A key component in maintaining a well-balanced life is having a healthy mind. Far too often when we think of our overall health we tend to ignore our mental health. However, ignoring your mental health can have serious consequences on your overall well-being.
Staying mentally healthy during any time of the year can seem difficult, but maintaining your mental well-being during winter can be even harder. Many people will start to feel a bit “off” or unmotivated mentally during the long winter months. This can be due to many factors that accompany the winter season,such as the harsh weather, the lack of sunshine, and the spread of sickness are just a few things that can negatively impact mental health.
Taking stock of your mental health can be difficult, but will help you live a more productive and fulfilled life. This winter, stay mindful of your mental health by following this guide to staying mentally fresh and avoiding the winter blues.
While the harsh conditions of winter can make it difficult to want to go outside, getting outdoors at least a few times a week can provide a huge boost to your mental health. Spending countless hours indoors can lead to a plethora of mental and physical issues.
Winter can feel like it is dragging on during these later months if you spend the majority of your time inside. So, it’s essential that you consider going outside even if it is just for a short period of time. Spending time outside will promote some sort of physical activity, which will provide a boost to the brain. Also, being outside can help regulate your body’s energy. Even if you do not exercise when you are outside it will still help alleviate some mental strife. A recent study showed that just getting outside for even twenty minutes can improve mental well-being.
Being outdoors will also expose your skin to sunlight, even on the gloomiest of days. Sunlight is packed with vitamins that our skin needs to keep us feeling our best all winter long.. Sunlight also helps your brain produce serotonin, a chemical that promotes feelings of calmness, stress-relief, and energy. So, try getting outside as much as possible this winter season your brain will appreciate it.
Most associate dehydration with the summer, but the arid winter conditions can lead to dehydration as well. It is easier than you would think to suffer from dehydration in the winter. While it may not be as apparent that you are sweating during the winter, you likely still are. When the weather is cold and dry your sweat will often evaporate quickly, making it feel as though you aren’t sweating. The cold weather will also reduce the body’s thirst response. The reduced thirst response combined with the “ghost sweating” can easily lead to dehydration.
Dehydration is also bad for brain function. The brain is made up of 75% water, and when there is a change of water levels in the body it can impact your brain instantly. Which can cause a shift in mood as health experts agree that mild dehydration can negatively impact mood. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, headaches, a worsened-mood, and it can even affect your ability to focus.
Be aware of your hydration levels even if you are not suffering from symptoms you are most likely not drinking enough water. A recent study conducted found that 80% of Americans were not drinking enough water daily. Drinking more water promotes a healthier mind, and if you aren’t sure how to increase your water intake then try carrying a reusable water bottle with you, or incorporating a glass of water for every meal. Making small changes will help create a habit and keep you on a healthier track.
When cooped up inside it can be easy to fall into a mental rut. Winter can easily beat you down mentally. If you feel that you are starting to suffer from seasonal depression or added anxiety, it might be time to look into some alternative therapy options.
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a widespread mental illness that impacts millions of Americans each year. SAD typically occurs in the winter months in areas that face harsh weather. SAD can cause a whole host of issues ranging from moderate weight-gain, erectile-dysfunction, or even thoughts of suicide. If you feel that you are suffering from seasonal depression it is important that you seek help. It is often difficult to see a way out of being depressed, but there are a variety of ways to get you back on your feet. .
One of the most effective ways to combat SAD is to try light therapy. Light therapy is effective because it uses a device that mimics the daylight you would experience outside. This light will help your brain produce chemicals needed to regulate sleep and mood. Light therapy is typically the first treatment tried when suffering from SAD as it is non-invasive and rather convenient.
Adopt Healthy Sleep Practices
Your sleeping habits and overall health typically go hand in hand. If one suffers the other one usually will as well. Having a healthy sleep schedule is already difficult, but winter conditions can make your sleep habits even worse.
Sleeping well in the winter months is often difficult for a variety of reasons. The main reasons it may be more difficult to get rest in the winter often has to do with your sleep environment and your body’s internal clock.
As the weather outside gets drier and colder, so does your sleeping environment. Sleeping in sub-optimal conditions can negatively impact your sleep health. If conditions are too dry, or too cold it will be more difficult for you to enter deep sleep. To ensure that you get a full night of rest try to maintain a constant temperature and humidity level in your room at night. Investing in a humidifier and a space heater can do wonders for your sleep health this winter.
Seek Professional Help
Talking to others can be a great way to alleviate some mental stress you may be feeling. Although, having your friends and family as a support system can be helpful, it may not be enough. Talking through any issues with a counselor or an expert might be the best step for you to take when addressing your mental health.
When suffering from stress, anxiety, or depression it can often feel like you are alone. Just talking to someone else can help you work through the root of your mental health issues or help provide you with the tools to better your mental health. Consider scheduling an appointment to talk with a therapist. Therapy can also help treat a variety of mental health problems.
Therapy is a great way to treat your mind. It involves no drugs, no procedures, and just about anybody can do it. Sometimes people use therapy as a last step, but it shouldn’t be. If you begin to feel the jaws of winter clamping down on your brain look into talking with a therapist today.
Whatever route you choose to take just addressing your mental health is a huge step. Being aware and mindful of your mental health can be difficult. With all of the stigmas surrounding people with stress, anxiety, and depression it can feel embarrassing to reach out for help. Just know that you are not alone. Millions of people each day are suffering from some sort of mental strife. Tackle your problem head on this winter to make this year your best one yet!
Sam Nabil was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English, The Washington post, The Boston Globe, Fatherly magazine, Women's health magazine, Cornell university , Yahoo News, USA Today, Marriage.com