Whether you’re a cold-weather person or not, the winter months can be tough. Depending on where you live, the winter months can seem to drag on and on. Especially in the tail-end of the season—like in March—winter can seem practically endless. And the low temperatures and shorter days can affect your mood, too—which is why arming yourself with a solid self-care plan is so important.
Why Self-Care is Important During the Cold Winter Months
Winter is a time when there’s less color in the landscape and less sunlight in the day. Depending on the climate where we live, winter also means we can’t be outside for as long or as often as we’d like. That’s why seasonal depression (or seasonal affect disorder, SAD) is a reality for a lot of us during the winter months. The reduced levels of sunlight can lead to reduced serotonin levels in the brain, affecting our moods and sleep and overall affect.
14 Winter Self-Care Ideas to Boost Your Mood
Finding ways to care for ourselves during these months is super important. So, during the darker days when we’re often trapped inside, what are some ways we can ramp up our self-care?
1. Start a gratitude journal
If you’ve never tried gratitude journaling, the cold winter months are a great time to start. For some of us, we spend all winter long looking forward to the activities of summer. But there are lots of things we can appreciate about the winter seasons. One self-care routine we can do is writing through gratitude journal prompts or even just recording daily things we are thankful for.
2. Buy a new jigsaw puzzle
Jigsaw puzzles are a great winter self-care activity to try!
Even if you don’t consider yourself a puzzle person, a puzzle is a great way to practice self-care. Why? It forces you to sit back, be still, focus on the present moment, have some quiet time, and it can help reduce stress. The good news is there are millions of puzzles out there. So treat yourself to the one you’d like to look at and get to piecing!
3. Schedule weekly calls with friends and family
It makes a huge difference who you spend your time with. Maintaining healthy relationships and regular social intereaction is a perfect way to practice emotional self-care. And even if your friends and family don’t live nearby, there is a way to stay connected. The winter blues are quickly diverted with a familiar face on a video call and the laughter of a friend on the phone. This is one free, easy way we can be taking care of ourselves during the colder months.
4. Join a book club
Whether it’s a virtual or in-person club, a book club encourages you to keep reading on a regular routine. Plus, there are good books you may never find without a book club’s recommendations. The colder months are a good time for warm blankets, hot drinks, bubble baths, and good books.
5. Redecorate a room in your house
Spending more time inside is a great reason to revamp your living space!
During the winter season, we naturally spend more time inside. Which makes it a great time to do some reorganizing and redecorating. One winter self-care tip that we like is to pick a space in your home like your living room and express your creative side. String some fairy lights, add an essential oils diffuser, sew a new pillow cover, or find ways to make it a more personal and enjoyable space.
6. Try a new hobby
Hobbies are a great way to challenge yourself to learn something new. A new skill can also carry you through the dark days. Getting into that obsessive research and learning mode can actually be good for us. Especially if it’s something we’ve always wanted to learn. Check out our list of hobbies for women in their 20s and women in their 30s.
7. Start a new personal care routine
The cold days of winter are great days for starting a new personal care routine.
This is one of our favorite winter self-care activities because the possibilities are endless. Our bodies are so integrally tied to our minds. And when we set aside time to care for a part of our body uniquely and purposefully, it can have a profound impact on our mental health. Try a new nail care routine (have you heard of Olive & June), a skincare and facial routine, or even a hair care routine from home.
8. Bundle up and go outside
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s easy to overlook. During the cold days of winter, we can get trapped inside. While winter hiking may not be your thing (and that's understandable!) we often forget that even a short walk in the fresh air can make us feel better. If we can spend time outside every day, even for a short amount of time, we help our mental health by boosting our vitamin D, maintaining our circadian rhythm, and lowering our stress levels.
9. Start a movie marathon
Is there a movie series you’ve completely missed out on? The winter is a great time to schedule a movie viewing marathon—or a lazy day, whatever you want to call it!—for yourself. Whether you binge it in one weekend or space it out over the course of a month, pick a movie series, handful of holiday films, or anything else you’ve always wanted to try, and give yourself the freedom to just relax and enjoy. Bonus points if this marathon day includes scented candles, fuzzy socks, and hot chocolate.
10. Do yoga and meditation
If you’ve never tried yoga before, it may seem intimidating. But you don’t have to go to a yoga studio or gym to dip your toes in the water. There are lots of online videos for free (like Do Yoga With Me) where you can reap the health benefits of yoga practice without the pressure of the yoga environment. For meditation, check out our list of meditation apps for 2022.
11. Sit by a fireplace
You may not have the luxury of a fireplace in your own home or apartment, but chances are there’s one closer to you than you think. Check out a local coffee shop, bar, restaurant, or even hotel lobby. Sitting by the fire can cause us to focus our attention while relaxing our mind and body.
12. Take a weekly trip to the library
Going to the library is a winter season self-care activity to get out of the house!
Even if you’re not a big reader, time at the library can feel cathartic. Surrounded by stacks of books, grab a few to check out. Even if they’re “coffee table” or “young adult” books. Regardless of genre, flipping through physical pages while you read or skim can help you feel creative and mentally stimulated.
13. Make a plan for the new year
If you're reading this in November or December, making a plan for the coming year is an excellent form of self-care. We're not saying you need to make big, bold resolutions for the next calendar year, but taking time to map out how you want to spend your time in a way that feels intentional and meaningful to you is a powerful way to care for yourself, especially as the days grow colder and shorter.
14. Get your flu shot
Okay, okay: We know this isn't the most exciting self-care tip. But physical health and mental and emotional health are closely intertwined, so taking the time to get your flu shot and any other vaccines you may need—like you COVID booster—is an easy way to keep your physical health in tip-top shape all winter long.
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