The cold temperatures and lack of sun can be a bummer during the winter months. With these ways to practice winter self-care, you can boost your mood and beat the winter blues!
When I lived in the Bay Area, specifically San Francisco, I developed SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Because of this, I have learned a lot of ways to deal with seasonal depression through talking with Therapists, Psychiatrists, and Doctors. I’ve also educated myself (using reputable sources) by reading, reading, and more reading! I’ve put together a go-to collection of ways to practice winter self-care, but this post isn’t only about dealing with SAD. All of these tips are helpful to anyone who’s feeling a bit down. Next time you’re not feeling like your fantastic self, come back to this post and give one of these mood-boosters a try!
Ways To Practice Winter Self-Care
Get Outside Every Day
Every. Day. You know the feeling. You wake up in the morning and it’s dark and freezing outside, the last thing you want to do is the thing that you need to do the most. Get up, get dressed, and get outside. Cozy pajama days may seem like the perfect remedy for not feeling so great, but during the winter, staying in the house all day can have the opposite effect and make you feel worse.
Grab a coffee from your favorite coffee shop, take a quick walk around the block, or go for a bike ride. While I highly recommend leaving your house, simply stepping outside and sitting in your back yard can sometimes be all you need to do to start feeling better. Making the choice to do one of these activities can do wonders for your mood and overall well-being. After taking that walk or grabbing that coffee, give yourself a pat on the back because you took the time to take care of you!
Make Up For The Lack Of Light
If a majority of your daylight hours are spent in an office, make it a point to take breaks and get outside. If the sun is shining, soak it in! During this time of the year, many of us go to work and come home from work when it’s dark out. When I worked in an office environment, I would take walks during my breaks to not only boost my mood but to get the chance to see and feel some daylight. Getting some steps in was an added bonus!
During your lunch break, or whenever you can, get outside and get some Vitamin D. If you live in a place where you are seriously lacking some sun (ex. San Francisco) talk to your doctor and consider taking some Vitamin D gummies to ensure the absence of sun isn’t bringing you down. I know this is the second tip recommending you head outside, but that just goes to show you how important it is!
Create Your Own Light
Speaking of light, did you know that you can bring your own daylight inside? Okay, it’s not real sunlight but it can be just as effective when it comes to elevating your mood. Use a lightbox at your desk or vanity and switch out the light bulbs in your home for daylight white light bulbs to give yourself some light therapy.
I have one HappyLight on my vanity and one on my desk. We also have “daylight” white light bulbs installed throughout our home. I sit in front of my HappyLight while getting ready in the morning or while I’m working at my desk. These lights are very bright and take some getting used to, but sitting in front of them for just 20 minutes a day while I’m getting ready or working has noticeably improved my winter mood.
Hydrate & Moisturize
On the beauty side of things, hydration is key. Winter weather is dry. Start simply by drinking your water, drinking your tea, drinking whatever hydrating beverage that you enjoy the most throughout the day. For me, there is nothing better than a hot cup of tea on a chilly winter day. This is not only good for your body overall, but it’s also great for your skin. An easy way to keep yourself accountable is to use a water bottle that helps you keep track of your daily intake of water.
To dive deeper into hydration and to specifically keep your skin moisturized, invest in a high-quality moisturizer for your face or a moisturizing mask. Moisturizing masks can be used 1 to 2 times a week and they will visibly improve your skin’s appearance! To stay hydrated head-to-toe, I also recommend keeping hand cream in your bag and taking a moment to apply body lotion after taking a warm shower or a warm bath.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Take a few minutes in the evening or whenever you’d like during the day to jot down a few things you are grateful for in that moment. Recognizing what’s great in your life can help stamp out negative thoughts and feeling bummed out in general. I really like this particular gratitude journal. Everyday you can log how you’re feeling, what you’re grateful for, and your daily affirmation.
I like having one spot to organize my thoughts and track my mood, but practicing gratitude doesn’t have to be so structured. Typing out a few things you’re grateful for in the notes on your smart phone works just as well! And, there you go, there’s something you can be grateful for, having a smart phone! Here are a few more ideas if you’re needing some inspiration, which is totally understandable.
- Being able to read this post
- Being able to write down what you’re grateful for
- Access to the internet
- Running water
- Sephora (lol)
- Your turn, take a minute right now to think about what you’re grateful for in your life!
One of my favorite ways to wind down and relax is to meditate. Meditation can be quite difficult when you get started, but if you’re able to stick with it, it can be incredibly calming. I often find myself getting up from a meditation feeling refreshed and Zen. I started meditating a few years ago and try to do it daily, in the evening.
I got into meditation by using the guided meditations on the Calm app. Calm offers 10-minute daily meditations, but to get started I recommend using the 7 Days of Calm. This is an introductory program and it can be completed during Calm’s 7-day free trial. Currently, I use guided meditations through the Peloton app (Get a Free 60-Day Trial Here). I love the variety of meditations that they offer, especially the breathwork meditations. Some other themed meditations that you can choose from are centered around acceptance, gratitude, kindness, and courage. For guided meditations that are always free, I highly recommend The Mindful Movement‘s channel on YouTube.
Wait, what? First, Hygge is pronounced “Hoo-ga” and according to Merriam-Webster it’s: a cozy quality that makes a person feel content and comfortable.
Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.Wiking, Meik. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2017.
I read The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living at the beginning of 2021 and I absolutely loved it! I have put a lot of it’s suggestions into practice on a daily basis. Think snuggling on the couch wearing a warm sweater and fuzzy socks, while a fire burns in the fireplace and you sip hot tea with honey. Add a blanket and book to this scene and it’s even more hyggelig (hygge-like).
Some other ways to live hygge would be enjoying your favorite comfort food or chocolate while watching your favorite show or listening to soothing music. My favorite way to live more hygge everyday is to dim the lights and light candles. Relaxing in the evening with some candles creating a gorgeous glow is very hyggelig. There is so much more to hygge than this very brief intro to it. If it sounds like something you’d like to know more about check out the book I mentioned above, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living. Let’s live hygge together, doesn’t it sound like such a joyful way to live? I’m feeling happier just writing about it!
Wrap Up Your Winter Self-Care With Exercise
On the seemingly opposite end of the spectrum, try breaking a sweat! Moving your body is the answer to quite a few of life’s problems. Exercising is a form of excellent self-care throughout the year, but it’s an especially good idea during the winter. Whichever way you choose to move your body, you’ll feel the benefit. I love my Peloton bike and tread, but enjoy taking dance classes too. Lifting some weights and working on your strength can be a great option as well. You don’t have to be a pro to bust a move, there are fantastic beginner options at my favorite dance studio in Las Vegas: Millennium Dance Complex.
I like these highly active ways to break a sweat, but a high-intensity workout isn’t necessary. Restorative yoga, walking, and stretching are all great ways to take some time to yourself and boost your mood while taking care of your body. To squeeze in a quick, free yoga sesh at home try one of Yoga With Adriene’s routines. She’s the best!
You may have noticed that a lot of these suggestions are connected. Winter self-care is all about light, movement, and hydration. By combining these 3 areas of self-care, you’re bound to improve your mood and feel better. The results may be immediate or they may take time, either way, you’ll get there so don’t give up!
In what ways do you practice or would you like to practice your own winter self-care?
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