Winter self care ideas that promote taking care of your mental health. These ideas focus on creating a cozy, relaxing environment at home.
Winter can be an incredibly difficult time for so many people, physically, mentally, and emotionally. The days are shorter, thus we feel like there is less time in a day. Plus, shorter days and colder temperatures mean that many of us don’t get enough sunlight. People tend to stay inside more, which leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Winter is often a time when people feel the saddest and most stressed. While simple self care may not cure the winter blues, it can help! These winter self care ideas are specific to the season. They focus on small, achievable self care that cares for the mind and body.
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15 Ideas for Winter Self Care
Hydrating Face Masks
While face masks may seem incredibly cliche for a self care suggestion, they are an achievable way to relax and simply be still for a few moments. The dry winter weather is so harsh on our skin, specifically exposed faces. A nice hydrating face mask ensures that you take 15 minutes to just sit. Plus, you will have glowing hydrated skin after.
One of the best purchases that I’ve made in the past 2 years is my light therapy lamp. Simply turn it on while you’re working or drinking your morning coffee. The bright light mimics natural sunlight. This helps you feel the effects of spending a half-hour outside without actually going outside. Many doctors and therapists recommend light therapy to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It has also been shown to help regulate sleep, increase energy levels and reduce anxiety. It’s an excellent winter self care idea if you find yourself feeling unmotivated and bummed during the colder seasons.
I actually bought my light therapy lamp to help with my PMDD. Several studies show that 20 minutes of light therapy in the evenings helps lessen the symptoms of PMDD. Considering that my symptoms include lack of energy, anxiety, and the inability to focus, this totally checks out. I definitely notice a difference when I use my lamp consistently. Especially on overcast days when natural sunlight is hard to come by.
*If you are struggling with seasonal depression, PMDD, or increased anxiety, be sure to talk to your doctor.*
Sometimes my brain is so full. It feels like I have a million thoughts at once. When that happens, I tend to get overwhelmed and sometimes shut down completely. I’ve found that journaling, specifically in the winter months, helps me focus and quiet the noise. And there’s no better self care than quieting your mind.
Journaling comes in many different shapes and forms. Some people practice gratitude journaling. This type of journaling has a focused goal of reflecting on the things in life you are grateful for. Gratitude journaling is typically a morning or evening ritual. There’s also goal-oriented journaling. This is a method for setting and accomplishing daily goals and manifestation. Traditional journaling is an excellent way to get all of your various thoughts on paper. It makes room in your head for other thoughts and ideas. This form of journaling is also great for creative writing or poetry. Then, there’s purge journaling. This is when your head is so full and you just need to write a bunch of random stuff down to get it out. I typically purge sporadically and at any time during the day. It’s an excellent method of stress relief.
Bundle Up and Get Outside
When it’s cold outside, it’s harder to find the motivation to bundle up and go out. But a quick walk in the winter sun does wonders for the body. Not only do you get fresh air and natural sunshine, but spending time in nature is a proven method of reducing stress. Not to mention a quick walk also gets your body moving. And exercise is another proven method of stress relief. So grab a coat and hat and get moving outside for a bit!
Reading Under Cozy Blankets
Lately, my favorite form of winter self care is just being cozy. Relaxing with a good book is an excellent way to unwind and clear your mind after a long day. While not everyone enjoys fiction, I do recommend reading a book that truly allows you to escape every once in a while. Keep a few fuzzy blankets on the couch and in the bedroom for snuggling up with a book in the evenings.
Paraffin Treatment for Hands and Feet
Winter is especially tough on our hands. Dry hands are incredibly uncomfortable. So, moisturizing and nourishing your hands, and feet, is an excellent way to practice winter self care. Paraffin treatments are a relaxing way to take a little extra care of your dry hands. They help open pores, clear away dead skin cells and moisturize the skin. The heat from the warm paraffin wax also soothes sore joints.
While many salons and spas offer paraffin treatments, there are also at-home options. Full paraffin wax systems, like the True Glow by Conair, are available for purchase. It includes a large warmer and paraffin wax. Simply melt the wax and then dip your hands and parts of your feet into the wax. Allow the wax to cool and harden. Then peel it away and reveal your softer, revitalized skin.
An Evening Cup of Tea
Nothing beats a warm cup of tea on a winter evening. It’s the perfect drink for curling up on the couch with your book. Or maybe snuggling up and watching a movie. I also love to drink tea while journaling or writing.
I used to hate tea. But after experimenting with a lot of different brands and types of tea, I finally found some that I really like. I’ve found that I prefer citrus or mint teas over floral teas. And I like to add lemon juice and honey. Or a splash of warm lemonade if I have it on hand. My favorite brand of tea is Teavana because most of its flavors are citrusy and caffeine-free.
Light a Candle
Nothing beats the ambiance of candlelight. The soft flicker of light around a room instantly creates a warm, cozy feeling. Plus, candles do produce a small level of heat. So they could take a slight chill off the air on particularly cold nights. Candles with soothing scents also create an environment that reduces stress and relaxes you for bed. So light a candle while you face mask or read for the ultimate relaxation vibes.
If you don’t like scents, unscented candles can still give you a cozy ambiance without the smells. Or sub real candles for battery-operated ones if that is more your vibe.
Watching Your Favorite Cozy Movies
Is there a movie that is quintessential winter to you? Or maybe a movie that gives you the warm fuzzies? Set aside a night to do nothing but watch that movie. Light candles, make a cup of tea and snuggle up for a relaxing night. This may seem like a silly winter self care idea. But, sometimes, self care just means intentionally hitting the pause button. It means turning off your mind for a while and truly relaxing.
When was the last time you sat and watched a movie? And I mean really watched the movie. Without distractions. A truly relaxing movie night means NO SCROLLING on your phone the entire movie. Scrolling on your phone keeps your mind working and multitasking. That’s not relaxing.
Winter means dry skin. Treat that dry skin by taking the time to exfoliate. Exfoliating clears away dead skin cells, soothes dry, rough skin, and improves circulation. Plus, exfoliation also helps the skin absorb other products, like lotions or oils. Set aside an evening for a long shower that includes full-body exfoliation.
There are several different ways to exfoliate your body. There are many exfoliating body scrubs that are used in the shower as you’re bathing. Or try an exfoliating body scrubber. These are flat silicone scrubbers that gently exfoliate the body in the shower. They are used with your typical soap or body wash. Another option is dry brushing. Dry brushes are used on the entire body prior to showering. Simply rub the brush gently over the skin before showering. It removes dead skin cells, promotes circulation and lymphatic drainage without the addition of hot water.
Dim the Lights
Another of my winter self care ideas that may seem overly simple is just dimming the lights in the evening. Use a dimmer or simply turn off overhead lights in favor of lamps. Dimming the lights signals our brains that it’s almost time for bed. This simple act allows the body and mind to slow down and relax. Dimming the lights is a great nightly ritual that promotes relaxation and better sleep hygiene. And there is no better way to take care of yourself than to sleep well.
A warm oven and delicious food create a comforting and cozy environment. If you enjoy baking and find it relaxing, then make time to do it. Bake small batches of your favorite baked goods to enjoy during the week. Scones, muffins, or biscuits are excellent examples of baked goods that also count as breakfast. You get the double benefit of baking to relax and having a yummy breakfast for a few days.
Too often baking is associated with creating huge batches of desserts that we feel like we shouldn’t be eating. But baking is a relaxing activity for so many people. Setting aside time to bake each week can be just as beneficial to your emotional and mental well-being as a book or spa day.
Winter is typically a time when people turn into hermits. They sit around their homes in the evenings because it’s too dark and cold to go out. This leads to feelings of isolation and loneliness. So rather than sitting alone, another of my winter self care ideas is to socialize. Set aside an evening each week to invite over a friend for a game night, to bake, or to watch a movie. Or chat with another friend that also turns into a winter hermit and schedule a standing hangout evening with them. Just seeing another person, outside of your family or partner, regularly helps ease the ache of loneliness during the bleak winter months.
Create a Soothing Playlist
Winter-specific self care is all about the vibe. And the vibe is warm, cozy and relaxing. Create a playlist of your favorite relaxing songs. Or, choose one of the many relaxing playlists on Spotify. Play the music softly in the background while you journal, read or simply relax. The music itself is often therapeutic. A slow, soothing song can help your body physically relax after a long day. Or even in the midst of a stressful day.
Work on a Hobby
Sometimes taking care of ourselves means physically doing something that is just for you. For the simple joy that activity brings you. That means making time for your hobbies is also self care! Instead of vegging out on the couch, or scrolling social media, work on what you love. This may be drawing, creative writing, crafting, puzzles, etc. We often convince ourselves that we don’t have time for our hobbies. Or that if the hobbies aren’t lucrative side hustles then they are a waste of time. But that is just not true. The point of a hobby is that it brings you joy. And there is always time for joy. Pull out that puzzle box, dim the lights, play some music and take care of yourself on an entirely different level.
These winter self care ideas aren’t revolutionary by any means. But that doesn’t make them any less important. Sometimes life gets distracting and we convince ourselves that we don’t have time to relax. Or that simple acts don’t count as self care. But they do. Simple things, like candles, dim lights, and tea change our mindset. Turning off our phones eliminates distractions and allows our minds to focus on singular tasks. This kind of relaxation doesn’t cost anything. And it’s integral to maintaining a healthy mental headspace.