Many people struggle during the winter months with their mental health. It could be the shorter days and longer, darker nights, or it could be related to family issues and the holiday season. People deal with this in different ways, but it can lead to avoidance of social interactions, overeating or emotional eating, as well as a mental fogginess that can lead to negative thoughts and overwhelming feelings.
The survival instinct for many of us, especially those living in extremely cold regions of the world, is to wrap up in a blanket, eat lots of comfort food, and hibernate indoors. But it’s important to take inventory of your mental well being as much as your physical. Here are three tips to follow when evaluating your mental health this winter.
Listen to the Needs of Your Body
The winter days are shorter and the nights colder and darker and this definitely has an impact on our internal clocks. This low light can have our bodies ready for sleep earlier than usual in the lighter summer months. You might find yourself going to bed 20-30 minutes earlier than usual. Your body will tell you what it needs so make sure you listen and possibly incorporate a power nap mid-day if necessary.
Nutrition is Key
As previously mentioned, our tendency can often be to eat more and move less in the cold weather. Warm bowls of soup or pasta are often our favorite things when the temperature drops. But feed your hunger wisely and make sure you don’t go completely overboard with the comfort foods. Stock your pantry with nutritious food like nuts, crackers and hummus, yogurt and sweet potatoes. This will keep your physical health and your mental health strong through this cold season.
Keep on Moving
When it’s cold and snowy or rainy outside, the tendency is to grab a warm blanket and curl up with a book or binge watch the latest show you have been saving for just such weather. And this is a great plan in moderation. It’s important that you keep moving even when it’s cold outside. Our bodies need movement to stay healthy. If you don’t have a time set aside for regular exercise, you should consider adding this to your daily schedule. If you work inside and sit at a desk all day, set an alarm that reminds you to get up every hour and move; take a walk, stretch, or simply take the stairs instead of the elevator. Anything to keep your body in motion. This is a great way to keep your mind active as well.
Our physical and mental health are tied together so make sure they aren’t neglecting one or the other. Taking care of them both will set you up for a productive winter and help you welcome Spring with a healthy mind and heart.