Self Care in autumn and winter
Autumn can be a tough season. Summer is merely a distant memory of sunshine and fun at this point. The days become shorter. Darkness descends upon us. The cold weather creeps in, chilling bones and attacking the skin.
Changes in weather can have an effect on a person’s mental health. The summer can drain your energy, disrupt your sleep and decrease your appetite. Personally, my mental health is better throughout the Spring and Summer due to the sunshine and abundance of greenery. Autumn and Winter, although my favourite seasons can bring with it the Autumn and Winter blues.
Autumn and Winter blues
I have already noticed my ability to cope with the everyday stresses and strains of life has decreased. Last week was a particularly tough week and I found myself more irritable to the point I could not cope. My inner critic and negative demons were on overload and the people around me suffered because of it. I was tired, frustrated and feeling like a failure because I could not control the things
Why is self-care so important
When I look back upon the past few weeks I realised that I had not been putting my own self-care to the forefront of my life. Self-care is fundamental to a healthy mind and the ability to weather the storm of challenges that life brings you. Having partaken in an eight-week Mindfulness course as well as being taught how to deliver Mindfulness to teenagers, I am aware of the importance of practising self-care as a way of promoting a healthy mind.
Autumn can be a time when practising self-care becomes difficult. The cold, dismal weather can mean exercising or socialising is difficult; both these activities are proven strategies for improving your mental health. So how do you practice self-care in Autumn and Winter? The key is to adapt the activities that make you happy to encompass the restrictions that Autumn and Winter might bring. You can still be active and socialise; even when the nights draw in. I have created a list of all the self-care techniques I will be employing this Autumn and Winter to help beat that blues and keep my mental health on an even path
through till Spring.
My tips for practising self-care this Autumn and Winter
Tidy house, tidy mind; keep on top of the housework
Since I have discovered Mrs Hinch’s Home, I have started to realise that my mood drops when my environment is chaotic and cluttered. I have made it a goal to keep on top of the housework and reduce the amount of mess and clutter I am surrounded by. I have been employing the technique of doing a fraction of the cleaning every day, focusing on a room/task a day.
I am slowly working through the house, deep cleaning the house ready for Christmas. I have also discovered the delights of Zoflora and have been using it as a way of motivating me to clean as I am motivated by smells I like. I have been using my cleaning time to wind down at the end of the day, channelling excess energy and helping me tame my wandering mind after a hard day at work.
Why is a clean house especially important in the colder months? The answer to that is due to time; we spend more time in our houses in Autumn and Winter compared to Spring and Summer. I find that if I spend prolonged time at home and it is a mess, I tend to get cabin fever. This contributes to a decline in mood. However, if I spend prolonged amounts of time in a house that does not overwhelm me, I can cope better. The environment that surrounds us is a big trigger for mood, so do your best to make your habitat a source of pleasure, not pain.
As the temperature drops, invest in warm clothing and snuggle up with a blanket. I get cold extremely easily and it can frustrate me, so I make sure I have plenty of oversized cardigans, a large, fluffy dressing gown and a multitude of furry blankets and throws to snuggle up with.
Another way of keeping the cold away is with a delicious hot drink. My personal favourite is a caramel latte but I am also known to indulge in a decadent hot chocolate with mini marshmallows. There is something comforting about a hot chocolate after a long day; especially if it is laced with syrup or marshmallows.
If the thought of a hot chocolate makes you worry about the calories, then there are lots of sensible options out there and you can get sugar free syrup or skip the marshmallows if you want to adopt healthy habits.
Indulge in warm food
There is nothing better for me than tucking into a hearty, home-cooked meal on those cold, dark nights. Most of my food memories as a child revolve around winter comfort food; casseroles with dumplings, roast dinners, ham, carrot and lentil soup and corned beef hash being particular favourites of mine.
Although we rarely have a roast dinner in the Mrs T house, we do make the others every year without fail. Other autumn and winter favourites are chilli, curry and sausage, mash and gravy. Again, if you want to adopt healthy habits then all of these dishes can be adapted to reduce the calories. Replace standard potatoes with sweet potatoes, use lean or turkey mince in your chilli and avoid jarred sauces; cooking from scratch can be easy if you batch cook or use a slow cooker.
Take care of your skin
This is such an important step in the colder months, especially if your skin is dry and sensitive. Autumn can bring about continual changes in temperature as we go from brisk, cold wind to warm, centrally heated houses. This can mean your skin has to adapt to varying temperatures which will ultimately mean it suffers as a result.
Investing in a gentle cleanser, hydrating moisturiser and possibly a serum or facial oil will mean your skin is prepared for winter has in store. I recommend the following products; all brands are cruelty-free.
Be Barefaced facial oil
Face Theory rejuvenating moisturiser
Face Theory Super Quench
Face Theory Lavender night cream
Face Theory Vitamin C cleanser
Superdrug Vitamin E hydrating spray
Superdrug Vitamin E gentle scrub
Just because the weather is bad does not mean you can’t be active. I found myself dancing around the kitchen to Tina Turner while I cleaned the other day and it felt exhilarating. Adding extra movement to your everyday activities where possible can help with both mind and body.
I have found myself feeling sluggish and in a low mood. I sat, scrolling through my phone feeling sorry for myself. The past three days had been busy and I had not slept well.
I soon realised that wallowing would not improve my mood so I went outside and played fetch and hide and seek with the children and the dog. Thankfully the weather was dry and I had the opportunity to blow off the cobwebs and enjoy some time with the children.
Take advantage, when the weather is dry, of going on a walk with the family or just on your own. There is no need to have to visit the gym to stay active as many workouts can be found on YouTube and can be done at home. I love to do some Yoga to keep my body ticking over in autumn and winter. The idea is to do what you can, even if it is playing Just Dance with the children.
I have already discussed the importance of pampering yourself as an act of self-care. I always aim for doing one thing a week that is more luxurious than my everyday routine. This might be in the form of a face or foot mask or it could be just painting my nails.
The act of dedicating time to yourself to recharge is a vital component to living a happy and relaxed life. If you do not spend time on yourself you underestimate your own sense of self-worth. Next time you have a moment, get out your products and spend the time you deserve on yourself.
Indulge in a box set or have a film night
When you have not got the energy to be active, you can feed the soul instead. I love the moment when the kids are in bed, I can light some candles and Mr T and I can indulge in a box set or a film. We tend to like to binge watch series, so Netflix and Amazon Prime are fantastic for this. Also, having a Tivo box we can store programs up as they air on TV and watch them a couple of episodes at a time.
The majority of the time, I want something light-hearted and funny because I dislike having to concentrate too much. Things like Taskmaster and Big Bang Theory lighten my spirits. Other programs that have had me engrossed are Suits, Scorpion, American Vandal and Lucifer; I would highly recommend these shows. I recently watched a show called ‘Somewhere Between’ which is not my style of series, however, it had me gripped from the start and unable to stop watching it; if you get the chance you should check it out.
Schedule time to ‘switch off’
Our lives have become so consumed by social media, it was hard to think about how we lived without it. We spend so much of our time checking our phones that it feels like they are superglued to our hands. Being someone who grew up without mobile phones, I understand that there was a time when people did not use it and functioned perfectly fine without it.
Whenever myself and my husband sit down to play a board game, I place my phone on the other end of the room. The reason for this is so I do not get tempted to reach for my phone every time it is my husband’s turn. There have been times in my life when I have had an unhealthy relationship with social media and have noticed that I have built in times where I leave my phone alone.
I recently went out on a walk with my family and chose to leave my phone behind, despite the fact I could have got some good pictures of the children. It gave me the opportunity to be in the moment and enjoy the walk rather than constantly feel I need to check my phone. I have been trying to limit that amount of screen time I have and I have reaped the benefits by being in the moment more and enjoying the things around me.
Organise a night in with friends
Socialising is another key foundation for good mental health. As much as I enjoy my time alone, I would rather spend my time socialising with my friends and family. With Christmas just around the corner, going out can be expensive and therefore people are reluctant to arrange social events.
However, the act of socialising does not have to cost a fortune. All you need is someone’s house and something to keep you entertained.
Some of the best nights I have had with friends have been nights in. You could have a film night and grab a load of treats, you could have a dinner party or play computer/board games, just as long as you gather your friends together and spend some time with them. You will have a much better time with your friends around as opposed to spending a Friday/Saturday night by yourself.
Have you got any self-care activities that will keep the autumn and winter blues at bay? I would love to hear what you do to keep positive at such a cold and dark time of the year. Leave all your suggestions in the comments below. Likewise, if you try any of these strategies to help maintain a healthy mind, then please let me know how you get on in the comments.
Ciao for now beauties xx