Kids are racing outside as the first snowfall hits the ground, cookies are being enjoyed with an indulgent cup of hot chocolate, and a fire is crackling as relaxing music plays through the speakers. The winter season is full of wonder and magic, but amidst all of the excitement, stress tends to creep up on you. Seasonal stress is real for millions of people, but, fortunately, there are ways to lessen the impact—so you can not only survive the season, but enjoy it.
Sunny side up
Oh, the weather outside is frightful, and … so is the decreasing amount of sunlight. The days are shorter and the nights are longer, which beckons our desire for comfort, but not without sacrificing some much-needed vitamin D. While temperatures may be dropping in some areas, going outside doesn’t have to turn into a chore. Prioritize your time outside—whether that be with early morning strolls, having a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine on the porch, or remembering to take your four-legged friend for long walks, just as you would in the spring and summer.
Many studies show that less daylight has a direct effect on our mood, with the lack of sun causing us to become more stressed, less happy, and moodier than usual. Combine that with the stress of last-minute plans, impromptu visits from family members, and one too many unhealthy sweets, and the joy of the season could be compromised. Natural foods like eggs, salmon, and cheese are high in vitamin D, and taking a supplement could also aid in maintaining healthy levels. However, nothing will help quite as much as getting those legs up and moving in the great outdoors.
What’s that smell?
Studies show that certain scents can provoke a sense of calm within us—alleviating feelings of stress and anxiety. There are endless winter candle scents: balsam and cedar for the classic Christmas tree scent, sugar cookie for the sweet tooth in all of us, or something cozier, like a fireside scent. A candle burning while you wind down is sometimes all it takes to put you in a cheerful spirit.
If candles aren’t your thing, aromatherapy may be the way to go. This holistic method of relaxation therapy is meant to aid the mind, body, and spirit by way of essential oils. Implementing aromatherapy into your life can do wonders for your stress levels, which is one of the main benefits of this health practice. There are a variety of different scents that have their own myriad of uses, but some are better for stress than others. Rosemary is shown to decrease cortisol levels, which is a hormone that is likely to increase under stressful conditions. Not only is peppermint oil a seasonal staple, but it also makes you more alert, keeping fatigue at bay. If you’re prone to headaches, especially with the buildup of pressure this time of year can sometimes bring, peppermint is also known to suppress oncoming head pain. You hear about the benefits of chamomile tea, but don’t forget about the essential oil, which relieves the same ailments. Its properties are shown to decrease anxiety, irritability, and headaches, so pour yourself a cup of this calming blend while letting your essential oil diffuser work its magic, too.
Candles and aromatherapy are two ways to have your home smelling great—and you feeling your best.
The merriest of them all
Overthinking how much effort you’re putting into gifts, decor, food, outfits, and entertaining can be overwhelming any time of year, but during the winter season, this can be especially stressful. Expectations are high, but normal life doesn’t slow down. There are still jobs to get to, kids to take care of, and dinner to be made. Not to mention, you don’t want to be the one who falls short. In the age of social media, where everyone else’s colossal efforts are put on display, it can be hard to not compete with other family members, friends, and even neighbors.
One way to avoid the competitive nature of the season is to take a social media hiatus. Whether you call it a cleanse or a detox, taking a break from your favorite platforms for a few weeks can give you a clearer head, devoid of constant notifications and comparisons. Stepping away from social media for some time is shown to improve sleep—as 71 percent of Americans are shown to snooze next to their phones. You may think your nightly scroll through Instagram or Twitter is harmless, but the light your phone emits at such a late hour can restrict how much sleep you’re getting. And we all know the one thing that’s necessary during this time of year is plenty of rest.
No more FOMO and a restful eight-hour slumber are just some of the benefits to shying away from social media in December. But if you’d rather keep your online accounts (after all, the inspiration is aplenty), don’t let yourself get wrapped up in the comparisons and competition. Maintain a realistic perspective, and keep your mental health merrier than ever.
The season doesn’t have to be a time drowning in stress and worry; rather, it can be a month steeped in quality time with loved ones, enjoying good food around the table, and giving back to those in need. Implementing these tips will help keep your mind, body, and spirit at ease, so you can enjoy all the joy the winter season has to offer.