Looking for things to do to improve mental health later in the year?
As the weather gets colder, you have no choice but to stay cooped up in your home. You potentially develop a vitamin D deficiency and overall feel blue. That’s OK; it’s typical to feel depressed during the cold months.
The best ways to boost your mental health during the winter are vast and plentiful. So sit back, take a bubble bath, and enjoy a piece of dark chocolate; you’ll feel better before you know it.
This list is about finding ways to pay attention to the present moment, utilizing coping skills for psychological well being, and decreasing stress levels.
1 – Find Ways To Reduce Stress
One of the best ways to boost your mental health during the winter is finding the root of your stress and unhappiness.
Maybe it could relate to the foods you eat, how often you move around, or who you socialize with. If there’s a warm day during the week, try to go out for some fresh air. Not to mention donating can improve your mental and physical health, too.
If you don’t have the opportunity to go outside, treat yourself indoors. Take a bubble bath, do some stretching, or read a good book. Additionally, don’t miss out on sleep; try to get seven to nine hours to fight stress.
Here are four great ways to reduce stress and improve mental health:
- Keep Your Mind Busy – Doing something that keeps your mind occupied can be very beneficial. It reduces the power of stress, anxiety, and depression. I play chess 🙂
- Have A Morning Routine – By starting your day with a routine you boost your mental health. Afternoons are usually for rest, but mornings are for your mind. Don’t worry about getting up early per se. But have a routine in the morning when you do wake up!
- Movement – Movement has been shown to boost mental health because it releases endorphins that can boost moods. This is especially true if you run in the morning or afternoon when it’s warmer outside. If you’re not much of an exerciser, try walking around the block instead.
- Practice Mindfulness – This may be difficult to do indoors during these months, so take a step out into nature and meditate there. You will boost your mental energy all day by taking 10 minutes each day to focus on being present in the moment rather than worrying about what happens next. This can be one of the most important new skills you learn in your entire life!
2 – Eat Foods Packed With Nutrients
Food is a significant contributor to how you feel during the day. It’s one of the most important things to improve mental health! So instead of reaching for comfort foods for every meal, try snacks and foods that boost the positive chemicals in your brain.
As they say in yoga, mind and body are connected.
While you can’t control the weather, you have some choice in what you put in your body. Choosing foods like the ones listed below are a great decision in the name of good mental health!
Chicken is a lean protein containing the amino acid tryptophan. It assists in the natural production of serotonin, which is vital for helping your brain control your mood, fight depression, and increase memory retention.
Here are some easy ways to eat more chicken:
- Include chicken in your salad at lunch
- Grill chicken breasts and serve with roasted vegetables
- Make a simple chicken stir-fry
- Bake chicken drumsticks
- Put shredded chicken on top of your favorite whole grain pasta dish
Oats, soy, beans, wild rice—all are complex carbohydrates that promote energy. Whole grains also contain tryptophan, similar to chicken and turkey. As such, it helps reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Whole grains also improve cardiovascular health as we all know from reading those messages on the boxes of Cheerios!
Here are easy ways to eat more whole grains:
- Add cooked wild rice to your favorite chicken stir-fry
- Drizzle toast with honey, sprinkle some cinnamon on top, and enjoy
- Mix oatmeal into your morning yogurt
- Make brown rice or quinoa the side of your favorite entree
This tasty fruit comes packed with fiber which can keep both hunger pangs away and improve your mood by stabilizing blood sugar.
Avocados also help you with cognitive function, boost your absorption of important minerals, and increase the production of serotonin.
Here are a few recipes that include avocado:
- Serve mashed avocado as a side to grilled fish
- Blend avocado with lime juice and salt for a refreshing dressing
- Make an easy guacamole party dip
- Put avocado on toast and drizzle with olive oil
3 – Improve Mental Health with Gratitude
Perhaps the way you eat and your daily activities don’t contribute to your winter blues. It could come from a genetic background or is persistent throughout the winter. So consider adjusting your mindset and thinking habits.
It’s easier said than done but balancing out your thinking habits can assist in how your feel about yourself and everything around you. Instead of habitual sadness over inconveniences, try to think of it from a different, optimistic angle.
Even if you are a primary care provider or someone under incredible stress without emotional support, by turning your thoughts towards gratitude you can feel better.
The good thing about keeping a gratitude journal is that you start to rewire your thinking habits and improve mental wellness.
While you cannot control the weather or your genetic blueprint, you can choose to keep a gratitude journal. The benefits of doing so are immense from increased self esteem to overall well being.
Here are a few tips to keep a gratitude journal:
- At the end of every day, write down three things that you’re grateful for
- Make a habit of writing in your journal every morning
- Be specific with your gratitude entries
- Write about both big and small moments throughout your day
- Try to think of something to be grateful for even when you’re feeling down
- Revisit past entries to reflect on how your gratitude has changed or grown over time.
The benefits of gratitude are vast and impact not only our mental health but our physical health as well! By following these easy tips, you can boost your mood and enjoy winter to the fullest! 🙂
4 – Take Steps To Boost Vitamin D
Vitamin D is certainly not a vitamin, but rather a hormone. This hormone boost your immune system and helps with memory. A deficiency could boost feelings of depression and can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
Getting outside during the day might be difficult because of the cold temperatures; however.
But if you eat foods like mushrooms or drink milk that has been fortified with vitamin D, you will boost your levels without stepping outside. Of course, no one wants to stay coop up inside for too long, but if it’s cold out what you are going to do?
Here are some other ways to get vitamin D in the winter:
- Wear sunscreen when you do go outside.
- Take a vitamin D supplement if needed.
- Make sure your food is fortified with vitamin D.
- Eat foods high in vitamin D like salmon and mushrooms.
5 – Get More Sleep
This might seem like an easy way out; however, getting enough sleep can boost your mood and decrease anxiety and depression throughout the winter months.
The light that comes from spending time outside increases serotonin levels and can boost your shield against seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
It has been proven again and again but spending time outdoors is beneficial for our overall health; both mental health and physical! But if it’s too cold to get sun exposure, what else can we do?
Here are some tips for better sleep:
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine including reading or yoga.
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool.
- Invest in a good quality mattress and pillow.
- Use blackout curtains or an eye mask if needed.
Improve Mental Health Final Thoughts
The winter can be difficult on mental health for many reasons: the weather, the holidays, shorter days, etc.
But by following these five tips, you can boost your mood and mental health! Vitamin D, gratitude journaling, getting more sleep, and adjusting your mindset are all great ways to boost your mood during the winter months! 🙂
So there you have it – five easy tips to boost your mood and mental health during the winter! By implementing these tips into your daily routine, you can enjoy winter to the fullest! 🙂
Of course, be sure to reach out to friends for emotional support and continue building healthy relationships too.
But so often we forget about the relationship we have with ourselves! So don’t forget about putting yourself first because that’s ultimately how you improve your mental health and personal wellness.
As you take care of yourself, then you are in a better position to improve your mental health. For another article on how to journal for mental health read our post here!
With that being said, how do you boost your mood & mental health during the winter? Share in the comments below!