17 Simple Winter Health Tips To Better Your Mental Health (And Seasonal Affective Disorder)

This is a horizontal drawing of a man affected by seasonal affective disorder

Winter Health Tips To Better Your Mental Health:

17 Tips To Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder:

The change of seasons from summer to fall and then onto winter months can bring sadness, anxiety and depression with it.

We have found 17 winter health tips that can be implemented right away to help you fight SAD.

Ways to stay healthy during winter:

  • Exercise often
  • Get 8 hours of sleep
  • Use a SAD light
  • Eat healthy foods
  • This is just the start!
This is a horizontal drawing of a man affected by seasonal affective disorder using winter health tips

Contents

Covid & Flu Tips

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Winter Health Tips

Having to navigate through the gloom of fall into winter has always been a struggle for me. The days get shorter, the rainy periods are longer, and the temperature drops.

These changes in the environment can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) has been around ever since changes in seasons have been occurring. Yet only in the last years have the effects been more discussed in mental health discussions.

Unfortunately, that is not the only silent adversary we must face. With the introduction of the Covid-19 pandemic, the need to stay healthy through winter and the flu season has amplified. 

For these winter wellness tips I am going to focus on the three pillars that have been a guiding light for my seasonal depression.

Mental Health


Physical Health

Healthy Eating

Here Are 17 Winter Health Tips For Your Physical And Mental Health

**Disclaimer, I am not a doctor. These are only suggestions on ways to live a healthier life so you can feel happier. Giving yourself the best chance of staying in a mentally and physically positive place this winter.

COVID And Flu Season

How to stay healthy in winter:

With the colder days and lack of sunlight, our immune system drops in the winter months.

Here are a few winter health tips to stop unwanted germs from entering your body, and fight them off faster if they do.

this is a drawing of a girl coughing

Wash your hands

Even with the memories of our moms yelling at us as kids as we go to leave the washroom, “Wash your hands Timmy!”. A recent study done by Wateraid.org found out that 4/5 people do not wash their hands after using the toilet.

This is a graphic about how many people wash thier hands
Graphic From Wateraid.org

Sanitize surroundings

With the weather turning for the worse, we will be spending more time inside. Carve out time daily to wipe down all countertops and surfaces in the parts of your house you spend the most time. And once a week, do a full clean of your place of living. 

Online doctors appointment 

A silver lining to this year is the technology advances — one of those being the ability to see a doctor online. 

Before heading in to see your physician, search “Online Doctor Appointment” to see what is available for you.

Canadian Telehealth Services 

These are free for British Columbia/ Ontario/ Alberta. In comparison, other provinces have a fee for use.

Tia. Health 

Virtual Clinics 

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder ( SAD )

How do you fight SAD?

You might notice your desire to work, exercise, be socially active and eat healthy foods drop during the fall.

What is the best treatment for seasonal affective disorder?

  • Use a SAD Lamp
  • Get 8 hours sleep
  • Eat high in natural fat foods
  • Get fresh air daily
  • Workout daily
This is a drawing of a man using a SAD light

Seasonal Affective Disorder ( SAD )

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that happens when the seasons change, usually from summer to winter. There are cases of this occurring also from winter to summer; yet, this is less common.

"Feelings of sadness, anxiety and depression are common with SAD."

Here is some more insight on seasonal affective disorder if you feel you might have it.

What are the causes of SAD?

These weather changes play a role in SAD:

  • The sun rises later (waking in darkness for months)
  • the sun sets earlier (In the PNW, you go to work and leave in the dark)
  • Colder temperatures make for more time inside (less fresh air/cabin fever)

Who is at risk of SAD?

Are you unsure if you are at risk? Sad effects females 4x more than men. However, as males are less likely to open up about their struggles, they are more likely to struggle in silence. Youth are more likely to be affected with 20-30 years olds most common.

What are 5 signs of SAD?

Here are 5 signs of SAD:

  • The feeling of no desire to get out of bed
  • Loss of energy levels in the day
  • Eating sugary foods for a quick energy boost
  • Feeling not rested after a night’s sleep
  • Feeling socially distant, not wanting to see people

9 Actionable Steps For Bettering Your Winter Health

Winter health tips:

Take a moment today and put one of these tips to use. There is no need to plan out your attack for many of these.

Go ahead and pick one that seems achievable for you right now.

Perhaps go for a walk or click the link below and buy your SAD Light today.

This is a drawing of a man dealing with seasonal depression

Keep Your Social Bubble

Keeping with the safety protocols during the COVID pandemic. Our safety bubbles can not only keep us safe from disease but can help with our winter health. 

Keep your bubble close and find new things to do together this fall. The days of having drinks in your backyard are over. But catching up for a fall walk or taking the sights of winter can help you curb the loneliness of the season. 

SAD Light

Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am familiar with the depressing effects of the lack of sunlight from short days. Add onto that 165 days of rain and 100+ more of cloud cover, and you have the trifecta for seasonal affective disorder.

This is a infographic for most depressing winters
Infographic from Smartasset.com
What time of day should I use light therapy?

There is no specific time that everyone agrees on; however, most companies and therapists suggest doing it first thing in the morning. Adding a second time in front of your lamp midday if you feel low can also positively affect your mental health.

Can you use a SAD light too much?

Even though a SAD light can seem harmless, you should consider how much you use it in one day. Most professionals agree that one time use of 20-30 minutes in the morning is enough. Too much exposure can create adverse effects.

What is the best SAD light?

Here are the 7 best SAD lights in the market 2020 for your seasonal affective disorder 

Accept that SAD is occurring

No matter how dutiful you are in taking care of your body and mind, you are only human, and life happens. Don’t get down on yourself if you can’t get through a day; these days will occur. You are not the only one fighting this battle; there are millions just like you. 

If these feelings occur for more extended periods than a day or a few weeks, then you should reach out to a professional for help. Talk to your doctor and contact a therapist for a session. They are there to help you.

8 hours of sleep

Getting a proper 8 hours of sleep is a core starting point for our health concerns, physical or mental. When you sleep for 8 hours or more without having alcohol or drugs in your system, our bodies can heal. This sleep resets and prepares our brains for the next day.

5 ways to get a better sleep tonight
  • Stop looking at your phone/computer/tv 45 minutes before lights out
  • Exercise for 60 minutes that day
  • Meditate for 5-20 minutes before bed
  • Don’t eat high carb high sugar meals before bed
  • Set goals for the day and cross them all off (feelings of achievement help settle our brains)
This is an vertical infographic showing the positives of a good sleep

Drink Water

Most of us think of summer as the time that we need to focus on staying hydrated. However, we lose much water throughout our day as we raise our body temperatures to fight off the cold. 

As well, keeping our bodies saturated helps with digestion and brain function. Two areas that when not running optimally, can be the leading areas of depression.

BONUS WINTER HEALTH TIPS: Going to see your therapist

Read one of our most recent blog posts

this is what to talk about in therapy vertical drawing

Eat Healthy foods

What you ingest has a more significant effect on your mental health than you think. When eating heavily processed, saturated fats, incomplete carb and high sugar foods, we get instant gratification. However, that lasts only a few minutes, while the next hours can leave you anxious as your body tries to digest it. 

By eating vitamin-rich dense greens, complete carbs and natural fats, we can leave our body in a happy place.

"The ability to break these foods down is easier. Unlike processed foods where the is a high percentage of "un-useable food."

It may be that happiness bump you want, but is it worth it for the crash to come right after?

Exercise

Getting 60 minutes of activity a day has proven to release endorphins in our bodies. These endorphins only happen from exerting ourselves; they positively affect our brain.

Exercising doesn’t have to be a daunting word for you. Something as small as going for a walk in nature or your neighbourhood will suffice.

I suggest you plan your daily workouts on your calendar on Sunday. That way, you won’t be able to find excuses on how you forgot to do it one day.

this is a photo of Paul Marlow running outdoors in New Balance Heat Gear

30 Minutes of Fresh Air

Even though the outdoors is the main reason for our feeling low, it can help us fight SAD. You want to stay indoors where you are warm and dry, but doing this for extended periods will affect you.

Those same effects of ‘cabin fever’ will start appearing after a while, leaving you pent up with frustration and depression. To fight this, find 30 minutes each day to step outdoors and breathe in the fresh air.

You can pair this with your daily exercises to knock two things off your to-do list.

Conclusion

Winter is a tough time for many of us, so please remember you are not alone in this.

Send me a DM anytime if you have any questions or want to chat.

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Looking to start your very first workout plan this fall?⁠⠀
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Get up and get moving, no matter what that needs to be. ⁠⠀
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Out of these 17 winter health tips, what one will you put in place into your day?

Please leave it in the comments below, and I’ll be sure to give you any advice I have in making these winter health tips stick!

This is a horizontal drawing of a man looking for winter health tips

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