Throughout the year, many individuals take steps to care for their overall physical health. On warm days, some go for walks or bike rides, and others spend time each week preparing healthy meals. Without realizing, by caring for our physical health, we care for our mental health as well.However, as the seasons change and winter approaches, many health-boosting activities become more challenging. Grocery stores may no longer stock in-season fruits and vegetables, and the pavement, covered with ice, no longer beckons us to go for a run.
During these colder days, some people find it harder to care not only for their physical health but for their mental health as well. Feelings of sadness, irritability, or disinterest might make the season seem even longer and drearier.
If you’re struggling to stay active this winter, and you notice your mental health is waning as a result, try following three healthy tips:
1. Get a Pet
While you might not be able to go for a mood-boosting swim in the lake, other life pleasures can be enjoyed year-round. Consider heading to a local animal shelter to adopt a furry friend. Studies show that 74% of those people experience mental health improvements from keeping animals as companions. Additionally, pet owners tend to be more active. Even if you can’t go for a winter run, you can still get a little exercise by taking your new pup for a short winter walk.
Mental health experts also recommend visiting friends and family more during the winter to combat feelings of isolation. Spending time with loved ones can make us feel more important and get us laughing during less-happy times. Even getting out in public and interacting with a stranger can have mental health benefits. Consider heading to a coffee shop or restaurant– a short conversation with a waiter might help you feel more engaged, without the prolonged stress of socializing at a party or other gathering.
3. Embrace the Cold and Get Outside
Finally, try to view winter weather as something to embrace rather than endure. Though you may not personally enjoy the cold, occasionally make the effort to bundle up and get outside. Exposure to sunlight for as little as half an hour each day can boost Vitamin D and improve your overall mood. Most individuals also benefit from getting about 10,000 steps a day, and though individuals in labor-intensive industries get over 30,000, if you work a desk job, you could be getting as little as 5,000. Try some cold-weather activities, like skiing, sledding, or building a snowman. Going outside can help you get more sunshine and steps, and you might even enjoy the winter weather.
At any time of year, staying healthy in both mind and body takes work. However, the chill and isolation of winter can make overall wellness an even greater challenge. Try using these tips to stay moving and stay positive throughout the colder months.