Winter. The days are cold and dark, and the nights are long. If you’re already struggling with depression or anxiety, these long bleak nights can make it even harder. We see you. Here are 13 tips for dealing with seasonal affective disorder, depression, anxiety, or even just wintertime blues during this long and chilly hibernation.
1. Cook yourself a nourishing meal.
Incorporate some beautifully grounding seasonal foods (think squash, potatoes, parsnips, and other root vegetables) into a warm soup or stew, and let it comfort your entire being.
2. Get comfy.
Wrap yourself up in the coziest blanket you can find;pull on your favorite sweatshirt and snug socks; cuddle up with a partner, friend, or pet; take a warm bath or shower; or make yourself a cup of tea or hot chocolate.
3. Increase your vitamin D intake.
Vitamin D is involved in the release of neurotransmitters (i.e. dopamine and serotonin) that regulate moods, and we naturally get less of it during the winter months. If you can, get outside or sit by a window for a few minutes and let the sun hit your face, especially in the morning hours. If you live in a place that’s cold and rainy, try getting Vitamin D in other ways: It’s found in eggs and fish; or, if you’re vegan, in certain grains and non-dairy milks. A good-quality supplement can also really help.
4. Try yoga.
Yoga can help you slow down and connect back into your body, both of which are beneficial for cultivating more relaxation and grounding. Movement also helps to release endorphins, which can elevate your mood.
Orgasms can help lower cortisol and increase serotonin. If you have a partner, get cozy. If you don’t, or if you’d rather just get cozy with yourself, light some candles, put on your favorite music, and touch away.
6. Massage it out.
Physical touch can help increase serotonin levels, evening out your mood. Swap massages with a loved one, or love yourself up by DIY-ing it.
7. Go to bed early.
Our bodies naturally crave more rest in the winter months, especially with the long dark nights. Nourish your body by tucking in early. Get warm, brew some tea, and give your body the break it deserves.
8. Spend time outside.
Just existing in nature can help decrease your stress levels and improve your mood. Going for a walk around your neighborhood, visiting a local park or conservatory, or even adding some plants to your home can all be beneficial.
9. Find things to love (or at least like) about the wintertime.
Especially if you really love the summertime, the winter can seem bleak, so it helps to find some small joy in the winter. Maybe you love the snow or the fresh start of the new year. Maybe it’s something as small as peppermint hot chocolate or your favorite sweater. If it’s accessible to you, try a cold-weather activity like playing in the snow or sledding. Whatever it is, find it and appreciate it.
10. Surround yourself with people you love.
If winter already brings you down, isolation only makes things worse. Invite a friend over for dinner, have a movie night with your partner, schedule a coffee date with your sibling—whoever they are, reach out to your people and find solace in their company.
11. Keep your body hydrated.
This will help remedy some of the physical dryness of winter and support your immune system. Drink lots of water and herbal tea—chamomile is especially calming. Coat your body with lotion or oil, slather on lip balm, and protect your skin from the cold with scarves and gloves. Sometimes giving your body some love can help the world seem a little brighter.
12. Create something.
If you feel like it, direct your emotions into a poem, a short story, a painting, a recipe, a collage—whatever feels right to you. Writing, journaling, or drawing can all be amazing ways to process your emotions. Focusing on creativity can help direct your energy away from how terrible you’re feeling.
13. Wear and/or surround yourself with bright and vibrant colors.
One of the major reasons winter can be so hard on us is the persistent darkness. Bring some lightness back into your life by donning your favorite bright hues and glittering accessories. Put up your brightest curtains, get a mug in your favorite color, pull out vibrant blankets and pillows and twinkling lights. Anything that makes your space feel a little brighter can help you make it through the gloomy nights.