Staying mentally and physically healthy during winter

December 8, 2023

With less daylight and more dreary weather, the winter months can take a toll on our physical and mental health. It’s not uncommon to experience low energy levels, feel more irritable, or struggle with day-to-day routines. Here are some tips to help you support your overall well-being this winter.

Get outside

Winter weather doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stuck inside – at least not every day. Spending time in daylight will benefit your mood so when the weather permits, bundle up and get outside for a walk, some fresh air, and some Vitamin D (which is important for both energy and mood).

Move your body

We know physical activity is good for the body, but it also produces endorphins that help prevent feelings of anxiety and depression. So, whether it’s snowshoeing, skiing, building a snowman, going to the gym, or doing yoga at home, a mere 15 minutes of moderate exercise a day can boost your energy, help you sleep better, and improve your mood.

Maintain healthy eating and sleep habits

A healthy, balanced diet is a core component to protecting your body against many long-term chronic diseases and your mental health from worsening mood disorders such as depression. But the winter months can trigger unhealthy eating habits and overindulgence. To avoid overdoing it on comfort food or alcohol, stock up on healthy snacks and swap the cocktail with a mocktail.
Getting a good night sleep is also just as important for improving our mental and emotional resilience. To combat the disruptions winter can have on our circadian rhythms – our body’s natural clock that helps regulate sleep cycles – try setting a consistent schedule for when you wake up and go to bed.

Stay connected

The pandemic showed us that staying connected to others can greatly improve our mental well-being and reduce negative mental health symptoms. So, whether it’s in-person get togethers, phone chats, or virtual game nights, social connection is a basic human need and plays an important role in supporting our mental health. And if you’re looking for other ways to connect with people, volunteering offers numerous mental health benefits including reduced stress, boosted confidence, and a sense of purpose.

Recognizing the difference between “down days” and Seasonal Affective Disorder

It’s normal to experience seasonal mood fluctuations throughout the winter months. But if your “down days” occur at the same time every year or persist for days at a time, you could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year. There are several different treatment options for SAD, so be sure to check in with your doctor or health care provider.

The winter months don’t have to have an adverse effect on our physical and mental health. Implementing these easy steps into your everyday life can help you stay health and happy, through winter and all year long.