If you’re suffering from winter stress, you’re not alone. Seasonal mood changes are extremely common. In fact, the American Academy of Family Physicians stated that 5% of the U.S. population deals with seasonal depression — that’s around sixteen million in America alone!
Why does this happen in winter?
So, why does winter bring about such stress and unhappiness? Well, there are varied reasons, some personal and some relating to the season.
To begin, the weather is colder, the days are shorter, and winter is filled with big, stressful events. It’s easy to understand why we start to feel a little overwhelmed — especially when simple tasks are just harder to do.
Getting out of bed when it’s still dark and cold, running to the shop, planning parties, presents, events. It all becomes too much.
This along with the actual physical effects of winter. Yes, we’re talking about those nasty little cold and flu illnesses. We can easily feel like the world is turning against us.
What does stress do to us?
When we start to feel stressed, our body reacts in a not-so-great way. Our blood sugar levels increase, our digestive system doesn’t work as well, and our immune system doesn’t work the same.
This is exactly why you start to feel hungry more frequently, tired, irritable. Our immune system doesn’t fight off illnesses which is why you constantly feel sick, and your body will just feel fatigued all the time. This is why we need to give our bodies some help with that.
Obviously, these are all things that we want to avoid. So, here are 16 surefire ways to fight those winter stresses and blues, in a healthy, productive way.
1. Look after your health
So, you get stressed, and your immune system fails you. Then you get more stressed because you’re ill. It goes on and on.
One of the best things you can do is give your body a fighting chance, eliminating stress and keeping yourself healthy.
We know, stress eating is a real thing, but please try to keep the cookies at a minimum. Nutrition is super important, especially when you’re stressed — keeping your body filled with all the good stuff that it really needs can even elevate your mood.
Make sure to take some vitamins too, especially vitamin D in the winter months — it might not entirely be the same as a sunbathe next to the beach, but it’ll keep you fighting healthy.
Sleep is also a big factor for your health. Getting enough rest every night will ensure that your immune system has the best chance.
2. Unwinding activities
We live in an age where we glorify working none stop. Everywhere just keeps telling us to keep pushing, keep working, rest little. It really isn’t healthy for us.
If we work too hard, push ourselves too much and don’t let ourselves relax we can experience burnout.
Burnout is defined as emotional and physical exhaustion, caused by an excessive and prolonged series of stress. The symptoms can include chronic fatigue, insomnia, lack of concentration, loss of appetite, anxiety, and depression.
Give yourself the privilege of unwinding every now and then. Great activities include:
- A nice, long, warm bath.
- A massage
- Read a great book
- Sit down with a nice cup of tea
- Watch a great (maybe not dramatic) movie cuddled up with a blanket
3. Be kind to yourself
We’re all so ridiculously mean and harsh on ourselves. Some of the things we tell ourselves every day will really be getting us down.
Just think, would you talk to your friends that way?
When a negative thought enters your mind, try to retaliate with a compliment. For example, if you start calling yourself “useless” or “stupid,” replace those words with “strong” and “intelligent.” Stop bullying yourself.
A great mental exercise to get stuck into is practicing positive affirmations every morning. Tell yourself how great and smart you are.
We have to be our own biggest fans.
4. Don’t distance yourself from friends
So, you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed? It’s not uncommon to cancel plans with friends in an attempt to gain some kind of control of your life. However, this can be really counterproductive.
Yes, you might lose a couple hours out of your busy schedule, but you’ll gain a lot of laughs and memories.
It’s also completely okay to ask for a helping hand. You’d help your friends out in a heartbeat, right? If you have too many errands to do, so much work stress and a lot of personal pressure, open up to them about it, and they might just be able to take the strain off you a little bit.
What are friends for?
5. Stay organized
One of the best ways to bust out stress from your life is to gain the upper hand. Sometimes, when our lives are in complete chaos, everything can seem like 300x worse. Even something as simple as going to a doctor’s appointment can mess with your entire day.
This can easily be solved with a few to do lists, a diary, and a carefully executed schedule.
Make sure you jot everything down, and it won’t seem quite as much. You might even find that you have hours free every night to just indulge yourself in that new book.
There are tonnes of online tools and platforms that can help with organization and managing your day.
6. But don’t plan too much
Yes, staying organized is essential but don’t let it take over your life — this can actually cause more stress.
Let there be a simple guide, something to help you remember the important things.
If you plan to rigorously you can begin to feel stressed if you miss something, or don’t stay on schedule.
We recommend writing down a to-do list, with no deadlines or set milestones. It’s really beneficial to be a little bit spontaneous sometimes.
It’s so cold, brrr. It’s dark. It’s time-consuming. All the excuses you’ve made to yourself? There’s no excuse great enough to not exercise.
Exercise has been proven to help reduce stress and anxiety. It helps to relax your muscles and releases the tension that’s built up in your body. It also helps to produce serotonin (our happy hormone) which will give us a more positive outlook on life.
Even ten minutes every day can make such a big difference. We understand if you don’t really fancy a winter jog, but at home workout videos on YouTube mean that you can exercise form the comfort and warmth of your living room.
8. Try out meditation or breathing exercises
If you’re feeling stressed, why not try out the activities designed to help with stress?
Yoga, meditation and breathing exercises can bring you back down to earth, allowing you to really focus on the essential things. Realizing that all the stresses that you’re experiencing aren’t as significant as they seem, can be a fundamental part of beating winter stress.
Obviously, you can take a trip to classes, but YouTube and apps like Calm are also great. Sometimes you just need bringing back down to earth and settling yourself in the moment of now.
9. Try out Light stimulators
It feels like you’ve been asleep for about five minutes before your alarm rudely wakes you up. Honestly, a bad wake up can set you up for the rest of the day. If Oprah Winfrey doesn’t need an alarm, we don’t need one either.
Dawn stimulators will wake you up to a peaceful sunrise, rather than a loud, annoying sound.
It could also be worth looking into light stimulators for around your house. Your mood could really be negatively affected. Light stimulators make you feel like you’re not in winter when you really are.
10. Essential Oils can help
Another little stress-busting gadget would be an essential oils diffuser. Essential oils come from the purest part of a plant, they promote your mood and restore your body.
A study showed that essential oils can have an effect on your mood, even helping to reduce the symptoms of depression. The results of the study concluded that essential oils could be considered as a treatment for depressive disorders.
Not to mention, they will make your entire house smell absolutely divine!
11. Take a trip outside
We know, it’s super cold and slippery. However, we can also promise that it really isn’t that bad — it’s actually super pretty and gives you a chance to wear your winter gear.
Getting fresh air, looking at nature and taking a breather (away from social media), can help you get a brighter outlook on life.
Sometimes hat stresses that are consuming your brain, really aren’t all that bad.
12. Take a holiday
What’s the best way to forget about the stresses in your daily life? A vacation, of course.
It doesn’t have to be anywhere crazy or expensive, a weekend break into a city that you’ve wanted to visit could do wonders for your brain. Taking a trip away from the life that’s causing you stress could put everything into perspective.
You’ll realize that when you return, everything will be the same. Nothing would have exploded into flames. Life continues, and that’s quite humbling.
13. Avoid harmful coping mechanisms
It’s easy to jump to alcohol or other destructive habits when you’re stressed. We can promise right now, it doesn’t help.
Like with everything, momentary relief doesn’t eliminate any of your problems, it can exasperate them.
The best thing to do, if you’re experiencing stress is to just tackle it head-on. Take a breather and work out ways that you can deal with. Avoid alcohol.
14. Look into professional help
Stress can be really horrible, it can demobilize you and lead to much worse moods. You should take it seriously, and if you’re not getting any kind of relief, look into professional help.
There are specialized therapists and helplines that can help you if you’re feeling stressed. They’ll be able to help.
Also, if your stress is being caused by your studies or workplace, talk to your teachers or managers just to explain how exactly you’re feeling, and how they can help.
15. Keep yourself warm
Just like the lack of light can make every negative mood feel worse, so can the cold. Making sure you’re nice and cozy at all times will just be one less thing to worry about.
Don’t just try to hack out the cold weather that won’t make you feel any better, snuggle up with a warm drink, wear woolly socks and set your thermostat to about 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
You’ll be surprised by how much light and heat can affect your mind.
16. Do what feels right
Stress can make you feel like you can’t do certain things. Perhaps you feel like going shopping or taking a trip to the movies? Chances are, your mind will start telling you all the reasons why you shouldn’t. Cancel out those thoughts, and do what you want to do.
Taking time out to laugh, dance, listen to music and listen to your body first and foremost is really important. This is also a super easy way to make yourself feel better.
Just remember, you’re not alone — stress and mood swings are common in the winter, you have every reason to be a little more overwhelmed or stressed than usual.
It’s powerful to remember that tomorrow is a new day, things will work themselves out and you’re strong enough to get through it. Take time out, look after yourself and try to avoid those pesky illnesses.
photo source: giphy + pexels