Maintaining Good Mental Health in Fall and Winter

As the days get shorter, the nights get longer, and the temperature continues to drop, it’s not unusual to feel a decline in our overall mental wellness. The good news is that there are tangible ways to make the most of this time of year while improving our mental well-being. Read on to learn more about the simple ways you can adjust your routine when the weather gets cold.

Keep Active

Cooler temperatures can disrupt healthy habits that may have been forged in the spring and summer months. You may prefer to not venture outside for your daily walk and instead stay in bed or curl up on the couch with a warm blanket. However, it is important to be aware and find new ways to keep active. Physical activity produces endorphins that help to prevent feelings of anxiety and depression, and if you find an activity you look forward to, you might not even feel like you’re exercising.

It’s the perfect time to try things like:

  • Skating, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
  • Consider going for walks on an indoor track or in a mall or finding a workout or dance routine video you can do in the comfort of your home.
  • Gather the kids and tackle raking leaves together (be sure to jump in the pile for good fun when you’re done!)
  • Build a snowperson or snow fort followed by shared warm beverages.

Make Up for Lost Sunshine

A decrease in daylight hours can have an impact on your mood such as feeling more down or irritable as well as decreasing your enjoyment in things that you typically like to do, reducing your energy, disrupting your eating and sleep routine, and having trouble concentrating.

It is important to be aware of such impacts to help change negative thinking and attempt to enjoy the sunshine whenever you can, even it is cold outside! Bundle up and go for a walk during your lunch break or first thing in the morning. The feeling of the sun on your face is an instant mood booster, so be sure to take advantage whenever the sun makes an appearance. Sticking with a night of good sleep and a daily routine that includes good nutrition and physical activity can also help to boost your mental health and increase your energy.

Establish Healthy Routines

Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated, especially at this time of year. We get it! That’s why having a routine to fall back on in tough times can be so helpful. Your “routine” doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as committing to going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day while establishing a small list of habits, tasks, or activities that help you to feel your best.

Here are a few healthy habits to consider making a part of your daily routine:

  • Each morning, acknowledge three things you’re grateful for in a journal, or out loud, or in conversation with a loved one.
  • Commit to being physically active for at least 20 minutes three times per week. Maybe each Monday, you meet up with a neighbour for a walk around the neighbourhood! It gives you something to look forward to and having an accountability partner means you’re more likely to follow through.
  • Find a way to make the best of the shorter days. It may get darker sooner than you’d like but lean into it by embracing plenty of at-home movie nights, cozy nights in cooking new recipes, and time spent reading or listening to music Having something small to look forward to each week or night will help you to maintain your overall well-being.

Get Enough Sleep

If you notice yourself getting sleepy earlier than usual, embrace it! This could be a chance to establish healthy sleep schedules that will be easier to maintain once winter is over. So, get cozy, pile on the comfy blankets, sleep your way to a better day.

According to the Canadian Pediatric Society and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), these are the recommended nightly hours of sleep by age bracket:

● 10–13 hours of sleep/night for children ages 3–5 years old
● 9–12 hours of sleep/night for children ages 6–12 years old
● 8–10 hours of sleep/night for children 13–18 years old
● 7–9 hours of sleep/night for adults ages 18–64 years old
● 7–8 hours of sleep/night for adults ages 64+

Get Extra Help if You Need it

This fall and winter may finally be the right time to seek extra support if your regular mental health routine and seasonal adjustments just aren’t cutting it. That’s where the Strongest Families Institute comes in. We teach evidence-based skills to help individuals overcome mild to moderate mental health issues impacting mental health and well-being. We offer programs for people ages three and up. We offer a variety of programs that help clients and their families overcome anxiety, depression, bedwetting, behaviour challenges, and recurrent headache or belly pain. Best of all, the programs can be completed in the comfort and privacy of your own home via telephone or online. There’s no need to bundle up and leave the house, making the idea of trying something new a little easier to reach out to us for support.

Our caring telephone support coaches are here to help in a judgement-free space. Read more about how you can get help from Strongest Families Institute, here.

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