Like most midwesterners, I have mixed feelings about winter. It can make for the most beautiful scenery, but it also can cause immense sadness. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) happens to so many people as soon as fall begins and can last until spring.
It’s completely normal to feel this way and often goes undiagnosed, but it’s still important to practice mental health care methods and not be afraid to see a doctor even if you feel it’s unnecessary.
With that being said, here are a few mental health self care methods to follow during the rest of these winter months:
Enjoying the daylight, even in winter, is so important! Getting enough Vitamin D in the winter can be difficult but it’s possible. Take advantage of sunny winter days, even when it’s cold, to soak up as much sun as you can! But don’t forget to bundle up!
A HappyLight® is another option. They don’t help in getting proper amounts of Vitamin D, but they do mimic the feeling of the sun shining on your face while energizing you naturally! Since sunny days during the winter don’t happen often enough, HappyLights are a helpful substitute.
Find a new hobby
I’ve started a couple new hobbies over the winter that have really helped to keep me energized and motivated. Kitting is my new favorite decompression activity after busy and stressful days, especially since it was so easy to learn from the knitting kit I got, and my pottery class keeps me motivated to continue learning new things even when I don’t really feel like it.
I’m sure there’s something you’ve been wanting to try or learn, so why not just do it? Money can be a deterrent but there are plenty of budget-friendly hobbies to start. They force you to take time for yourself and that’s what matters most!
Stick with a scheduled sleeping routine
It’s so easy to go to bed at 7 p.m. during the winter since it’s so dark outside, but don’t do it unless you plan to continue that habit into the spring and summer! Sticking to the same sleep pattern all year round is vital to improving your mental and emotional health.
You may think it’s a good idea to be on your phone for an hour before bed or after you wake up to decompress, but trust me, it’s not. Avoiding electronics before bed will help you fall asleep faster and getting out of bed right when you wake up helps with not feeling so fatigued throughout the day!
Stay connected with the people you care about
It’s easy to not talk to anyone all the time because of the lack of motivation, but you would just be pushing people away when you need them most! You have people who care about you, so it’s important to reach out when you’re struggling.
Phone, email, social media, video chat, letters, there are so many ways to reach out to people! If you don’t have a support system of some kind, you could join groups, take classes, volunteer, anything that forces you to interact with others. You’d be surprised how much just talking to another human can help your emotional resilience.
Do whatever you can to reduce stress
Stress reducing and relaxation techniques can be as simple as breathing exercises. Self care is whatever you want it to be. Meditation is always my go to, but you could read (I recommend Rock bottom is where bad bitches are built, by Dr. Erika Adkins), journal, take a bath, practice yoga, really anything.
Just taking a break is a good method as well. Log off and take some time for yourself.
It’s OK to seek help
Never be afraid to ask for help and don’t feel as if your feelings or how your mental health doesn’t matter! Friends and family are always there to support and talk to you, but sometimes you need a licensed professional.
Therapy is the best way to really work through your problems and feelings and find out if there’s something more than just Seasonal Affective Disorder. Not to mention, there are multiple avenues you can take when it comes to therapy. Online therapies like Talkspace and BetterHelp are great for those who feel more comfortable talking to someone from the comfort of their couch and you don’t have to wait for weekly appointments to talk to someone. Everyone deserves the help they need.