Once the holidays have passed, reality hits hard when we realize that it is, indeed, winter. Here in Ohio, that means at least three (more likely four) months of cloudy, cold and wet days…how depressing. But winter doesn’t have to be a downer! I’ve put together this list of “32 Ways to Take Care of Yourself in Winter” to help you out!
Growing up in Florida, there wasn’t that much difference between seasons. Winter required a jacket at times, but the sun kept shining and our activities didn’t change much. We still went to the beach, even on Christmas day, and played outside most every day.
However, after moving to Ohio as a teenager in 1977, our family was met with the worst snow storm that had ever hit the area! Snow drifts covered our windows and without a 4-wheel drive, it was nearly impossible to get out of your driveway, much less go anywhere else.
Without the help of some sympathetic neighbors that year, we might have starved, to be honest. It was rough.
Here in Ohio, we’ve never seen a storm like that since.
But winter can still be a difficult time to ‘weather’ (pun intended) if you aren’t prepared for it and deliberate about how to spend your time!
Getting some extra “shut eye” is a wonderful way to take care of yourself this winter.
People tend to need more sleep during the winter months.
It’s no mystery why this is true. Winter and colder temperatures bring dormancy to most of nature: gardens, flowers, plants, trees and animals.
Gardens, flowers, plants, trees and animals all require rest during the cooler months. Dormancy is necessary for nature to be able to bloom and produce fruit during the warmer months.
Nothing in nature is productive all 12 months of the year! That goes for us as well.
Create an atmosphere in your bedroom that induces sleep: keep the TV out of your bedroom, make sure it’s dark and a bit on the cool side and definitely turn the ringer of your phone off at night.
Here’s permission to get under those covers and sleep in, whenever you can!
2. Stay Warm
I’m one to take winter clothing seriously.
Maybe it’s because I work outside most everyday of the year on this homestead.
This lifestyle requires warm and sturdy clothing to make it through winter feedings and stall cleanings. Over the years, I’ve built up a decent collection of long underwear, sturdy boots, work coats, hats and gloves. It’s all necessary to be able to do farm work outside.
Even when inside, it makes a lot more sense to dress in layers to stay warm, rather than to crank up the furnace!
One of the best ways to take care of yourself this winter is to invest in good quality, warm clothing that will last for years.
3. Take Care of Yourself by Eating Nourishing Foods this Winter
I don’t know about you, but I struggle to eat well during the winter months.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to eat wholesome foods, especially soups and stews that I’ve canned.
But colder temperatures make me want to bake more….bread, cookies, etc. If I’m not careful, I can put on unwanted pounds.
It’s ok to enjoy some goodies once in a while, but look for ways to include more fruits and veggies into your diet.
If you think that taking a nap is a waste of time, think again.
Many of the world’s best leaders napped.
Everyone from John F. Kennedy to Margaret Thatcher to Winston Churchill understood the benefits of napping.
Napping, especially when done after a long period of work, will energize you and help you to clarify your thinking.
5. Winter Outdoor Exercise
We all know that exercise releases dopamine in the brain, which makes us feel good.
But winter exercise does more than that.
Winter outdoor exercise can change your mood for the better, strengthen cardiovascular health (if you already have a healthy heart, check with your doctor if you aren’t sure) , build your stamina and even burn more calories in some cases.
Outdoor exercise gives you that extra boost of Vitamin D, which will keep your bones healthy and ward off many illnesses.
So bundle up and get out there!
6. Sign Up for a Class
Whether you sign up for a work-out class at your local gym or a fabric arts class or a computer class on-line, getting your mind focused on a worthy activity will go a long way to keep you sane and occupied during winter months.
7. Get a Massage to Take Care of Yourself this Winter
Massage is amazing, regardless of the season.
But during the winter months, our bodies tend to move less and become more sluggish. Massage can mimic exercise in that it can boost your metabolism and reduce inflammation.
Ask around for recommendations for good massage therapists in your area. Body work runs about $90 an hour in Ohio, so you may need to set aside funds for massage, but it’s so worth it.
8. Learn About and Use Essential Oils
I’ve been using essential oils as long as I can remember.
Long before the essential oils “bubble”, I was using Young Living oils in my home.
The benefits of essential oils were known by the ancient Egyptians and in Biblical times, they aren’t anything new. Why do you think the wise men brought Myrrh and Frankincense to the baby Jesus? Because they were used for healing!
Cheap oils don’t interest me and aren’t worth the money. If you’re going to use essential oils, use a good quality brand that’s been around a long time.
That’s why I use Young Living.
Winter time is when I do a lot of diffusing around my house. I have daughter-in-laws who have discovered the value of essential oils as well! It makes me happy to know that they are using Young Living on my grand babies!
From Thieves to Peace and Calming, essential oils can bring health and healing.
Check out Young Living for yourself!
“Getting Started with Essential Oils” Free eBook
9. Drink Herbal Tea
Another fabulous habit, regardless of the weather, is to drink herbal tea.
Personally, I drink a couple of cups of green tea everyday, just because I enjoy the taste. But the benefits of green tea go far beyond taste.
Herbal teas have so many benefits and uses, I encourage you to check out Mountain Rose Herbs. They are an affiliate because I order from them myself!
You’ll find a lot of information about herbal teas and other natural healing modalities on the Mountain Rose Herbs blog!
10. Warm Baths
Warm baths have multiple benefits like helping you to sleep, improving mental and emotional health and sooth sore muscles and joints.
Don’t forget the epsom salts and relaxing herbs!
11. Nourish Your Skin
As someone with very dry skin in the winter time, I know for a fact that our skin suffers in cold weather and needs protection.
But resist the temptation to slather up with toxin-laden lotions.
Check out my skin care bundle here, these are made from plant-derived oils and butter, plus essential oils.
Or, make your own Body Butter with this recipe!
12. Avoid Negative People
There’s nothing like a “Debbie Downer” in your life to keep you depressed, especially when winter is already compromising your mood!
I work hard to protect my serenity by surrounding myself with people who share my values and goals.
Even if someone in your life is a family member or a long-time acquaintance, you still have the right to distance yourself from people who don’t bring value to your life.
13. Limit On-Line Time and Social Media
Studies continue to show the negative effects of spending too much time on the computer and/or social media.
During the warmer months, I hardly look at my phone. That’s because I’m outside, either in the garden, the barn or opening up beehives. One of the benefits of this homesteading lifestyle is that it’s easy and natural to stay grounded in what’s “real”.
But during the winter months, it’s easy to just scroll through our phones, just because there’s nothing else to do.
How much good is it doing you?
I invite you to have at least one “unplugged” day a week and walk away from the constant distraction of media and internet.
Chances are that your mood will improve and you’ll find something else more productive to do! Grab a book or pick up the knitting needles instead!
14. Be Aware of Your Lighting
Most of us are familiar with SAD symdrome, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
It’s a real thing, believe me, as someone who grew up in the sunny climate of Florida and then moved to Ohio as a teenager!
Using full-spectrum light bulbs can go a long way to improve your mood!
15. Burn Candles
Relaxing with candlelight is a great way to take care of yourself this winter!
Since the sun goes down by 6pm, it’s the perfect time to burn candles!
Candles just make everything seem so much cozier, don’t you think? They are calming and make great way to take care of yourself!
Beeswax candles are good choice because they destroy negative ions in the air. They also burn longer and they are soot free.
Winter means it’s time to read that stack of books that I’ve been collecting!
I love nothing more than curling up with a good book to read while the snow flies outside!
Take advantage of these months to read about and research for your homestead plans! You’ll be that much more prepared when Spring rolls around!
When I was a girl, I was an avid journaler, filling up several spiral notebooks every year.
Today, I journal a bit differently.
My journals are filled with gratitude and letters of encouragement to my adult children.
What makes journaling a worthy pastime is that it takes all of the thoughts in your head, and gets them out on paper.
I find that I’m able to release a lot of feelings this way, then my brain has room for other thoughts and plans!
19. Talk to Someone
During the winter months, it can be tempting to just isolate.
Who wants to go out in the cold anyway?
But, I encourage you to force yourself into the car and go meet a friend.
Just for an hour.
It’s a good thing and it will be worth it.
Relationships are one of the best ways to take care of yourself during the wintertime.
20. Plan for Spring
It’s totally ok to plan for Spring!
Sketch out your garden, shop for seeds and plants and dream about all of the wonderful things that you’ll grow!
21. Practice Mindfulness
My dad used to tell me to “be where you’re at”.
I’ve always struggled with this, I’m thinking about a million things most of the time.
However, that’s not the path to serenity.
I encourage you to “be where you’re at”. Focus on what you’re doing and who you’re with.
22. Listen to Good Music
One of the best ways to take care of yourself during winter is to drag out those albums and play the songs that you never take the time to enjoy anymore!
Sing and dance like no one is watching!
Winter is a great time to clean out that junk drawer or maybe that mess of a spice cabinet.
Maybe it’s time to empty out that pantry and re-organize it so that you’ll be more prepared for canning season!
24. Build Natural Immunity
Manage your stress, take your vitamins, drink more water, get outside and wash your hands!
Take care of yourself this winter! You’re worth it and before you know it, Spring will be here!