Punxsutawney Phil, one of the most famous for Groundhog Day, awoke Tuesday morning and did not see his shadow — which, according to legend, means there will be six more weeks of winter ahead. Cold weather and short days can lead to feeling what’s known as the winter blues. The pandemic has not helped many cases of the winter blues for people. During the winter months, people often leave for work in the dark, spend all day at work and then leave work to commute home again, in the dark. That can affect most people negatively. While we may not be able to change the weather or amount of daylight we experience during winter, there are some self-care practices we can use to try and beat those pesky winter blues.
- Do some physical activity: Engaging in some form of physical activity has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress and decrease mental health symptoms. Try indoor friendly activities such as yoga, Pilates, stretching, and strength exercises. Try to move your body for at least 30 minutes per day for best benefit.
- Soak up the sun: It is no secret that the sun often likes to hide during the winter months. But on the days that it does, take full advantage. Getting sunlight can help balance serotonin activity and increase vitamin D levels which can improve moods. If you cannot get outside, find a sunny spot by a window or door, and soak up as much as you can.
- Watch your diet: The winter months can often lead to some bad eating habits. We can find ourselves eating more during the winter months and relying on less fresh items that may not be in season. Make sure that you are eating regular, balanced, and nutritious meals daily to help keep your mood balanced.
- Take a break from media: Being indoors more in the winter often leads to an increase in time with the media, from watching the news to scrolling social media. If the news or social media has you feeling down, take a break. Practice different activities such as puzzles, reading, or hobbies to break up that screen time with the media.
- Connect to supports: If the global pandemic has taught us anything, it is that human interaction and socialization is essential to our mental health. Find ways to spend time with your support system whether in person or virtually with phone or video calls or spending time together doing activities.
- Seek out professional help: if you are really feeling those winter blues and they are impacting you more than you’d like you may benefit from seeking out professional help. Here at Spectrum Health and Human Services we can help you beat those winter blues and get you back to feeling like yourself.