5 Ways to Boost Your Mental Health When Snowed In
As January comes to an end, and the cool weather of February ominously looms in the air, keeping tabs on your mental health is a must. While snow can temporarily be a welcome change to the mundane grey of the winter season, getting snowed in can take a toll on your mental health. Even those who do not overtly struggle with mental health, can benefit from a proactive approach. Below we offer 5 ways to be proactive about your mental health when getting snowed in.
1. Keep a Consistent Sleep Routine.
Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule is especially crucial in the winter. Sleeping too much can induce feelings of sadness and depression while sleeping too little can evoke similar feelings. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
In addition to getting the right amount of sleep, practicing good sleep hygiene is important as well. Powering down electronics 30 minutes before bedtime, keeping the bedroom dark and cool, and exercising regularly are all helpful ways to improve sleep quality.
2. Spend More Time Reading, Less on Electronics.
According to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Reading books stimulates your thinking, enables you to think creatively, improves concentration, and increases vocabulary and knowledge.” If you’re snowed in and it’s too cold to venture outside for some exercise, opting to stay in and cozy up with a book and some tea is a great way to provide your mind with mental immune support.
Some of our favorite authors right now are Brené Brown, Margaret Atwood, and Morgan Harper Nichols. If you’re looking for a new read, check out Harper Nichols’ new book, All Along You Were Blooming, which features relatable poetry as well as bright, creative graphics sure to boost any winter blues. Excessive use of technology has been linked to increased symptoms and cases of mental illness, so reading is an effective alternative to spending a snow day on your electronic device.
3. Create, Even If It Isn’t Perfect.
Creating art has been linked to increased feelings of relaxation. One of the reasons art is effective in fending off mental illness, specifically during the winter, is because it allows people to focus on expressing their inner world rather than the circumstances of their outer world (such as weather conditions.)
All forms of art have shown mental health benefits, so whether you love to write, paint, draw, or sculpt, all are great ways to destress. Also good news: the product of your creativity doesn’t matter as much as the process of creating does. So if you don’t think your final product is perfect, you’ll still reap the benefits of your creativity.
4. Volunteer: Either in Person or Online.
If you’re able, helping a neighbor with something like clearing snow from their driveway can be a great way to boost your mental health. NAMI explains, “Helping other people can improve your self-esteem and make you feel better about yourself, since you are taking time and energy to have a positive impact on someone else.”
If you aren’t able to help someone in person, there are a number of great volunteer opportunities available online. One of our favorites is Crisis Text Line. Crisis Text Line volunteers undergo 30 hours of training before committing to serve 4 hours a week texting with those in crisis. The best part about this gig? It can be done from any secure computer. Volunteer in your PJ’s, volunteer lounging on the couch, or volunteer with a cup of delicious hot chocolate nearby. This is a positive way to spend a snow day that will benefit both you and the texter. If you’re interested in volunteering, check out this link: crisistextline.org/volunteer.
5. Get Outside.
Take advantage of this unique season and all it has to offer- including the snow. Grab your kids and build a snowman, find a hill and go sledding, or create snow slushies. Being outside will expose you to sunlight, increasing your levels of Vitamin D. Vitamin D aids in the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that evokes feelings of happiness in the brain. To make it simple: the more sunlight, the better.