices are powerful tools for helping us cope with overwhelming emotions. Mindfulness allows us to become conscious of our own thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations in a non-judgmental way, which can help provide perspective and clarity.
Additionally, meditation can help:
- reduce stress levels and rewire the brain to develop resilience in times of difficulty.
- facilitate relaxation, relieve anxiety and depression, boost mood, increase focus, prioritise self-care, provide peace of mind and open up new perspectives.
Whether it is done alone or with a guided app or audio track, meditating for 10–20 minutes each day can make a great difference in keeping your mental health in check this winter.
Adopt some CBT practices
The practice of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) involves identifying and questioning unhelpful thoughts or beliefs in order to reframe them and gain control of our emotions. CBT teaches us that we can change our patterns of behavior and thinking, which in turn can help us cope with stressful situations or times of difficulty.
Adopting CBT practices such as self-monitoring, systematic problem solving and goal setting can be helpful tools for maintaining mental health during stressful times:
- Self-monitoring involves noting how you’re feeling emotionally, physically and cognitively (e.g., distractibility), in order to help you identify your triggers and then work on them.
- Systematic problem solving involves breaking complex tasks down into manageable steps so that the process is more achievable.
- Additionally, setting goals for yourself can help you stay focused on the positive rather than the negative!
When to seek medical attention
It’s important for everyone to pay attention to their mental health and take precautionary measures when feeling overwhelmed by a funk. Taking care of yourself is essential and if your symptoms worsen, then it might be time to seek medical attention.
Signs that you may need professional help include:
- Having difficulty carrying out everyday tasks.
- Experiencing sudden changes in mood.
- Having erratic behavior and thoughts.
- Hearing voices.
- Experiencing prolonged episodes of deep sadness or anxiety.
If you are feeling any of these things, it may be a good idea to visit your doctor or a mental health specialist. They can provide advice on the best approach to managing your mental health and can recommend therapies or medication if required. Professional help is also recommended if you’re having trouble coping with stress and the impact this is having on your wellbeing.
Lean in to nature
Getting out into nature can be a great way to reset and recalibrate when you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Whether or not it’s possible to get outside safely, depending on your area, there are still options that can help you connect with the outdoors in a meaningful way!
If you have access to safe outdoor spaces, such as parks or hiking trails, take advantage of them and spend some time walking or listening to birdsong. If that isn’t an option for you, seek out virtual forms of connection with nature. Maybe watch a nature documentary, or look at images or videos of your favorite places in the wild.
Nature has been proven to reduce stress levels and improve mood—and it doesn’t always have to be experienced live! Here are some ideas to help you connect with nature:
- Visit a park or hiking trail if it is safe to do so.
- Watch a nature documentary.
- Look at images or videos of your favorite places in the wild.
- Listen to birdsong.
10 Self-Care Tips to Surviving Winter
Winter can be a tough season for many people, as the colder temperatures and shorter days can often cause feelings of depression and anxiety. To help cope with these difficult emotions, it is important to make sure that you practice self-care. This might include taking a hot bath, buying cozy winter clothing, or spending time with friends. Here are 10 self-care tips to keep your mental health in check this winter:
- Get outside: Even when temperatures are cold, try to get outdoors for some fresh air on a regular basis; this will help lift your mood and give you an opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of winter.
- Make space for joy: Treat yourself to activities that you enjoy doing during colder months such as movies, cooking, reading a book or playing video games – whatever makes you happy!
- Practice mindfulness: From yoga classes to meditation apps and mindfulness exercises – take some time out of your day for calming activities that focus on being in the present moment and balance out stress levels.
- Eat nourishing food: Winter is the perfect time for comfort foods which are often rich in calories – but focus on healthy choices like warm soups and stews as well as nutrient-dense smoothies or salads.
- Stay connected: Spend time with friends who make you feel good about yourself; talk openly about how you’re feeling and be there for each other if needed!
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise not only helps to reduce stress but also creates endorphins that can improve your mood significantly – join an online fitness class or just go outside for a walk!
- Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential no matter what season it is – make sure to maintain a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning!
- Take care of your skin: Winter weather can be particularly harsh on skin so keep it hydrated by using moisturizers regularly as well as using sunscreen when going outdoors even if it’s cloudy outside!
- Seek help when needed: If feelings of sadness persist strongly beyond typical low periods then don’t hesitate reach out for professional help – talking therapy can do wonders in helping manage mental health issues such as depression or anxiety during challenging times like winters!
- Boost vitamin D levels: Vitamin D is essential for proper metabolism of calcium which helps in overall growth & development. To ensure adequate doses use supplements, spend some time out in sun (15 minutes daily), and opts foods rich in Vitamin D such as egg yolks, mushrooms, etc.
FAQs about: mental health tips for winter
Q: How can I help keep my mental health strong during winter?
A: There are several things you can do to help keep your mental health strong during winter. Make sure to get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, eat nutritious food, and find time for activities that you enjoy. You can also stay connected with family and friends, and reach out for help if needed.
Q: What type of exercise can I do during winter?
A: During winter, you can get creative with your exercise routine. Try going for a walk, jog, or bike ride outdoors, or look for online classes, videos, and apps that you can use to exercise indoors. You can also look into joining a gym or exercise class in your community.
Q: How can I stay connected with family and friends during winter?
A: During winter, you can stay connected with family and friends even if you can’t be together in person. Try having regular video or phone calls, or sending text messages, emails, or letters. You can also look for virtual activities that you can do together.