Cold weather got you down? Whether you’re suffering from a mild case of the winter blues or full blown Seasonal Affective Disorder, rest assured that feelings of low energy and mild depression are pretty common this time of year. The trick is to pay attention and actively seek out activities designed to keep your physical, emotional, and psychological health aligned. If you’re looking for winter self-care ideas to help feel your best this season, we’re sharing 19 of our favorites below!
What Are the Benefits of Self-Care?
Our emotional health impacts how we feel about ourselves, enhances the quality of our relationships, and effects how we deal with our feelings and handle difficulties. An imbalance in our emotional health can lead to physical issues such as chest pains, ulcers, and high blood sugar, as well as emotional issues like anxiety, stress and depression. Self-care is key to our emotional health because it helps us manage stress and handle things, both positive or negative, in a healthy way.
When we take care of the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of our lives, we reduce emotional issues like stress, anxiety, and depression as well as the physical reactions they create, leaving us with more energy and motivation, and making us better able to handle the challenges life throws at us. There are many different types of self-care you can focus on to help you prioritize and take care of your well-being, and you can make them as simple or complex as you want them to be.
Engaging in regular self-care has been show to:
- Decrease feelings of stress, anxiety, and overwhelm
- Increase motivation and productivity
- Boost immune health
- Improve relationships with ourselves and with others
Why Is Self-Care Important in the Winter?
Feelings of low energy and mild depression are pretty common during the winter months, but for some people, the symptoms are much more exaggerated and extreme, causing them to experience one or several of the symptoms below:
- Feelings of sadness and depression
- Decreased energy
- Loss of interest in activities typically enjoyed
- Increased appetite and food cravings (typically carbohydrates)
- Weight gain
- Changes in sleep patterns (often sleeping more than usual)
- Difficulty concentrating
While self-care won’t necessary cure someone of these symptoms, it’s a great preventative measure to use to ensure you are checking in with your physical, emotional, and psychological health, and taking steps to keep them aligned.
19 Winter Self-Care Ideas You Have Time For
If you’re looking for winter self-care ideas you actually have time for, here are 19 ideas we love!
1. Start a gratitude journal
Take a few minutes each morning to write down 5 things you’re grateful for. These don’t need to be huge, but you do need to be intentional as you think through and write down the items on your list. A warm cup of coffee, a good book, lunch with a friend, and a lazy night watching movies with someone you love are all examples of small but meaningful things that can add a huge amount of joy to your life. Keeping a daily gratitude journal is one of my favorite winter self-care ideas as it takes very little time but can make a huge difference in setting a positive tone for the day ahead and reminding you to count your blessings.
2. Make sure you’re getting enough light
It can be really difficult to get a lot of natural light during the winter months given that it’s usually dark when we wake up in the morning and by the time we leave work in the evening, which can have a negative impact on our mood and energy levels. Try to spend more time outdoors, open blinds and curtains when you can, and pop vitamin D on the daily. If that doesn’t do the trick, talk to your doctor about investing in a SAD lamp – an artificial mood light designed to help you wake up and make you feel happier throughout the day.
3. Prioritize diet and exercise
If you have a tendency to feel blue during the winter months, I cannot stress enough the importance of prioritizing your physical and emotional health. Commit to eating a clean diet 80% of the time, keep your body hydrated, move your body for at least 30 minutes each day, and take the time to tend to your mental health too. Nourishing your body with good for you foods will help you feel your best and give your immune system a boost, and physical activity will release feel-good endorphins to ward of sadness and depression.
4. Get social
When the days are shorter and darker, and the weather is cold and snowy, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to go out and socialize with friends and family. The idea of hanging out on the couch in our PJs sounds much more appealing than braving the elements, but isolating yourself does nothing but perpetuate the winter blues. Be mindful of making (and keeping) plans with those who bring you joy, and if the weather interferes with your ability to physically connect with others, think outside the box. Setup a recurring date to chat via FaceTime to someone you love each week, organize a nightly ritual where you text one positive thing that happened to you that day to your mom or sister, or do what my university BFF and I do: send each other funny memes to add a bit of sunshine and sarcasm into your days!
5. Give your skin some TLC
The winter months can be extremely harsh on your skin, especially if you’re prone to eczema like me. If you’re looking for winter self-care ideas to help you relax and rejuvenate, invest in a calming lavender body wash and body lotion, experiment with different face masks and face peels, and pay attention to your feet and hands so you look and feel your best.
6. Embrace the outdoors
Getting into a winter sport, like skating, skiing, or snow shoeing will give you something to enjoy and look forward to during the winter months, and will also get you outside so you can soak up some vitamin D. Of course, not everyone can participate in outdoor sports such as this (and not all of us enjoy the cold!), but try to get outside as much as possible as the fresh air and sunlight will do wonders for your mood and help boost your energy.
7. Listen to upbeat music
Listening to music can be extremely therapeutic. Whether you’re blasting pop music during a workout, enjoying a little jazz while you cook dinner, or reliving your youth by singing along to tunes from the 80s or 90s, music can be extremely energizing and motivating, and can help boost your spirits when the weather is cold and dreary. We have Sonos speakers in all of the main areas of our home and stream music constantly, which really helps to create a happy, upbeat atmosphere.
8. Enjoy a Netflix binge
Some days, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your emotional well-being is to throw on your comfiest pair of jammies and lie on the couch binge-watching your favorite shows on Netflix. While it may not feel as productive as organizing your closet or going out for a run, there are times your mind and body needs to do…nothing. Enjoy the time and don’t feel an ounce of guilt about it!
9. Get organized
I know it seems a bit strange to include decluttering and organizing in a list of winter self-care ideas, but restoring a sense of order to your home (or office) can be extremely therapeutic. It can also promote a greater sense of control, which in turn will help you feel less stressed and anxious.
10. Create a home spa
If you’re on the hunt for winter self-care ideas that don’t take up a ton of time, there are tons of things you can try! Paint your nails, shape your eyebrows, repair damaged locks with a hydrating hair mask, or try out a sheet mask on your face. This is something you can enjoy with your kids, or you can invite your BFF over, pour some wine, and turn it into a girls night in!
11. Commit to a 30-day challenge
30-day challenges are a fun way to try something new for a specific period of time, and by limiting your commitment to only one month, it’s easier to stay motivated. Adopting new habits can be challenging, but imposing a time limit helps keep things manageable, thus helping to keep your motivation up. 30-day challenges offer a great way to get yourself ‘unstuck’, and are becoming a very popular self-improvement tool. If you’re looking for winter self-care ideas to help boost your mood and energy, check out this article for some inspiration!
12. Put your best foot forward
Another one of my favorite winter self-care ideas is to put time and effort into your appearance. I know a lot of people will criticize me for thinking makeup, hair, and fashion are important, but I consistently find that I feel my best when I put my best foot forward. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier and take the time to swipe on some mascara and blush, style your hair, and select an outfit that makes you feel good. It will do wonders for your mood.
13. Write a list of things that bring you joy
I was first introduced to this concept by Rachel Hollis, and I think it’s brilliant. The idea is to write out a list of all of the things that feed your soul and bring you joy, and then to schedule your time such that you can indulge in these things throughout the week to guarantee moments of pure happiness. Remember that these aren’t meant to be huge things that you can’t replicate on the regular, like buying a new car or going on a lavish vacation. Focus on the small stuff that makes you feel warm and fuzzy, like laughing with friends over cocktails, immersing yourself in a good book, enduring a tough workout, or buying yourself a new lipstick.
14. Make a vision board
If the cold weather is making you feel uninspired and unmotivated, consider making a vision board. This can help you identify what your dreams are, and will provide you with the imagery you need to stay focused on the goals you need to conquer to turn those dreams into reality. When creating a vision board, spend some time considering your personal growth, health and wellness, relationship, and career goals, and then find photos, quotes, song lyrics, trinkets, etc. that help bring those visions to life. Paste these items on a cork board or large piece of poster board, using as much creativity as you wish, and then display your board somewhere prominent so you will see it often to keep yourself motivated and accountable.
15. Spend time journaling
For those who enjoy writing, journaling is another one of my favorite winter self-care ideas. Writing in a journal provides a great outlet, helps promote a sense of calm, provides perspective, and can help identify triggers and patterns as well as provide solutions. We’ve written a whole post about journaling for emotional well-being, including our favorite guided journals and journal prompts, which you can read HERE.
16. Listen to inspiring podcasts
If you’re feeling down in the dumps, there are lots of motivational podcasts you can stream to help inspire you. I like to listen to podcasts while I’m doing mindless household chores like laundry, cooking, doing the dishes, or organizing closets and cupboards. I have a hard time preventing myself from ruminating over the past and worrying about the future when engaging in these activities, and find podcasts help keep my mind focused and centered. I’m a huge fan of the RISE and Goal Digger podcasts!
17. Take up a new hobby
Whether it’s blogging, photography, baking, or a home renovation project, find something you’re passionate about and make time for it! It will do wonders for your soul, and there are tons of great winter hobbies you can try that don’t involve spending time outdoors in the snow and cold. Teach yourself to knit and make scarves and gloves to donate to a charity close to your heart, take up photography and capture the beautiful scenery we take for granted throughout the season, create winterlicious recipes to enjoy with family and friends…you get the idea.
18. Create a summer bucket list
If you find the winter months long, dreary, and miserable, consider writing a summer bucket list and hanging it somewhere visible as a constant reminder of all the fun things you have to look forward to when the weather warms up. This is a great activity to do with your children as you can create a list for every family member and add to it periodically throughout the season, taking the time to discuss the ideas on everyone’s list!
19. Soak in the tub
My final suggestion for those who are looking for winter self-care ideas is perhaps the most simple of all. Few things feel quite as luxurious as pouring yourself a glass of wine, lighting some candles, and soaking in a hot tub at the end of a long day, particularly when the weather is cold and gloomy!
I hope you enjoyed this collection of winter self-care ideas, and that it inspires you to think outside the box and consider new and creative ways to indulge in a little TLC during the cold weather months. Remember to start small, to schedule self-care into your calendar to keep yourself accountable, and to never apologize for putting your physical and emotional needs first!
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