They say that the holiday season is “the most wonderful time of the year,” but the evidence for that claim is mixed at best. While many of us love the winter holidays, it’s also true that winter is the toughest season for your health. It’s not just the fattening foods and lack of good weather for outdoor exercise, though those things certainly don’t help; it’s also that the winter can wreak havoc on your mental health and wellness.
As rough as winter can be on your mental health, you don’t have to let it win. You can choose to take proactive steps to make winter more bearable and your mental health stronger. Here’s what you should consider as the weather gets chillier.
Make Your Home Cozier
Depending on where you live, winter might force you indoors for more hours of the day than you’re used to. That’s not necessarily good for your mental health, but how much damage it does will depend a great deal on how much you enjoy being in your own space. That’s why you should make winter comfort and aesthetics a priority at home.
Avoid seasonal HVAC problems by calling in the heating pros, keep your space tidy and clean, and outfit your beds and couches with attractive and comfortable blankets. Decorate for the holidays, stop drafts, and stock your pantry with seasonal favorites. There’s a huge difference between staying in bed all weekend feeling miserable and spending a cozy weekend watching Netflix and tending to a roaring fire. If you’re anticipating being trapped inside on some cold nights, make sure that your home is a place that makes you feel good.
Talk To The Pros
If you’re not already going to therapy, then winter is a great time to make a change. You don’t need to be suffering from a condition like anxiety or depression in order to get a lot out of therapy! Therapy can give you insights and strategies that will help you address everything from workplace stress to seasonal affective disorder. So if the cold weather and early sunsets have you feeling down, take action and head to therapy!
If you think you’re too busy to attend therapy, think again. Many therapists offer flexible scheduling, and there are great therapy solutions available online and via apps, too! With services like With Therapy out there to connect you to the right mental healthcare provider, there’s no excuse for not taking care of your mind.
Make Holiday Plans
For those without close family ties or established plans, the holidays can be a rough time. Some studies suggest that poor mental health outcomes like suicide spike near the winter holidays (the evidence is mixed, but experts agree that winter, in general, can be a scary time for mental health issues and that holidays can be stressful and, for some people, isolating).
Regardless of how well you do or do not feel right now, you should be proactive about planning something for each major holiday. Get together with others if you can, or choose to volunteer at a food bank. Take yourself out to dinner or the movies, or connect with faraway family and friends using internet video chat software. Whatever you do, have a plan to keep yourself on track and enjoy the time as much as possible.
Winter won’t last forever, but it can feel that way sometimes. Take action and do everything that you can in order to care for your mental health! This season can be a beautiful one if you take proper care of your mind and body.