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11 simple ways to improve you mental health this winter

Mental health awareness needs to be spoken about, more specifically, seasonal depression! After this whole covid lock down many of us have discovered new found mental health issues within ourselves. I know I have and with winter around the corner they will be popping up again.

Winter is coming along with shorter days, less sunlight, and something called seasonal depression. Supporting one’s mental health throughout the winter months has been shown to be more difficult than in the summer time. Understandably so as I don’t seem to have the motivation to get out bed when its pitch black and pouring rain. Perhaps you feel the same? I do not have sever depression, if you do I suggest you look further than this post as depression is not something to take lightly. However, if you are like me and just get a little more down in the winter months, take a look at these 11 tips to improve mental health this winter!

11 tips to ease seasonal depression this winter 2022
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Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. I am not a doctor and do not claim to be as these are solely based on my experiences. Please consult your family doctor before considering any recommendations listed in this post. Thanks!

What is seasonal depression (SAD)?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Ironic name isn’t it? SAD is also known as seasonal depression when one’s mood changes as the seasons change. Have you noticed you’re a little more down as November hits? You may be suffering from seasonal depression. If so, YOU ARE NOT ALONE, about 4-6% of Americans suffer from SAD and 20% suffer from a mild form of it.

Signs you may suffer from SAD:

  • Feeling tired and moody all the time
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Isolation
  • Lack of sleep
  • Brain fog
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
  • Weight gain or loss
  • In extreme cases you may not want to live

SAD is a condition that effect a lot of people at different intensities, all of which are valid and deserve addressing. Here are 11 ways you can improve your metal health and mood this holiday season and show up as your vibrant self.❤

1. Exercise

Exercise is an antidote to many types of depression, including seasonal depression. The endorphin high achieved by exercise can greatly impact your mood and also allow you to feel accomplished. Additionally, exercise can offset some weight gain if that is one of the symptoms you are experiencing due to lack of motivation.

I am a runner; I love to run outside but living in Canada, sometimes the winter months can put a damper on my plans. So I layer up and get outside when I can and if I can’t then I move my body in other ways such as:

  • Yoga
  • Spin classes (the social aspect is great too)
  • Lift some heavy weights

What activities do you do that bring you joy? Do more of those! Bonus if you drag a friend along with you;)

2. Vitamin D

Its no surprise that we get less sunshine in the winter time, less sun also means vitamin D. Vitamin D is a major contributor to our mood and mental health so try to keep the blinds open, set up your workspace near a natural light source, and get outside when you can!

You can also supplement with vitamin D drops if you feel like you do not get enough from natural sources.

3. Acts of service

Do good and feel good. Doing small acts of kindness for your family, friends, and even strangers can have a positive impact on your mood. Get into the mindset of giving this winter, after all, that’s what the holidays are all about! Which reminds me – I have an awesome way you can give back to your loved ones and put a big juicy smile on their face this holiday season.

Speaking of acts of service, in this post I have partnered with an amazing company called Poems by post. They are a small business that sends thoughtful poems to your doorstep each month. An amazing gift for your friends and family around the globe. Or even subscribe yourself to get a little bit of joy sent to your door each month.

mental health awareness starts with self awareness. Seasonal depression is a mental health issue I like to ease with poems
For November I received a beautiful poem called “If you are asking for forever”. Give it a read and then check out their website for more examples!

4. Therapy is cool!

Talking to someone who is not related to you is underrated! Ive been in therapy multiple times for different reasons. Therapists are there to offer guidance In the right direction and give you a space to unload your thoughts.

Speaking with family can only go so far until your words effect how they may feel and it’s a whole deal. I never want my family to worry about me or treat me differently but I also need the space to talk about my feelings. Queue therapy sesh!

5. Get social

Get out of your head and into the world! Seeing other doing life has a comforting effect and shows that you can do that too. Life is so much bigger than our problems and going out with your girlfriends and doing fun activities is a great way to prove that to yourself.

6. A woman’s favourite word “relax”

As a woman, I LOATH the word “Relax” especially when I’m mad, PMS-ing, and have had 1 too many cups of coffee. BUT, relaxing allows your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in (the rest and digest). Meditation, yoga, and reading are a few of my favourite ways to calm my nervous system down and support my mental health.

7. You are what you eat

Nutrient deficiencies are linked to depression so make food choices that support your body – especially in the winter months. Did you also know that your gut health directly impacts your mood! All the more reason to eat healthy Foods that contain nutrients your body needs:

  • fatty fish like salmon
  • Dark chocolate
  • Fermented foods
  • Nuts and seeds
  • beans and lentils

8. Get your Z’s

SLEEP! Your body needs adequate rest in order to function properly and for your mind to be healthy. Sleeping too much is a sign of a low mood so take note about how many hours of restful sleep you get per night (should be between 7-8 hours).

9. What’s your purpose?

Often times when we feel down on ourselves we think “what am I here for?”. As a young adult myself with no clue what the future has in store for me or where ill be in 5 years, the future is scary. Try to focus on the here and now and what you can do to support your future self but don’t get too down if you don’t have a path yet. Trust that you are being guided in the right direction and when you feel inspired, go take action!

Download my free guide on how to find your “why” below😊

10. Lean into your loved ones

I mentioned therapy in tip #4 and the benefits of an outsourced support system. However, there are so many people around us who care about us and what us to reach our goals. Find those people and gently lean on them when you need to. Ask them if they have the emotional capacity to talk about what you’re going through and 9 times out of 10 they will be more than happy to listen. For me, those people are

  • My mom
  • My best friends
  • You guys <3

After I finish talking to them I feel lit up again!

11. Find joy in the little things

You know those little things about your day that go unnoticed but when you take a step back, it wouldn’t be a good day without them? Think of your cup of coffee in the morning, the way your partner looks are you, a Stanger who smiled at you, the smell of your neighbours cooking bacon on a Saturday morning. Look for the small things in life that may seem mundane but are such beautiful things about life.

bonus! 10 Affirmations to improve your mental health

To polish off this (hopefully) uplifting and positive post, I bring you a few of my favourite affirmations at the moment. Feel free to download my free printable version of my gratitude journal and add it to your morning routine!

  1. “You say you’re ‘depressed’ – all I see is resilience. You are allowed to feel messed up and inside out. It doesn’t mean you’re defective – it just means you’re human.” ― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
  2.  “I found that with depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone.” — Dwayne Johnson
  3.  “Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.” ― Stephen Fry
  4. “It is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.”- queen elizabeth
  5. “There is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” – Amanda Gordman
  6. “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – Brooke T Washington
  7. “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” -A.A Milne
  8. “You can’t rely on how you look to sustain you, what sustains us, what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion; for yourself and your those around you.” – Lupita Nyong’o
  9. “We will fail when we fail to try.” – Rosa Parks
  10. “All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney

Wrapping it up

Seasonal depression (SAD) can get the best of us, sometime unexpectedly. However, there are ways you can support yourself through it and feel good. You are no alone in this world and if you take anything away from this post, let it be that<3

Comment down below your favourite affirmation or quote that has got you through a tough time

Xx Hailee

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7 Comments

  1. I found this article at the exact right time! With it being dark so early after turning back the clocks – I really needed this advice so as not to get bummed out!

  2. I love your acts of service suggestion! Especially with the time of year where some might be a little lonely or struggling. You can make a difference, which will also help you. Great post!

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