For many of us, self-care isn’t a priority. We have a lot of responsibilities, tasks with specific deadlines, and often the care of our families comes before our own. By neglecting our mental and physical wellbeing, the seasons can seem much darker.
As the summer ebbs away, revealing the colder months, our lives become more difficult. The days become shorter, seasonal illnesses rear their ugly heads, and the holidays can bring additional stress. Is it any wonder that these darker days send us scrambling for methods to overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
While the grim aspects of the season may get you down, that doesn’t mean to say that you are powerless. By taking a proactive approach to self-care, you can make structured preparations that you can fit around your busy lifestyle. There is so much to love about this time of year, and some attention to your wellbeing can help you embrace the many wonderful experiences.
You certainly don’t want to be caught unawares when it comes to the chilly season. The sudden realization that late November is upon you, and you’ve made no self-care preparations, is a recipe for a frantic flurry of activity. A more helpful approach is to create a transitional period, gently making changes that ensure that by the time winter is in full swing, you can relax into it.
Start by swapping out your summer clothes for your winter wardrobe. The warm garments, elements for effective layering should all be accessible — don’t force yourself to rummage whenever you need a sweater! Place warm throws and blankets in the comfortable areas of your home, some slippers by the door so that you can pop them on as soon as you get inside. Have some fun redecorating your soft furnishings and accessories in fall colors, bring some plants indoors, surround yourself in aspects of the season that bring you joy.
It’s also important to make winter preparations for the integrity of your home. Your house is your safe space, and unexpected damages won’t help your seasonal stress levels. Undertake weather sealing to prevent leaks, inspect your exposed pipes for potential damages — if there’s anything you’re unsure of, it’s worth consulting a professional. Chances are you’ll be dependent upon reliable heating, so it certainly won’t hurt to have your HVAC system tuned up, too.
It can be easy to feel as though these darker months keep us trapped inside. The extremes of weather aren’t always the crisp, White Christmas scenes that encourage nostalgia; it can be downright miserable. All the more reason, then, to treat your inside time as a vital self-care tool, rather than a seasonal restriction.
Exercise in the Summer is easy, there’s ample incentive to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. As the cold starts to creep in, it’s important to devise an indoor exercise routine. You don’t necessarily need access to a full gym, there are yoga routines that are designed to keep you active and warm in the winter months. Whether you engage in gentle stretching, or hop on a treadmill to get your heart-rate up, exercising regularly will release endorphins, help improve your energy levels, and stave off the effects of SAD.
Alone time is also an important element of self-care, a great chance to recharge your batteries, but winter also has a tendency to make us feel quite isolated. Invite friends and loved ones into your home; don’t make it a stressful event, but have some fun with a games night or a movie. Take the hygge approach of welcoming friends into a cosy atmosphere, with mulled wine and a warm fire, even cook a simple meal together. Caring for yourself can also mean opening yourself up to the company of others.
Embracing the Outdoors
We get it — there’s a downpour of rain every 10 minutes, and you can’t leave the house without looking like you’re wearing every piece of clothing you own. Staying inside might be simpler, but shirking the outdoors makes for a poor self-care routine. By making the effort to step outside your front door, you’re opening yourself up to opportunities for discovery and fun.
Get back to nature. The change of seasons may not always be convenient, but it can make for beautiful experiences. Take a long walk out in the woods or along the coast and focus on the interesting or inspiring aspects of your environment. Take your friends or family along for the ride and discuss the beauty of your surroundings. Exercise in nature is integral to your physical and mental health, and can help to refresh your relationships. Whether it’s a daytrip, or a lunch break stroll — get outside!
There are going to be days when lengthy periods exposed to the elements aren’t especially healthy. That said, there are plenty of self-care activities away from the cold while not taking the hermit approach at home. Going to the gym, or even a bowling session with your friends, can support your winter fitness routine. If you’ve had enough strenuous activity, take a trip to the movies, head to the craft store for project materials, or stock up on books. Make regular efforts to leave your nest, even for a short time.
Health and Wellbeing
Getting through the winter season can be difficult enough without having to deal with illnesses. Unfortunately, this is exactly the time of year when illnesses are more common. While a virus can sometimes feel an inevitable part of your winter experience, your self-care routine can help you prevent sickness and ease symptoms.
A balanced approach to meals is such an integral aspect of your general health, particularly in the seasons during which we tend toward the sedentary. Following dietary routines that sustain a healthy weight even at times of minimal exercise, such as the ketogenic diet, allow for maintenance of health even when the weather or sickness prevents working out. It’s also worth remembering that autumn sees the harvest of a range of vegetables that are perfect for hearty, comforting soups and stews.
Taking in the sunshine at every opportunity is even more important during the colder months; apart from helping you maintain a positive outlook, vitamin D is an important ingredient in your fight against colds and influenza. When you get back inside, a warm bath also does more than wash away stress. A long, toasty soak has significant health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties. It can also improve your sleep quality, which is also a vital ingredient of your winter self-care routine.
As the seasons change, we can find it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle — it’s a time seemingly designed for stress, depression, and viruses. This needn’t be the case, and by taking a proactive approach to self-care we can prepare ourselves for the long, dark days ahead. What’s more, we have the opportunity to discover laughter, beauty, and joy beyond the storm clouds.
%focuskw% | Key Self-Care Preparations as the Seasons Change