Between the change in temperatures, holiday-related stress, and seasonal affective disorder, the colder months can be challenging for a lot of people, especially when the nighttime comes sooner and the days are shorter. While self-care can seem like a luxury amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life, it is important to carve out time for yourself. Incorporating a self-care routine into your week not only ups your stress resilience, but it helps regulates moods, and takes care of your mental health. Here are our 8 go-to self-care strategies for making it through the winter.
1. Prioritize working out
Our bodies are made to move and regular exercise helps us on both an emotional and physical level. While the winter can make going outside a challenge, there are plenty of indoor activities to help you stay active! Going to the gym or taking a spin class a few times a week can help you connect with others while boosting your health. But if you prefer the coziness of your home, you can do yoga or a weight-lifting session. If you find yourself bored while working out, we recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and incorporating a new class into your self-care routine! The excitement of conquering a new challenge will not only increase your motivation but will boost your mood as well.
2. Experiment with outdoor activities
Rather than fighting the cold, why not embrace it? Instead of daydreaming about warmer climates, battle the winter "blahs" by layering up and getting outside! From festivals to sports, there is no shortage of activities in Calgary to join in on this winter. Even a walk around the block with your dog can do wonders for your wellbeing!
3. Focus on gratitude
It is easy to isolate yourself during the winter, regardless of your social media presence, and there will be plenty of days where you feel alone or lesser than. In those moments, it’s important to remember that the world is indeed not out to get you and there is always a silver lining. Focusing on the good rather than the bad helps shift our perspective and gives us a reality check. No matter how deep you have to dig, you can probably find something to be grateful for. Try starting or ending your self-care routine with a gratitude list to help you stay focused on the present moment.
4. Set aside 10 minutes in the morning
Studies show that 10-15 minutes of mindfulness practice a day will lead to lower stress, increased self-awareness, increased body awareness, improved performance, reduced mental illness, increased focus, improved emotional processing, regulated moods, increased compassion, decreased feelings of loneliness, improved sleep, and much more. Instead of checking your email or social accounts as soon as you wake up and before you go to bed, we recommend setting that time aside to meditate. There are plenty of helpful apps like Headspace that you can use to help you turn this into a consistent self-care strategy over the winter, but all you really need is a relatively comfortable seated position and a quiet, private space.
5. Talk to someone
We live in a world where we are in constant contact with people but texts and DMs can't replace face-to-face interactions. If you have been feeling particularly lonely or sad this winter, make plans to see friends or loved ones. Go out for lunch, hit the gym together or stay in and watch a movie. If you are still feeling depressed or anxious, make an appointment with a professional to talk it out. There’s no shame in needing support and having a close circle of people to talk to is a huge part of self-care.
6. Supplement wisely
If you live in a climate where winter means the occasional windbreaker or hoodie at night, consider yourself lucky. Winter in northern climates, especially the prairies, can be harsh. It is important to focus on our health while we await spring's arrival which meanings eating a balanced diet and supplementing. We recommend Vitamin D3 to help regulate your mood and reduce pain; zinc to support immune function, eye health, and the regulation of appetite; GABA to naturally calm anxiety; Vitamin C, which is necessary for the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues; and Vitamin E Oil, to keep your skin hydrated.
7. Get enough rest
Are you getting enough sleep? A good night's sleep is essential for maintaining our brain functions, emotional wellbeing, physical health, productivity, and self-care. The National Sleep Foundation recommends getting seven to nine hours of rest per night. If you regularly have trouble staying or falling asleep, try turning off your electronics and disconnecting from your screens one hour before bed.
8. Listen to the cues
Our physical and mental health is intertwined, and your body may be sending you messages that you are in need of more self-care. If you are having trouble sleeping, eating, focusing, socializing, or are feeling extremely irritable, you need to start taking more time out of the day to focus on yourself. You can even create a journal or use an app to track what you are feeling, thinking, and doing.
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