Beyond the Physical: 5 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health This Winter

  • December 14, 2022

The winter season brings a lot of joyful occasions, including get-togethers with people you love and giving heartfelt presents to friends and family. But as the days get colder, you may also feel more stressed out than before. Prioritizing your mental health at this time of the year can be a real lifesaver and get you through the winter without a major crisis.

1.      Get More Sleep

People often forget how important sleep is. It doesn’t matter what problems you’re dealing with—it could be stress at work, extra chores at home, projects with the kids, or a pre-existing mental health condition. If you don’t get enough sleep, everything will feel worse than it is. A bad day can cause a nervous breakdown if you woke up frequently, went to bed late, or woke up too early.

To prioritize your sleep, turn off your electronics about an hour before bedtime. Find an activity that helps you wind down a bit, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. You could read a novel, take a warm bath, or follow a guided meditation.

On the days where you can’t get to bed on time or stay up worrying about something that didn’t get done, give yourself extra grace. You may need to add an extra snack to fuel your body, and you may need to allow yourself extra time to complete your tasks.

2.      Make Time to Exercise

Exercising may be the last thing on your mind when you already have so many other things to do, but it really helps your mental health. Exercising produces endorphins and can help you cope with stress. You don’t have to run on the treadmill if you hate running. It could be something as simple as going for a walk, planking, doing jumping jacks, or lifting dumbbells at home.

3.      Focus on Community & Relationships

For some people, the holidays can be stressful because they have to spend time with difficult family members or because they miss family or friends who are no longer around. Humans need connections, especially when you’re so busy with your daily life of work and chores.

It’s important to schedule some time to meet with friends or members of your community to just talk or attend an event together. Even a boring company dinner can be mentally refreshing if you’re sitting next to your favorite coworker and laughing together.

4.      Relax & Prioritize Recreation

Our society values productivity over most everything else. It’s no wonder that we’re trying to do more with less time, burning ourselves out in the process. However, working 10-hour days doesn’t actually make you more productive. Scheduling time for relaxation and recreation does.

It’s important to schedule time to do something you enjoy doing every week. It could be chatting with your friend, getting a massage, playing a game of golf, or going to a restaurant. You also need some time to just relax and do nothing at all. Don’t feel guilty about watching a movie or reading a good book. It will help you be more productive later.

5.      Improve Your Nutrition

It’s difficult to consume healthy foods during the holidays when treats are available everywhere. But improving your nutrition can make a big difference for your mental health. Excess sugar and white flour can make you feel sluggish and unmotivated. And consuming loads of caffeine might help you get through the day, but it could make it more difficult to get a good night’s rest.

The best way to improve your nutrition is to use meal planning. Create a schedule for your dinner meals before the busy week starts and shop accordingly. You can also use batch cooking to have something healthy on hand when you’re just too busy to cook. Slip some vegetables and fruit into your daily snacking routine to add extra vitamins and minerals to your diet. Your mental health will thank you.

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