Winter Self-Care: Tips to Stay Well All Season Long

Jen Chinburg
Written By: Jen Chinburg

Self Care: Tips to Stay Well All Season Long

If you’ve spent time in New England, you know that the winters can be long and brutal — on our mental and physical health. Spring is coming, but we still have over five weeks to get there. While many of us want nothing more than to hibernate the cold days away, it’s important to practice winter self-care to stay healthy, positive and productive during the coldest time of the year.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritizing your health during the winter is more important than ever before. Read on for our winter self-care tips, including hobbies and activities that you can do even while social distancing:

6 Ways to Stay Healthy All Winter

Winter, Mental Health & SAD — What’s Going On?

16 Winter Hobbies & Activities

6 Ways to Stay Healthy All Winter

Try these winter self-care tips to keep your mind and body healthy, engaged and positive:

  1. Eat Well
    Take care of your body by making sure you eat enough fruits and veggies. You can explore recipes that include seasonal winter foods, like sweet potatoes, squash, clementines and asparagus. Also try “eating from the rainbow,” which involves eating fruits and veggies of different colors to maximize your nutrient intake.The lack of sunlight during the winter months also means we don’t get enough natural vitamin D, an essential vitamin that helps keep our bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Talk to your doctor about supplements or other sources to help get you through the winter.
  2. Exercise
    Staying active keeps the body and mind healthy. Try virtual yoga, dance or cardio classes available on YouTube or through your local gym. Snow sports like skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing are also excellent ways to enjoy the beautiful winter scenery and burn some calories.If you’re not an active person, even a short walk every day can increase your endorphin levels to help you feel good. Just make sure you’re dressed for the cold and stay safe in inclement weather.
  3. Get Some Sunlight
    The chances of developing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD, see below) increase without exposure to sunlight. Try spending as much time outside as possible when the sun is shining, and make sure to apply sunscreen. Even if you’re spending most of your time indoors, keep your blinds and curtains open to welcome the sun’s rays into your home.
  4. Hydrate & Moisturize
    The lack of humidity and exposure to heating sources throughout the winter months can be hard on your skin. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day and keep moisture-rich lotion on hand to soothe dry skin. Sleeping with a humidifier on is also a great way to give yourself a hydration boost.
  5. Find Ways to Stay Warm
    Maybe you’d enjoy a warm cup of cocoa while relaxing by the fire or a trip to your local sauna? When it’s cold outside, find ways to warm both your body and soul. On the Seacoast, Flōte offers infrared saunas to help detox the body, enhance immune function and lower blood pressure. Flōte also offers float therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture and other services to nourish your mind and body.
  6. Socialize
    Surround yourself with supportive people who make you feel good about yourself. Whether it’s FaceTiming with friends, joining a ski club or building snowmen with your family, take the time to nurture your important relationships.To maximize your ability to stay healthy and positive, it’s best to avoid:

    1. Staying indoors for long periods of time
    2. Overeating unhealthy foods
    3. Spending time around people who are sick
    4. Dehydrating habits like drinking alcohol, prolonged sun exposure without sunscreen and frequent hot showers

Winter, Mental Health & SAD — What’s Going On?

When the seasons change and the days become shorter, the lack of sunlight and cold weather can cause us to experience the winter blues. In fact, 6% of the U.S. population is impacted by seasonal affective disorder (SAD) every year, while 14% of U.S. adults experience at least some level of seasonal mood changes.

SAD is a type of seasonal depression that typically begins in the late fall and eases during the spring or summer. The symptoms of SAD are similar to those of depression, and they can last between four to five months out of the year. Symptoms can include:

  • Feeling depressed for most of the day, on most days
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in appetite or weight, including overeating and weight gain
  • Trouble sleeping or oversleeping
  • Low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Social withdrawal

It’s important to communicate your feelings and needs to loved ones, even though you may be inclined to isolate instead. Talking to a mental health counselor is another great way to find the support you need.

16 Winter Hobbies & Activities

There are plenty of indoor activities to keep you feeling busy and productive during the chilly winter months. Here are a few simple and satisfying hobbies to try:

  1. Learn to knit, crochet or embroider
  2. Take a painting class (Art with a Splash offers online classes!)
  3. Experiment with cooking and baking recipes
  4. Practice playing a musical instrument
  5. Work on home science experiments with the kids
  6. Make homemade candles or soaps
  7. Listen to music and curate playlists
  8. Read or listen to books
  9. Appreciate all you have by practicing daily gratitude
  10. Play with your pets (or adopt a new pet, if the time is right!)
  11. Care for your indoor plants
  12. Create a terrarium
  13. Start journaling
  14. Play games or puzzles with your friends and family (Diversions in downtown Portsmouth, NH has a wide selection of both)
  15. Watch feel-good movies and TV shows (check out our recommendations in the next section)
  16. Make your home as comfortable and warm as possible (see our décor tips below)

Watch These Feel-Good Shows & Movies

One of the best ways to get cozy on a cold winter night is to relax while watching a feel-good movie. Here are a few heartwarming and entertaining films and shows to check out:

For the grown-ups:

  • Ted Lasso
  • White Collar
  • Emily in Paris
  • Knives Out
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Sleepless in Seattle
  • The Proposal

Kid-friendly movies:

  • Encanto
  • The Secret of Roan Inish
  • Frozen (1 & 2)
  • Happy Feet
  • Moana
  • Cool Runnings
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • School of Rock

How to Decorate Your Home for the Winter Months

By focusing on making your home warm and inviting, you can conquer the cold winter months. Here are a few décor tips for winter homes:

  • Add twinkle lights to dark corners
  • Fill your home with hearty houseplants
  • Install draft blockers on doors that lead outside
  • Light candles or use an essential oil diffuser
  • Decorate with plush blankets, rugs and pillows

Winter may seem never-ending, but spring is just around the corner. With these self-care tips and activity ideas, you’ll be able to enjoy the season while patiently waiting for brighter days.