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7 Ways to Boost Your Mental Health During Winter

  • Category: Health & Wellness
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Apicha Community Health Center

As winter fast approaches, you’ll notice some changes in weather, and maybe in yourself. 

During winter time, the days become shorter and colder. This can sometimes affect your mental health, and cause feelings of sadness and apathy. In this blog, we’re going to talk about a few different things you can do to keep your mental health in good shape.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. To be diagnosed with SAD, people must meet full criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons (appearing in the winter or summer months) for at least 2 years. There is treatment available for folks diagnosed with SAD, including psychotherapy, medication, and light therapy.

However, not everyone who feels a bit down during the winter season has SAD. Sometimes, the gloomy weather and short days can make you feel gloomy, too.

Tips to Boost Your Mental Health

1. Stay active. Yes, it can be hard to motivate yourself when it’s cold and dark outside, but getting at least four days of exercise for at least thirty minutes can help. Exercising can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression by releasing endorphins in your brain, a chemical that makes you feel good. If you don’t want to exercise outside, there are plenty of indoor activities you can do as well -- like going to the gym, doing yoga, or swimming at an indoor pool.

2. Eat healthy. This might sound like a no-brainer, but what you eat during the winter time could make a difference in how you feel -- physically and mentally. Although winter coincides with many holidays where you might be eating some extra treats, be sure to include food items that are antioxidant rich, contain Vitamins C, A, and K, and potassium. You should also make sure you’re staying hydrated by drinking enough water everyday.

3. Consider vitamin supplements. Before taking any supplements, you should consult with your doctor first. There are some supplements, like Vitamin D, that could be beneficial for you to take during the winter. A big source of Vitamin D is the sun, and when the days are shorter and darker, you may be missing out on getting the proper vitamin D intake. Omega-3 fatty acids might also be a good option, as they help stabilize mood and help moisturize your skin. Again, talk to your doctor before starting any supplements.

4. Maintain your social life. Studies show that humans benefit from being social and having good friendships. In the winter, it can be hard to have the motivation to get off the couch and do something on a gloomy day. Spending time with loved ones can boost your mood and help decrease depression. If you have a small or not many good relationships in your life, a good alternative to interacting with folks is volunteering or joining some sort of extracurricular group.

5. Get enough sleep. This may sound like another no-brainer, but the truth is, many people don’t get the right amount of sleep. Most adults should aim for around seven to nine hours of sleep per night. In the winter time, it can be tempting to turn up the heater and pile on the blankets, but research shows sleeping in cooler temperatures is better for you. It can help with insomnia, reduce stress, and decrease depression. Try keeping your thermostat in between 60 and 68 degrees, but make sure you’re still comfy and not cold.

6. Do what you love. Just because the weather is cold doesn’t mean you can do things you like to do. Doing activities that make you happy can help fight off feelings of sadness. If you like to hike, but can’t go because it’s too cold, consider talking a walk in your neighborhood park. If you’re stuck inside, think about indoor activities that you enjoy doing, and make an effort to do them.

7. Consider therapy. If you find yourself feeling down and need someone to talk to, therapy may be a good option for you. Working with a licensed professional can help you work through whatever it is you’re dealing with, and improve your overall wellbeing. 

How Apicha CHC Can Help You

Apicha CHC starts out with an assessment by a social worker to figure out what kind of behavioral health care you need and what is the best place to get that care. Following the assessment, the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) will make recommendations that may include any of the following:

1. Individual, couples, or family counseling at Apicha CHC or with a therapist in the community.

2. Referral to a psychiatrist.

3. Referral to specialized services such as for substance use or emergency treatment.

Other Resources for You

We understand that everyone is different, and handles things in their own way. Below, we included some of our other mental health resources, for your benefit. If you'd like to schedule an appointment with us, you can do so here, or clicking the image below.