I believe that winter is the most challenging season and therefore the most important time to look after our mental and physical health. The days are shorter and darker and we spend much more time inside. We are also more prone to illness (ironically, I’m writing this while sick) and burnout from a busy year. Although the festive season can be filled with so much joy, I’m mindful that it can be challenging for those with mental health issues, those who have lost loved ones or have fraught relationships, and those who have financial difficulties, just to name a few examples. Much like my 12 Days of Christmas Challenge in 2020, I’m doing my very best to focus on my wellness this season. Some mental and physical wellness practices have been working really well for me, and I’d love to share them with you. This post is my tips for winter wellness!
Vitamin D Supplements
Medical experts now recommend that we take a Vitamin D supplement in winter. This is your friendly reminder that you should consider taking a Vitamin D supplement if you don’t already. As always, check with your doctor if you have health concerns.
It’s so important to get fresh air and some daylight every day. Do yourself a favour and take yourself (and maybe your dog, cat, child, loved one) for a little walk each day. The prospect of a walk can be off-putting if it’s pouring rain or freezing cold, but I always feel better after I’ve been outside.
Donate to Charity
I personally find this time of year reflective on how fortunate and privileged I am. Though perhaps sounding selfish, or at least altruistic, donating your time or money (or thoughts/prayers) to others can be good for your own wellness. For example, if you feel guilt or anxiety about particular hardships that others are facing (flooding / homelessness / abuse etc.) isn’t it better to be proactive and try to help, rather than ignore others?
I’m terrible for forgetting to stretch! Days go by and I find that I’m increasingly tense and stiff, which makes my anxiety worse. Lately, I’ve been doing bedtime yoga a few days a week and it’s magical! I feel so relaxed afterwards and it helps me fall asleep. It only takes 20 minutes and is suitable for all levels. Oh, and who needs yoga with goats, when you can have yoga with a tiny dog who wants to bury his bone in your crotch?!
This might sound like woowoo, but just try it. Go for a walk in a forest or tree-filled park and I promise you will feel better. Find out more here.
Chat with a Friend
Life is busy and we all get caught up in our own stresses and commitments. Whenever possible, check in with a friend. Opening up about your struggles is therapeutic and it’s a guaranteed way to feel less alone. More often than not, your friend or loved one is also going through some things and you can support each other.
Clean your Home
Don’t wait for the big spring clean. Clutter and grime can contribute to a cluttered mind and even illness (think allergies to dust, germs, and mold respiratory issues). I always feel better when the house is clean!
Mindfulness and Meditation
I’ve found the following resources particularly helpful for managing my anxiety. If you can access it, the Scottish man doing the progressive muscle relaxation session is incredibly soothing!
Listen to 03 – Deep relaxation by Public Health Scotland in Steps for Stress playlist online for free on SoundCloud
I found this advice from Psychiatrist Daniel Amen helpful in regard to the breathing techniques and reflecting on what went well each day (starts around the 2:40 mark).
Cooking from Scratch (with Vegetables!)
Cooking veggie-filled, nutrient rich meals from scratch is important, even if we just feel like eating chocolate and beige foods. I’m trying to make salads and veggie stews each week and ensuring that I eat all the fruit!
Weekly Film or Book Night
Take at least 1 day out of your week for a film night, or an evening to cosy up with a book. This could also be a group activity! Remember to put your phone away. Lucy and I (and Wilbur) enjoy watching Matthew Posa in the evenings. We look forward to his new wilderness adventures as a way to unwind.
Take care of yourselves, and have a happy, healthy winter!