Why Winter Helps My Mental Health

Why Winter Helps My Mental Health

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Most people love the warmth, sunshine, and liveliness that come with summer. Maybe it’s because of my tendency to be contrarian, but I come alive in the colder months. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great beach vacation or day spent kayaking on a lake, but I’d so much rather be sitting by a fire or even enjoying a chilly stroll around the neighborhood.

I know a lot of people are impacted by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in winter, but did you know that it can also affect people in summer too? I don’t know if my aversion to summer is SAD, but I think it’s good for everyone to keep in mind that for every person who agrees with you, there is bound to be someone who feels the opposite. If you’re someone who has trouble when the days get shorter and the temperature drops, maybe hearing what I love about winter will help you through this season.

Bundling Up

Give me allll of the layers. Bulky sweaters. Chunky scarves. Soft hats. Fuzzy socks. I love them all. It should come as no surprise that I love fall and winter fashion because of their connection with knits. As soon as it starts to cool down, I break out all of the clothing I’ve crocheted myself and it warms my heart.

But bundling up is about more than just showing off the things I’m proud of having made. I feel so comfortable in my skin in cooler weather. It absolutely has to do with my body image. If my body’s covered up, I can’t be reminded of what I don’t like about it quite as often. Out of sight, out of mind. In winter, I feel like a beautiful, wool-festooned goddess 95% of the time. In summer, I feel like a sweaty caveperson 120% of the time. Obviously, I’d like to learn how to love my body all year round, but I’m thankful that there is a time of year when I can love how I look in pretty much everything I wear. So next time you wish it were 80 degrees year-round, know that I’m internally shuddering at the thought of having chub rub 24/7, 365 days a year.

Plus, I feel like I’m taking care of myself when I put on all these layers. That satisfaction of warming up when you’re cold is a measureable reward for recognizing your needs. I don’t care how basic of a need it is, it feels so good to take care of yourself and get your body temperature back up when you’ve been outside in 17-degree weather.

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Slowing Down

The world goes quiet in winter. The birds fly away, the trees lose their rustling leaves, and people stay inside to protect themselves from the whistling wind. As a result, winter is the perfect opportunity to slow down and do some reflection. I’ve done some of my best self-building in winter. When you don’t have the sunshine calling you outside and events planned every weekend, you have ample time to be with yourself and get to know yourself better.

I understand that that is terrifying for some people. While it’s something that I naturally love to do, I also think that knowing yourself and thinking of ways to grow is important for everyone to do. In summer, I feel like time passes too quickly. Too much is going on, and before I know it, I’ve spent three months driving around, walking through parks, swimming in the ocean, and not dealing with any of my life’s challenges. In the winter, all those distractions fall away. It can be overwhelming to have nothing to bury yourself in, but it also makes enacting changes that much easier. You have more time, and perhaps fewer obstacles.

Getting Creative

If you have less going on, that means that you have more opportunities for creativity. Just the act of figuring out what to do in winter is creative. You’ve got to think outside the box because maybe you’ve spent the last three weekends at home and you’re bored of the same scenery or same activities. You’ve got cabin fever. But think of it this way: all you need to surmount cabin fever is a bit of creativity.

Plus, if you’re a person who has a creative hobby, being indoors for long periods of time may not be a problem for you anyway. If you’re a painter, a baker, a yarn crafter, or something similar, being stuck inside is a blessing in disguise. Once the weather warms up, I tend to abandon my crochet for other activities. As a result, I savor the occasions when the weather practically hands time to be creative to me.

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Next time you have to scrape ice off your car on a weekday morning or you see a snow storm in your city’s forecast, try to think of all the things that winter gives us. Enjoy holing up like a woodland animal and just enjoying some cozy time to reflect, relax, or even create.

Do you have a favorite activity that’s unique to wintertime?

4 thoughts on “Why Winter Helps My Mental Health

  1. Winter has always been hard for me, The lack of warmth and sunshine and dealing with snow and ice has always been something I’ve dreaded every year. I know it’s not right to wish away 3 months out of every year, but I struggle not too. Your perspective is eye opening and thought provoking! Perhaps winter IS meant to be a time of reflection. A time to think about where we’ve been and where we’d like to go. Much like the bleakness of winter, we have to be careful not to get caught up in what appears to be an end. There is always the hope and anticipation of renewal and rebirth on the way. Thank you for pointing out the necessity of slowing down and getting quiet. It is a gift and it should not be over looked or taken for granted!

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  2. You made a really good point about slowing down in the winter. It is a wonderful time to reflect and re-evaluate goals and to just relax at home without pressure of going out. Sometimes when it’s really hot in the summer, I feel it’s too much to be outside all day, but equally inside isn’t the best. I do love summer though, particularly as my hair stops being frizzy! Lovely post 🙂

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    1. Yes it can be hard to find the perfect balance on those warm summer days. And about your hair–that’s so funny! Mine gets MORE frizzy in the summertime! But it’s great how even little things like that can bring us joy from season to season 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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