Winter is approaching, meaning it is more important than ever to practice regular self–care.
There is biological backing to why many people experience worsening mental health during the winter months. For many, the change in seasons makes it is more challenging to spend time outside. Minimal exposure to sunlight negatively alters the body's circadian rhythm and catalyzes metabolic changes. During winter, serotonin (aka the feel–good neurotransmitter) decreases, while melatonin, a hormone associated with depression and drowsiness, increases.
The mental strain that comes with bearing colder weather is very real. Thus, it's crucial to be aware of this phenomenon and take steps to lessen its effects.
Creating a self–care environment in your living space is essential during this season. A few strategies to make your home, office, or bedroom into a self–care haven are to play soothing music over a speaker, stock up on relaxing scents, purchase lights that are scientifically proven to treat seasonal affective disorder symptoms, and cook your favorite comfort foods when you have the time.
Make sure to set aside time each day to do something that genuinely makes you happy—even if it's only for 15 minutes. Whether it be working out, reading a book, watching television, or even putting together your own at–home spa day, devote a chunk of your time to self–serving activities. This will provide you not only an outlet, but something to look forward to on seemingly endless days.
Be tuned in to your body and acknowledge when you're not feeling your best. Make an effort to check in with yourself at a certain time each day by asking yourself these five questions that will help you be more cognizant of your mental well–being.
With social distancing guidelines still in place in many places around the world, there are also a number of COVID–19 conscious self–care measures that you can take. In addition to committing yourself to getting a good night's sleep and establishing a daily routine, eating well and drinking lots of water is vital to well–being, can help curb the negative effects of stress, and can even boost your immune system. Staying active is also a known mood–booster. And while this may be difficult given gym shutdowns and frigid outdoor temperatures, there are ways to get your exercise in at home—including streaming a workout or yoga class.
While these tips may seem minuscule, adding them to your daily routine can make a huge difference. As we enter the colder months, it's crucial to stay on top of your mental health.