It’s that time of year again. The days are shorter and colder, the nights are longer and darker. The lack of sunlight may cause the all-too common winter blues and can even lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which affects up to 6% of the US population. It’s especially important to know the signs of seasonal affective disorder or chronic depression, which includes: reduced interest in activities you enjoy, irritability, lack of motivation, lack of focus, low mood, loss of appetite, and any noticeable weight gain or weight loss. Here are nine tips to help keep your mental health in check this winter:
Meditation is super important for black women, since we face multiple systems of oppression including racism, sexism, colorism and even featurism. Meditating gives you a chance to escape the pressures of everyday living, and break ruminative, depressive thinking. A study from the University of California found that mindfulness mediation can help decrease rumination and remove unhealthy, dysfunctional self-beliefs.
Ditch Social Media
Research from the University of Pittsburgh found a link between a person’s risk for depression and how much time they spend on social media. This means spending too much time on social media could possibly be putting your mental health at risk. This news should come as no surprise, since social media networks like Facebook and Instagram are naturally quite isolating. We’ve all had a moment of weakness and compared our lives to the picture-perfect, filtered images and come up short. The truth is the media only tells half of the story—few people are as willing to share the losses and disappointments in their life.
Put Effort Into Your Appearance
On those cold winter days, putting together a stylish outfit or figuring out a cute new up-do may be the last thing on your mind. It may also be the best thing for you. Make sure not to slack on your hair routine, moisturizing is particularly important at this time of year. Even if you’re not into fashion, maintaining your personal hygiene is important for your well-being.
Get Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D keeps your immune system strong and regulates cell growth, so too little of it can negatively affect your mood. Thankfully, there are multiple sources of vitamin D including the sun, vitamin D supplements, fatty fish and dairy products. So make sure to spend at least half an hour outside each day (especially between the hours of 12-2) or talk to your doctor about adjusting your diet and taking some supplements.
Stay Active (Even When It's Cold)
These days you can exercise without even leaving your house! There are plenty of online workout tutorials on Youtube, where you can focus on cardio, toning, or just do some dancing to get your heart pumping.
Don’t Skimp on Self-Care
Take advantage of the fact that winter is one of the most serene, tranquil seasons, and take time to indulge in restful or recreational activities. With school in session, we’re finally back to a regular routine and rhythm, so don’t be afraid to schedule in some time for watching that new television show, knitting that cozy blanket, listening to your favorite album, or drinking some hot cocoa. Moreso, taking days to relax and do absolutely nothing can be extremely rewarding. You deserve it!
Eating healthily is always a priority, but especially during the winter months. Fast food and Twinkies won’t cut it during the months when the days are shorter and the nights longer. In particular, you may want to eat a specific foods that contains omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish and beef) which can improve low moods and stave off chronic depression.
Make an Effort To Socialize
It may be hard to pull on those boots, wear that ugly, puffy jacket and get out of the house, but people are not meant to go long without socializing. Not only can socializing improve your mental health and mood, there is also increasing evidence that an active social life may lower your risk of dementia and lengthen your lifespan.
Get Enough Sleep
The best thing you can do for your body is to get enough sleep. Sleeping for more than seven hours a night, reduces your chance of heart attack, diabetes, and obesity, and it can also improve your sexual life and reduce chronic pain. Fatigue is linked to certain mood disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and depression. It also affects your ability to think clearly and can reduce your motivation to do activities that you enjoy.
“While some have described her as overly opinionated, Grace much prefers the terms headstrong and passionate. She is a voracious reader, a dog-lover and a self-professed pop culture junkie. Her other hobbies include watching sappy romantic comedies, consuming too many strawberry-filled doughnuts and people-watching. Grace currently attends university, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law.”