Practical Tips for Maintaining Mental Well-Being
Staying positive during the winter months can be a challenge, especially for those who are struggling with seasonal depression (SAD). It’s normal to feel a bit down or sluggish during the colder, darker months, but for some people, these feelings can become more intense and disrupt daily life. If you’re struggling to maintain a positive outlook, it can be helpful to explore some strategies for managing your mood. Here are a few tips that can help:
Even on cloudy days, exposure to natural light can help improve your mood. Take a walk, go for a hike, or just sit outside and soak up some sun (when it’s available). Here are a few specific examples of ways to get outside:
- Go for a hike in a nearby park or nature reserve.
- Take a leisurely stroll around your neighborhood.
- Sit outside and read a book or listen to music.
- Go for a bike ride or jog.
Physical activity has been shown to have a positive effect on mood, so try to get in some form of exercise each day. This can be as simple as taking a walk around the block or doing a quick home workout. Here are a few examples of ways to incorporate exercise into your routine:
- Join a gym or fitness studio (if it’s open and safe to do so).
- Do a workout at home using online resources or workout DVDs.
- Go for a swim at a local pool.
- Join a sports team or club.
Practice relaxation techniques
Stress and anxiety can worsen symptoms of SAD, so it’s important to find ways to relax and destress. Consider trying techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. Here are a few specific examples of relaxation techniques you can try:
- Deep breathing: Take slow, deep breaths, focusing on the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body.
- Meditation: Find a quiet space and sit or lie down comfortably. Close your eyes and focus on your breath or a mantra.
- Yoga: Participate in a yoga class or try a yoga video at home.
- Massage: Treat yourself to a massage or give yourself a hand or foot massage.
Social isolation can be a common problem during the winter months, which can exacerbate feelings of sadness and loneliness. Make an effort to stay connected with friends and family, whether it’s through phone calls, video chats, or in-person visits (when it’s safe to do so). Here are a few specific examples of ways to stay connected with others:
- Reach out to friends and family members for a chat or video call.
- Attend virtual events or social gatherings.
- Join a support group or club.
- Volunteer your time to a cause you care about.
Seek professional help
If you’re struggling to manage your SAD on your own, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. A therapist or counselor can help you develop coping strategies for seasonal depression and provide support during this difficult time. Some options for seeking professional help include:
- Talk to your primary care doctor about a referral to a mental health professional.
- Search for therapists in your area and contact them for an appointment.
- Contact a crisis hotline if you are in immediate need of support.
Need to talk about seasonal depression?
Remember that it’s okay to not feel 100% all the time, and it’s important to be kind to yourself. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.