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Taking Care of Your Mental Health During the Winter

Updated: Jul 3

Winter is arguably the toughest season on one’s mental health. Less sunshine and holiday stress can wear us down. Below are some tips to help keep your mental wellness in check during the season.

TIP: Acknowledge the stress of transitions

This time of year comes with many transitions: daylight savings time, weather changes, holiday planning, time on and off of work, etc. Any sort of change, whether it’s positive or negative, will bring on some amount of stress. Your mind and body have to “recalibrate” to a new normal. Acknowledge that this is a natural process, and it will pass.

TIP: Observe the joys of winter

It’s interesting how we might only remember the joys of winter when we most long for them, like on a hot summer day. Think about the things that you enjoy doing during the winter and do them. Examples of this include:

  • Playing in the snow with your kids

  • Watching the weather changes from inside your warm home, especially with a warm drink

  • Experimenting with fall recipes, like apple pie or hearty stews

  • Listening to holiday music or watching holiday movies

  • Taking a much-needed break from work or school

TIP: Practice kindness

Winter can be a difficult time for everyone, but even more so for those who are less fortunate. A small act of kindness can go a long way for both the receiver and the giver. Small acts might include making a donation to a local charity, giving away blankets or clothing to homeless shelters, or cooking a meal for an elderly or sick neighbor.

TIP: Seek out social support

I find that it’s easier to self isolate during the winter, which can be both a good and a bad thing. Sometimes taking time for oneself can allow the chance to recharge with some self-care. However, if you’re finding yourself feeling more alone, and you know that this loneliness is impacting your mental health, I encourage you to seek out some social time. Call a friend. Text a loved one. Schedule a meetup with someone you haven’t seen in a long time, even if it’s just through Zoom. Spending time connecting with others can be a great reminder that even though we may feel lonely, we are not alone.

TIP: Seek out professional support

You might be experiencing more than just the “winter blues” if this season is more challenging than normal to get through. Signs of this might include fatigue, feelings of hopelessness or depression, and isolation. Some folks might be coping with the anniversary of a major loss. Others might be dealing with seasonal affective disorder (especially in an area that is less prone to sunlight). It can help to talk to a therapist, consult about medication support through a doctor, or try phototherapy (aka light therapy) at home.

TIP: Remember that the winter will pass

Although there are days that feel like they drag on, the season will come to an end. There is a springtime to look forward to. Consider how you will get through each day until winter is over.

Questions for readers:

  • What do you most enjoy about the winter season?

  • What advice do you have for others on getting through a difficult winter?

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