Let’s face it; it is hard to stay mentally healthy throughout the long winter months. The days, weeks, and months of dreary weather wreak havoc on our body and spirit, I longed for winter when I was a child growing up in the Midwest. A Midwestern winter meant sledding, ice skating, hot cocoa, and snowball fights. Now, as an adult, the winter means lots of inconveniences during my morning commute and, more seriously, a battle against a nagging moodiness that deepens with the snow. Fortunately, there are ways to stay mentally healthy in the winter. Here are some of my best tips.
There is a lot of truth to the adage that a healthy mind relies on a healthy body. It is too easy to slack off on a fitness routine during the winter. The tendency to slack off is especially true if you don’t enjoy winter sports. However, I’ve found that I feel better on the days that I bundle up and take a walk outside. A winter stroll calms those moody feelings! Of course, make sure to dress appropriately and do not exercise outdoors if there are any cold weather warnings in your area.
In addition to walking, many people find relief through exercise at the gym. This is the perfect time to try a new exercise class. I have a cyclist friend who uses the winter to take indoor cycling classes. She also cares for her inner spirit through a bi-weekly yoga class.
Resist the temptation to indulge in too many sweets and fattening foods. Believe me; you’ll be tempted! For some reason, bulky sweaters are often employed to hide the extra weight around our middle that many of us pack on in the cold weather. Over time, I’ve realized that my mood improves if I make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. These are the months to make a big pot of homemade vegetable stew and enjoy a bowl for lunch all week. I also savor a hot mug of peppermint tea each afternoon. The act of holding a steaming cup in my hands soothes my spirit.
The older I get, the more I appreciate the solitude of the season. I try and take a weekly trip to my local library to find a good book. I’ve spent countless hours escaping into books as winter storms rage outside my window. You will, due to the forces of nature, spend more time indoors during these months. Why not enrich your mind through a few good books?
In essence, I think that the best way to make it through the winter is to be kind to yourself. Make sure that you get outside and enjoy nature as much as possible. Your physical health will benefit from the exercise, and your spirit will soar. Try and eat healthy foods that nourish without adding too many extra pounds. Lastly, embrace the quiet time and read good books.