There is something that sunshine does to the body and mind. This has something to do with boosting the formation of vitamin D3 that is responsible for lifting the moods in a person. It’s no wonder people tend to be energetic and cheerful in the summer months.
When the winter sets in, temperatures start falling, and days become shorter; the opposite happens. Moods and energy levels fall, leaving one feeling low, sad, fatigued, and lethargic. People also tend to eat and sleep more than be out and about bubbling and happiness. In addition, people with preexisting conditions such as depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses find it difficult to cope with them at this time of the year.
We call it winter blues, but it is a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is when a change in seasons negatively affects one’s feelings and thoughts.
Thankfully, there is a lot that you can do to ensure that you maintain good mental health during winter. Here are some of them.
1. Get enough natural light exposure
Sunlight is rare during winter, but you can still get some hints of it during the brightest part of the day. Make the most of that time of the day by spending some time outdoors. You can go for a walk or just bask in the backyard. If you can’t go outside, sit near a window any chance that you get.
In addition, let in as much natural light as possible. Make sure you open the curtains/blinds during the day. You can also paint your walls in a bright color to reflect the light.
2. Consume vitamin D rich foods
As said earlier, vitamin D helps in boosting the mood and morale. Most of it comes about after the skin gets exposure to the sun. However, the little sun during winter isn’t strong enough to make enough vitamin D for the body. Thankfully, there are foods that can give the body some vitamin D. Make sure you are consuming vitamin D-rich foods such as fish, liver, red meat, and cereals. In addition, take a daily dose of vitamin D supplements.
3. Grow indoor plants
Being around greenery helps calm the mind and lift the spirits. With winter weather, however, going outdoors can sometimes prove impossible. Create your own greenery indoors by choosing a few of your favorite indoor plants or starting a vegetable and herbs garden indoors. Utilize grow tents to ensure that the plants are getting a good environment to grow.
Besides lifting the spirits, caring for plants keeps you up and moving. You have no time to sulk or harbor negative feelings as your mind is refocused.
4. Exercise the body
With the chilly winter weather, exercise and outdoor activities are the last things to think of for most people. However, physical activity is known to help in the production of feel-good hormones such as endorphins and serotonin.
Even if you feel like hiding yourself under the covers the whole day, push yourself to do a few exercises. You can register for an online workout class to get some guidelines or follow along with some workout videos. Instead of watching the TV curled up on the sofa, get on the treadmill, and enjoy your shows while getting your body moving.
Winter blues tend to make people hibernate and isolate themselves. However, bottling up the negative feelings is a sure way to get you more stressed out. Socializing, on the other hand, is one way to raise endorphin levels and lighten your mood. That is why you should try to be around friends and family whenever possible during winter. Try doing something fun together, such as cooking or playing indoor games. If you live alone, use video calling to connect with the people that you love.
6. Get enough sleep
The weather is bad enough to get you dull and sad. You can imagine how worse it can get if you have to deal with sleep-related fatigue and irritability. To avoid this, ensure that you are getting enough sleep every night. Keep a regular sleep schedule by sleeping and waking up at the same every day of the week. In addition, try as much as possible to avoid napping during the day.
Winter blues are real, and if you do nothing about them, the negative feelings can get severe and spill over to your work and daily routine. Try the above tips to keep them away. If they persist, it is always wise to seek professional help.
Do you have any tips for fellow travel nurses on maintaining good mental health during the winter? Have you found ways to keep your mental health in check during the winter months? Comment them below.