Winter Wellness Tips
Wintertime is the darkest and coldest part of the year, especially if you live in the Northeast like me. Pittsburgh winters are brutal. The skies are grey, it is freezing outside, and most of the time the ground is covered in snow. The lack of sunlight and decreased ability to exercise outside always affects my mood. Seasonal depression is a real thing, and it can affect many of us. I want to share some of my favorite winter wellness tips that help me to keep my mood up in the depths of winter.
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Build & Keep a Healthy Routine
One of the biggest things that helps me to boost my mood in the winter is to establish and stick to a healthy routine. Routines add a level of consistency that we as humans crave to feel balanced and well. Routines add structure to our days. During the pandemic, many of our regular routines were disrupted. Creating a new routine at home can be an effective way to improve your mental health and wellbeing.
For me, that looks like getting up each day, making my morning cup of coffee, breakfast, and getting started with work. In the middle of the day, I take the dog for a walk and have lunch. Later in the day, I go for a run and take a shower. Having these routine tasks keeps my day feeling stable and like I have a bit of control over my day. It also makes me feel a sense of accomplishment when I look back at my day.
What is a healthy habit that you can add to your daily routine?
The weather may be crappy (for some of us!), but that doesn’t mean we can’t exercise! Exercise is still an important part of our lives that greatly improves our moods. My favorite way to exercise in the winter is to take my dog for walks around the neighborhood, and to run on the treadmill.
If the weather isn’t good enough for you to exercise outside, you still have options. You can use the treadmill or an indoor bike, you can practice yoga, you can follow an exercise video or lift weights, or you can go for a walk (even if it’s short). Something that me and my husband loved to do prior to the pandemic in the winter is go for walks as a family at the mall. We would walk a few laps around the mall on weeknights. I was surprised that sometimes we would get a few miles in!
What is a creative way that you can add exercise to your schedule?
Try Light Therapy
Sunlight is an essential element to having a healthy life. In the winter, it can be hard to come by! (especially in Pittsburgh!) You may be asking, what is light therapy? In the winter, many of us don’t get enough sunlight to reap the benefits. When deprived of natural daylight, many people begin to experience a change in mood. This can cause the “winter blues”, which for some may result in less energy and fatigue, and in others may result in seasonal depression.
A convenient solution to this situation is to invest in a Light Therapy Lamp. I bought one on Amazon a few years ago for about $40 and I did notice that it made a big difference. It’s important to make sure the lamp you invest in is UV-free. It is recommended that you make it part of your daily morning routine. you sit near it for around 30 minutes. If you live in a place that is dark and cloudy in the winter, this may be something for you to look into! It’s best to talk to your doctor before starting light therapy.
Have you given a Light Therapy Lamp a try?
Stay Connected with Family & Friends
This tip has been so critically important for me. I would say this year, with the pandemic, it has been even more important. Staying connected to family and friends can help you deal with stress. It can also help you avoid feelings of isolation. As humans, we are social creatures. We are programmed to gather together and socialize. Socializing is good for your mental health.
During the pandemic, this may have to be done a bit more creatively. You could try calling a loved one or friend at least once a week just to catch up and see how they are doing. I have heard of a lot of people creating a “safe pod” of friends or family that only hang out with each other to minimize their risk of getting Covid.
How will you find creative ways to stay connected?
Spend Time Focusing on Your Hobbies
My last mood boosting tip is to spend time focusing on your hobbies. Find hobbies that you enjoy and spend time doing them. This could be things like reading, journaling, watching documentaries, painting, drawing, playing music, blogging, etc. Hobbies help you to rediscover your interests and strengths. Spending time on your hobbies taps into your area of passion and enjoyment. It also helps to relieve stress.
Some of my favorite hobbies include blogging, running, journaling, and reading. Doing these things make me happy and help to “fill up my cup”, which in turn boosts my mood!
What is your favorite hobby that you would like to make more time for?