It’s been a challenging and stressful year for most people. With winter approaching, it can be extra difficult and maintaining mental wellness is important.
The cold winter months typically mean that people travel less and spend more time indoors. For those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), fewer hours of daylight in the winter may worsen their emotional and mental resolve.
In a pandemic, many issues become magnified. At least in the warmer, brighter months of late spring to early autumn, it was easy to be out in the fresh air and socialize while staying physically distant. The upcoming winter has the potential to create more periods of isolation and mental stress.
However, the next few months don’t need to be bleak and disheartening. Remember that mental health is mental wealth, which is just as important in life as financial wealth.
Live like the Danes do
One way to remain mentally strong in the winter is to observe the principle of “hygge.” Common in Denmark and, to a lesser degree, in Norway, the concept of hygge refers to adopting a lifestyle of coziness, friendship and general well being that leads to a feeling of comfort and contentment.
Hygge often focuses on creating a genuine sense of community and togetherness. These days, an intimate gathering with family and friends is more difficult, but you can still observe hygge with the standard precautions and safety measures taken now in any group environment.
You could play games, watch an inspiring movie or have pleasant conversations about engaging topics. Great food and drink – enjoyed in a cozy, comfy and visually appealing environment – will do wonders to help people relax and be mentally revitalized. Colourful furniture and accessories can set a positive mood, as will the warming beauty of decorative candles with uplifting scents.
If the group is amenable to venturing outside, you could take a leisurely stroll (or a vigorous trek if everyone is up for it) and be mindful of all the beauty and serenity that nature has to offer in winter.
Winter wellness tips
To help you cope and even thrive over the winter season, here are a few additional tips for staying mentally strong and engaged:
- Be physically active, indoors and outdoors. Regular exercise and play can be great for body, mind and spirit. Avoid overexerting and try to focus on your breathing so you can stay calm and relaxed
- Let nourishing, invigorating light into your home during the day, and consider closing drapes and blinds at night to help capture that daytime warmth
- Exposure to sunlight helps your body produce mood-enhancing Vitamin D, but with less sunlight in the winter you may benefit from Vitamin D supplements. Just be sure to consult first with your health care practitioner to see if supplementation is appropriate for you
- If you are prone to SAD, you may want to use special lighting devices in the early morning or evening so you can benefit from illumination therapy that may enhance your mood
- Keep connected with family and friends. Even if you can’t see them in person (or you see them less often than usual), try using the same technology that you have through most of the year. Reach out to loved ones by phone, email, virtual chat, texting or social media
- Stay mentally active. In addition to your work duties, consider making time to enjoy other mentally stimulating activities as well. These activities may include reading, puzzles, board games, etc.
- Indulge in your favourite hobbies and challenge yourself by learning new skills that interest you. Self improvement is a wonderful way to keep you mentally active and stimulated
Winter might be around the corner, but it doesn’t mean you’re destined for months of gloom and stress. As you can see, there are many enjoyable ways to unwind and recharge yourself mentally. If life gets too hectic – especially around the holiday season – take a few moments on your own to relax, be at peace and raise your spirits.