Since becoming an adult I have learned that self care is extremely important. If you don’t take care of your mental health everything else in your life can slowly start to collapse. This is especially important during the winter months. My mood is dependent on the weather and with this surprisingly dreary Vancouver weather I have noticed that I’ve needed to set aside extra time for myself.
One important part of winter self care is eating right. During the winter eating healthy gets harder: there is a lack of fresh vegetables and comfort food becomes more appealing. The best way to feel satisfied is to keep a meal plan and learn how to add replacements in your favourite comfort food meals. I love adding veggies to my meals because it adds flavour and essential nutrients. Mac n’ cheese is one of the best flexible meals. You can add spinach, cauliflower, peas, or any other veggies you love.
It’s always good to have pre-made dinners in the fridge or freezer in the winter. That way if you have a bad mental health day and can’t gather the motivation to cook, you have healthy meals ready to go. I do my meal prep on Sundays.
While staying healthy is important to your body and mind, it is also vital that you have balance. Depriving yourself of food does not help your mental health.
Working out is also something that can be hard to do in the winter. The weather is cold, the beach is frozen, the hikes aren’t safe. It also becomes harder to walk or bike places. If you have the money, a gym is an easy answer but if not, you may have to get creative. This winter I got back into yoga and I have really been loving it. It can be as intense as you want it to be and always boosts my mood. Getting the body moving is a great way to stay mentally healthy. It releases happy hormones and gets your blood flowing. Other great ideas include looking for activities in the community. My university offers free workout classes or events every once and a while , so I would suggest looking into yours.
There’s nothing better than doing yoga in a cozy setting while the snow falls outside your window.
Grab a cup of tea and the coziness increases. I love tea in the winter… so much so that I have been having about 3 cups a day haha. We have so much tea at our house right now. Tea is an instant mood booster and relaxer. I love the feeling of the warm liquid as it reaches my stomach. Drinking tea is usually the first thing I do on a bad mental health day.
I have also become an advocate for baths. I have always loved baths but this winter I have been having baths at least twice a week. It has been so cold in Vancouver that I have been needing baths to de-thaw me after a long day in the cold. This is also another good way to get your blood moving and increase circulation. I just put on an episode of friends and relax for about 40 minutes. It’s my therapy.
I love plants. Seeing something grow from a tiny seed is so cool. It’s also good to keep a plant when you have poor mental health because taking care of a small thing can help you take care of yourself. When you have something in front of you that thrives when fed and watered and wilts when ignored you are more likely to nourish it. And the act of watering the plant can kick start productivity and helping yourself. Also plants are known to boost your mood .
Another good thing for mental health is to leave your house. I am so guilty of this in the winter months. If I don’t have a commitment, I will not venture into the cold. However, after not leaving for a while I start to go stir crazy. You don’t have to go far, just leave the house to go grocery shopping, or grab a coffee, or go for a walk around the neighbourhood. All you need is 5 minutes. If you have the money, traveling is always a good idea. I, myself, am in dire need of new scenery. I want to travel somewhere warm. However, I am very broke.
This winter doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon so make sure you are taking care of yourself. Draw a bath, make some tea and wind down with some yoga the next time you feel yourself getting stressed out. And above all, don’t forget to breathe.