As the world begins to settle into the cold embrace of winter, many people naturally withdraw a little more into themselves. The pandemic has only heightened this sense of isolation, and, for many, the absence of normalcy has magnified pre-existing mental health concerns. As such, it's important now more than ever to take care of your mental health as you head into the new year. Here are five ways you can practice mental health care this winter.
Engage with Nature
The winter can feel like a barren, disconnected landscape, but the natural world still has plenty to offer if you're willing to engage with it. You can put on a coat and take a walk, go ice skating, try snowshoeing, or participate in any other winter activity that appeals to you. The peace and clarity that come from being out in nature can work wonders for your psyche during a dark, trying season.
Skimping on sleep can have profound effects on your overall ability to handle stress, focus, and maintain emotional stability. As nights grow longer, try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule that offers ample rest. As tempting as it might be to stay up late on your phone or binge-watch the latest show, make sure you're logging enough hours to keep your mind and body well-rested.
Seek out Counseling
The winter months can be a lonely time for many, and speaking with a professional counselor can help you work through any tensions or concerns that are exacerbating feelings of depression or anxiety. Counseling can be an excellent way to improve your emotional intelligence, gain new coping techniques, or simply vent and gain a new perspective. Many services offer virtual counseling sessions, which can be helpful if you don't feel like going outdoors.
Connect with Others
Winter often makes people feel more isolated, but making a conscious effort to connect with loved ones, even in small ways, can pay off for your mental health. You might organize a virtual game night or movie night, make a phone call, or write letters to send off. A kind word or a listening ear can go a long way in helping to alleviate feelings of loneliness or disconnection.
Despite the hardships and struggles that the winter might bring, there's always something to be thankful for. Try practicing daily gratitude by keeping a journal with you and writing down three things you're grateful for each day. It could be a warm cup of hot cocoa, a cozy blanket, or any number of things, both big and small. Focusing on the positive things in life can alter your perspective and bring a sense of contentment even during difficult times.
Winter wellness all comes down to taking care of yourself and consciously giving yourself what you need. Whether it's engaging with the natural world or chatting with a counselor, there are plenty of ways to prioritize your mental health this season. Remember that it's okay to feel overwhelmed during this time, and be gentle with yourself as you work to improve your overall well-being.