Mental Health Tips for Winter Days

As the days become shorter and the winter chill sets in, we like to spend more time indoors cuddled under blankets, binge-watching movies, or simply staring at our devices. Your physical and mental health may suffer during these winter months. You might begin to experience the harmful effects of less exposure to daylight on your mental health, including sleep disturbances, a lack of interest in activities, exhaustion, and irritability. Keeping your mental health strong over the winter is crucial for maintaining general health, safety, and well-being.

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If you frequently feel depressed throughout the winter, it may be because of your poor winter routine or lifestyle choices. You can also experience mood disorders like SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Seasonal Affective Disorder: What Is It?  

SAD is a form of winter depression, which can make you feel down all day1. It is more prevalent in the fall and winter when there is less sunlight and daylight. SAD symptoms include low energy, weight gain, disturbed sleep, lethargy, sadness, and mood swings. It can be overwhelming, disrupting daily tasks. Anyone, regardless of age, can be impacted.

However, not everyone who experiences mild depression during the winter suffers from SAD. Sometimes the short days and gloomy weather can make you feel depressed as well.

Tips for Managing Your Mental Health During Winters

You can better manage your mental health throughout the colder months by making minor adjustments to your routine and including more physical activity and a healthy diet.

1.   Maximize The Use of Natural Lighting

Wintertime should be the best time to get outside. It is crucial to get some sun exposure because a lack of it worsens the symptoms of winter depression. Being in the sun improves your mood by balancing serotonin activity, increasing melatonin production, stabilizing your circadian rhythm, and raising your vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D is also referred to as the "sunshine vitamin" because it may be produced by your body utilizing cholesterol and exposure to sunlight. You might feel happier with as little as 10 minutes of sunlight exposure2. For this reason, light therapy is a crucial SAD treatment.

Get outside as often as possible during winter if you're feeling low, especially on sunny days. If you are unable to go out, set a chair, desk, or kitchen table next to a window that gets plenty of sunlight. Try to spend at least an hour or two here each day.

2.   Maintain Your Level of Activity

Regular exercise benefits both the body and the mind3. Even only 15 minutes of moderate workout a day can enhance your mood, sleep quality, and energy levels. You are not confined inside because of the chilly weather. Explore creative methods to stay active during the winter. Get dressed up, get outside for a stroll, and take in some much-needed Vitamin D. Spending time outside in the daylight will improve your mood even in the midst of winter, and exercising will help you relax.

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Exercising releases endorphins, a feel-good hormone that helps lessen anxiety and depressive symptoms4. There are several indoor activities you can engage in if you don't want to exercise outside, such as going to the gym, practicing yoga, or swimming in an indoor pool.

Daily exercise is one way to keep your body and mind strong during the winter, whether inside or outside.

3.   Engage In Mindfulness

If you practice mindfulness, you may relate to stress and uncertainty with more ease, skill, and facility. In contrast to being lost in thought, mindfulness is an alert and attentive condition. Mindfulness can help you view things clearly by reducing reactivity and increasing resilience and emotional intelligence5.

You can formally develop mindfulness through meditation and informally in your daily activities. Try to perform even the most routine activities, such as washing dishes, walking the dog, or taking a shower, with complete consciousness. For instance, pay attention to how the water feels on your skin and the soap's aroma when you take a shower. Simply return your focus to what you are doing when your mind begins to stray.

Studies have indicated that mindfulness and meditation can help with anxiety and depressive symptoms6. Consider meditating for even ten minutes per day. You can start the day off peacefully or eliminate the pressures of the day by meditating in the morning or right before night. Additionally, meditation doesn't have to be a routine practice.

4.   Promote Mental Health with Harmony's Ear Candles

One of the best recommendations for maximum relaxation, mental clarity, and stress reduction is the use of ear candles. Harmony's Ear Candles encourage relaxation, which, coupled with a healthy lifestyle, can help combat winter depression. Aromatherapy, warm smoke, and ambient sound aid mental relaxation and promote natural healing.

Since aromatherapy is known to improve your mental state, mood, and overall health, it is frequently used as a medical intervention for those with depression. Harmony's Ear Candles is made of food-grade wax and organic cotton fabric. Because of this, they are the finest for making you feel better during the winter days.

5.   Maintain A Healthy Diet

Although it may seem obvious, what you eat throughout the winter can affect how you feel physically and mentally. Even though many holidays fall during the winter, you should still make an effort to eat foods that are high in antioxidants, contain vitamins C, A, and K, and potassium. Additionally, make sure you're hydrated by consuming enough water each day.

Depression and other mood problems have been linked to diets containing processed foods and refined sugar7. A healthy diet will elevate your mood. To quell your carbohydrate cravings, eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. You can also include these mood-enhancing foods in your diet:

·        Omega-3 Fatty Acids

In addition to other health advantages, omega-3 fatty acids may also have an impact on your mood. People who consume more omega-3 fatty acids are less likely to experience mild or moderate depressive symptoms8. The foods with the maximum concentration of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, walnuts, and flax seeds.

·        Dark Chocolate

Stress management with chocolate has been a popular and successful practice for years. Due to its high polyphenol content, dark chocolate has been demonstrated to elevate mood9.  When feeling down, choose dark chocolate with a high cocoa content; you will feel considerably better.

·        Berries

Stress drains your body's resources and makes depression symptoms worse. Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries may stop the adrenal gland from producing the stress hormone cortisol10.  To help you deal with stress, keep berries in your bag.

·        Bananas

Bananas contain tryptophan. By supplying carbohydrates from natural sugars and potassium, bananas also help to power your brain. Magnesium, which is also abundant in bananas, may ease anxiety and insomnia, two symptoms of winter depression.

·        Limit Your Sugar Intake

Although sugar may temporarily give you pleasure, studies have shown that consuming too much sugar can slow down and alter your brain's function11. Avoid sugar at all costs, particularly if you're feeling down.

Additionally, meals rich in vitamin D, including fatty fish and fish oil, as well as vitamin D-fortified foods like milk, breakfast cereal, orange juice, yogurt, and other nutritional sources, might help regulate mood.

6.   Use Essential Oils to Boost Your Mood

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Essential Oils have a positive effect on your mood. When you inhale an Essential Oil, the small compounds trigger the brain via the olfactory system to release mood-regulating hormones of serotonin and dopamine, both of which are associated with SAD. Essential Oils have a balancing effect on the mood and can also help to relieve stress, anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. The most common mood-enhancing harmony's essential oils are:

  • Lemon: Lemon Essential Oil, with a zesty and vibrant aroma, is known to stimulate the mind and body while enhancing your mood. According to one study, the lemon essential oil has qualities that are similar to those of an antidepressant and an anxiolytic12. Lemon oil can be diffused or applied topically to boost your mood during the winter.
  • Rose: Rose has a pleasant and floral scent and is frequently referred to as the "queen of essential oils." Rose Essential Oil promotes peace and balance between the mind and body. It eases loneliness and melancholy and brings feelings of comfort. Diffuse Rose essential oil to regulate your emotions and improve your spirits. 
  • Clary Sage: Clary Sage Essential Oil is renowned for reducing symptoms of tension and anxiety. A 2010 study found that clary sage essential oil has an anti-stress function13. To relax, ease the mind, and improve mood, apply clary sage directly or dilute it in a bath.
  • Lavender: It is commonly known that Lavender Essential Oil may relax the body and mind. It is frequently used as a natural antidepressant14, a means of lowering stress and anxiety. It is especially beneficial during this time of year when it can be challenging to get enough sunlight. 

7.   Spend Time with Your Friends and Family

Finding opportunities to interact with others and spend time with your loved ones can frequently lift your mood. Humans are incredibly social beings who require social support to manage stress and build resilience. One of the most significant defenses against mental health problems is having a social support network15.

Spend time with your family and friends, whether it be through cooking, skiing, or a night out. Gather your friends for hangouts and gaming nights. Try video calls or online hangouts if you feel low or your friends and family are far away. It can make you feel better and give you someone with whom you can discuss your emotions.

8.   Get An Adequate Amount of Sleep

A restful night's sleep is highly essential.  Sleep deprivation can make you feel worse. It has been linked to a higher rate of depression and other negative impacts on mental health16. Additionally, getting enough sleep (7 – 8 hours) might increase your emotional and mental resilience. However, since there is less sunlight in the winter, our circadian rhythms—the body's internal clock that helps control vital processes like sleeping patterns and mood—can become out of sync. Keep up a regular sleep schedule to combat this.

Try natural sleep aids to help you obtain a good night's sleep. Anyone experiencing winter depression and having irregular sleeping patterns may benefit significantly from Harmony’s Lavender Essential Oil and Bodytox Lavender Sleep Patches by H.E.A.Ls. These products promote stress relief and physical and mental relaxation.

Avoid blue light before bed if you have difficulties falling asleep at night because it can encourage wakefulness. Blue light emanates from some devices, including televisions, computers, tablets, and smartphones. However, most devices have a red-spectrum light function that is better for sleep if you wish to use it before bed.

Better still, avoid using screens at all for a few hours before bed. Create a bedtime routine that you love, including calming activities like reading, journaling, and meditation.

9.   Practice Keeping a Gratitude Journal

Writing is a valuable tool for capturing information about your feelings and thoughts. Keeping a gratitude journal simply takes five minutes per day, but the impact it has on your mental outlook and mood is enormous. List down at least one thing for which you are grateful each day at the end of the day. It might be as simple as, "I liked the sandwich I had at lunch." You might discover that your attention is drawn to the pleasant things that have occurred that day rather than the stressful or draining ones. It will change your negative to a positive narrative and elevate your mood.

The Bottom Line

It is common to feel down as winter approaches, but winter does not have to impact your mood and mental health negatively. Even though you cannot change the season, you can choose how to lessen the harmful impacts of depression. With these all-natural suggestions, we hope you can beat the wintertime depression and enjoy it to the fullest.

If the tips provided above do not appear to be helping, have an appointment to see your doctor or a mental health expert to determine whether you are experiencing mild depression or SAD, or something else. 

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