Managing your mental health during winter

As we transition through fall, we have cooler temps, changing leaves, and shorter days.  While we all seem to enjoy the temps and leaves, the shorter days leave many of us out of sorts: lower energy level, low mood, perhaps irritable.  What to do when our Colorado sun shines, but for fewer hours a day?  Preserve your mental health with these tips:

  • Prioritize outside time! Look at your schedule and sort out what must be done during daylight hours, what can be done in the dark, and save time in your schedule for daily outside time.  If need be, grab a Sharpie and circle time each day to get outside.
    • Yes, you can go outside in the cold! Bundle up. But get out there! You can still walk, run, bike, hike, walk the dog, and toss a ball around.  Please, go outside.
  • Monitor your mood and energy level. Maybe the shorter days don’t bother you. If so, you are lucky!  Otherwise, jot down some notes about how you are feeling, and see if there is a trend.  If you see a pattern, please celebrate and expand the good parts of your day, get things done during the good parts, and minimize the stress and pressure during the less awesome parts of your day.
  • Guess, what? You can still socialize in winter!  You can plan time to get together with your friends, make phone calls, text and videochat.  Try it!  Darkness doesn’t mean less time to socialize – it might mean more!  Or more a need to socialize!
  • The research says that exercising outside will be more effective (mood and stress wise) than indoor exercise, so try to get outside. Some days that will not be possible, so head to the gym.  Maybe try a new class at the gym, or meet a buddy there.
  • Eat well. Healthy eating is part of a healthy lifestyle.  It can be easy to eat less well in the dark months, but you can make the right choices for yourself, particularly if you are monitoring your choices.
  • Get the right amount of sleep. We aren’t bears; we don’t hibernate.  Get the right amount of quality sleep, then get a move on!

See you outside, preserving your mental health.  Ahem.