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The start of winter is exciting. The cold, brisk air greets you as you walk outside. Snow hits the ground, creating a winter wonderland. After months have come and gone with frigid temps, though, you’re left feeling sick and tired of layering up.
The anticipation of spring’s arrival right around the corner brings hope. Birds will chirp, flowers will bloom, and life will be good. But what if it isn’t?
Prioritizing your mental health can be a year-round concern, but it can be especially hard to manage in the winter. While it can be affected by weather, sunny days are by no means a cure. Luckily, there are ways to give your mental health a boost before the seasonal transition begins. Here are a few to try out.
1. Create a Mental Health Routine
Intentional or not, everyone has routines in life. Simple things like waking up at a certain time, a morning coffee, and personal hygiene are common daily routines. But do you have a mental health routine in place? Many people don’t. To get started, you need to identify the areas that are most important to you.
If you struggle with depression or anxiety and know that exercising helps, work that into your days. If you’ve started mental health treatment, find a way to make sure you’re taking your prescription each day. You may benefit from using a daily pill organizer or a timer cap that records how long ago a pill bottle was opened. Some people even make taking their daily pills fun by putting them in mini gumball dispensers.
It’s important to come up with a few approaches that you can stick with. Create a habit that is ingrained in your day-to-day life and is manageable. Whether that’s therapy once a week or meditating five minutes each day, any step to improve mental health is worthwhile. Eventually, your routine will become second nature.
2. Make Consistent Social Plans
During winter, it’s natural to stay cooped up inside under a cozy blanket. It’s almost a necessity to avoid the outdoors with how cold it can be. But creating a habit of avoiding outside human interaction could negatively impact your mental health.
It’s important to start incorporating social activities before the weather warms up. That way, it’s something you’ve established as part of your weekly routine. When the season finally changes,
You’ll be able to simply build on the relationships you’ve been nurturing throughout winter.
And it doesn’t have to be a daily occurrence! A weekly coffee shop run or gym visit with a friend can do the trick. It’s really about finding a routine that gets you out of the house and into the world. Plus, once spring arrives, you can take advantage of the nice weather to switch things up. Win-win.
3. Look at Your Digital Consumption Habits
Like it or not, social media is ingrained in our society. On the one hand, it’s a beautiful way to disseminate information and feel connected to the world around us. On the other, it’s a menacing trap for comparison and negativity.
Look at your social media use and pay close attention to how you feel after scrolling. Are you anxious? Do you feel like you’re behind your peers? Does your life seem less cool and fun than before? If the answers are yes, it may be time to take a step back.
Social media detoxes are growing in popularity for many reasons — some are even backed by science. It’s no secret that social media can negatively impact mental health. From anxiety and depression to stress or the fear of missing out, the effects can be detrimental. So, monitoring how you use social media and the impact it has on your life is key.
4. Fuel Your Body
Taking a look at what you’re eating can also be a great way to boost your mental health. While heading to fast food drive-thrus may be convenient, the food might leave you feeling sluggish. So, it’s important to look critically at what you’re putting into your body.
The brain-gut connection — biological evidence showing the impact nutrition can have on mental health — is the perfect justification. Essentially, the food you eat and your mental health are inextricably connected. And that can be really great or really not.
Healthy, nutritiously dense food gives you energy and keeps your body running smoothly. However, the opposite is also true. If your eating habits aren’t where you want or need them to be, consider making a switch. Look for ways to incorporate whole foods and limit processed ones whenever possible. Powered by nutrition, you’ll likely be surprised at how much better you feel physically and mentally heading into spring.
5. Take Up a New Hobby
Some days, your normal routine of watching shows or scrolling just doesn’t sound enjoyable. But you’re left wondering what to do to fill the time. That’s where hobbies come in.
Grab the painting supplies you have laying around and give it a go. Start the home improvement project you’ve been putting off. Or do some research online to see what intrigues you enough to take it up. The point is to find something that’s fun, creative, or exciting — maybe even all three.
You’ll be able to do something with your free time that feels like an accomplishment. Free yourself of the burden of productivity and opt for the choice that brings you joy. By the time spring starts, you’ll have a multitude of ways to boost your spirits.
Get Ready for Spring
Whether you choose to implement all of these or just try one, any steps to improve your mental health are worthwhile. You’ll be happy you put in the time, energy, and effort early to make springtime that much more enjoyable.