It’s almost time to say hello to the season of closed windows, grey skies, and (for some of us) fogged-up eyewear pretty soon. And if this is doing a number on your mood… Don’t worry. There are plenty of self-care strategies that’ll help put you in a sunnier mood even when, well, the actual sun is a little harder to catch. Oh, by the way: self-care doesn't need to be expensive. While the term self-care has become synonymous with indulgences like massages, facials, and lavish vacations, the truth is that there are plenty of budget-friendly ways to support your mental health during the colder months.
#1 – Increase your exposure to light
Your body needs sunlight to produce vitamin D, which has been shown to play an essential role in regulating mood and wellbeing. So, do make an effort to make the most of the available natural sunlight. Take a short walk around the neighbourhood, sit in a park, hike a local trail, and just let the sun shine on your face for a few minutes. Bonus tip: you can also strategically place mirrors around your house to reflect – and busk in – whatever natural sunlight streams into your home during the day.
#2 – Prioritise moving your body
As tempting as the colder weather may make the prospects of skipping your workout session, don’t! Staying in is only going to make you feel worse. Physical activity causes your body to produce neurotransmitters known as endorphins, which trigger feelings of happiness and euphoria. In fact, research shows that regular physical activity is a preventative measure for depression – and may even parallel antidepressants’ effectiveness in addressing major depressive disorder (MDD)! Now, time to get moving?
#3 – Remember to practice gratitude
Sure, the colder months can be a real bummer. But do you know what'd make you feel happier? Acknowledging – and appreciating – the goodness in your life. Research shows that the simple act of practising gratitude can help you feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, and deal with adversity (e.g. the impending winter). This might feel a little forced at first, especially when you feel like the cold is stealing all your joy away and giving you nothing to be grateful about. Try anyway. You might surprise yourself with what you start noticing. For example, that colleague who's always nice to you?
#4 – Take a long, relaxing bath
Indulge in a spa-like experience right in your own home by soaking in a bath. The simple act of sitting still in warm water can be incredibly therapeutic – and effective at getting you out of your head and into your body. And, of course, you can ramp up the experience by adding a few drops of essential oils (for scent) and lighting a few candles around the bathroom (for that ambience). It's also worth mentioning that if sleep typically evades you during the colder months, a bath 90 minutes before your bedtime can help.
#5 – Nourish your body with nutritious foods
The colder temperatures will have you reaching out for heavy, carb-laden dishes, sugary treats, and creamy sauces. And while this is a perfectly normal phenomenon, you should still try to prioritise nutritious foods (i.e. whole grains, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and lean meats) in your diet whenever possible. Research shows that unhealthy eating habits can exacerbate mood swings – and make you even grumpier when the season changes! We are what we eat, after all.
Finding it incredibly difficult to beat the cravings? Get in more protein! This satiating macronutrient keeps you full for longer, preventing you from making poor dietary choices. And if you're looking to boost your protein intake without the associated bloating from traditional protein shakes, check out Lean Blend’s Protein Water. So light and refreshing. Pure bliss to drink.