Here’s How Mindfulness Can Help You Stay Happy This Winter

Staying in good spirits during the winter is difficult — especially when you’ve got to deal with icy temperatures and that dreaded 5 p.m. darkness.

With that in mind, it probably comes as no surprise that mental health struggles are common during the colder months. But if you’re reading this, you might be wondering: How do I stay positive during the wintertime?

The practice of mindfulness may just be able to help. Keep reading to find out more about how mindfulness can boost your mental health and keep you happier during the chillier times of the year.

What Is Mindfulness?

Every human has the ability to use mindfulness. Simply put, it’s the act of being completely present, observant, and nonjudgmental in your moment-by-moment experience. But with the constant rush of modern life, people often lose this innate skill.

It’s far too easy to get lost in our heads when our to-do lists feel never-ending.

Consequently, losing our touch with mindfulness can cause anxiety, fear, and depression. This is because thoughts focused on the future and the past, rather than the present, tend to stir up troubling emotions.

It’s important to note that winter comes with its own struggles — less social interaction, less time in nature, and less sunshine. And when these factors make you want to hibernate away from the world, mindfulness can be an invaluable tool in protecting and nurturing your happiness.

 

Where Can You Practice Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is best practiced through meditation, and this can be done anywhere you can sit or lay quietly.

But mindfulness can also be practiced simply by being fully absorbed in whatever it is you’re doing in this very moment — even as you read this blog post. It’s overwhelmingly simple, but the effects it can have on your mood are profound.

The cool thing about mindfulness is that you need absolutely nothing besides your mind to practice it. You can use this technique anytime, anywhere — whether you’re lying in bed for the night, reading a good book, or hanging out with your favorite people.

 

How Mindfulness Can Help You Stay Happy in the Winter

Mindfulness changes the very lens from which you see the world around you.

Think about it — if you start your day stressed out, you might see everything else that happens that day through the lens of your stress. Mindfulness brings you to the here and now. After you become present, the lens through which you see the world will shift.

This practice increases happiness in your everyday life, helping you to give more meaning to everything you do. Mindfulness may also be effective at helping reduce stress and symptoms related to anxiety disorders. And when you’re trying to figure out how to stay happy in the winter, these benefits are incredibly valuable.

“More specifically, the effects of meditation are correlated to improvements in attention, working memory, spatial abilities, and long-term memory.”
Lardone, A., et al. (2018). Mindfulness Meditation Is Related to Long-Lasting Changes in Hippocampal Functional Topology during Resting State: A Magnetoencephalography Study, Neural Plasticity

How to Practice Mindfulness

So, how can you actually practice mindfulness to receive the benefits we talked about earlier? Here are some simple ideas you can use to aid you in being in the here and now.

1. Bundle Up and Go Outside

This is first on the list for a reason — simply being in nature has remarkable mental health benefits. Yes, it can be hard to get up and go out when it’s cold outside, especially if you live in a state or country with harsh winters. Whether it’s snowy or sunny (or both), nature can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression while decreasing your stress levels.

And the change of environment — new sights, sounds, and smells — can bring your focus away from the whirlwind of your mind and into your current experience.

Even a quick walk around your neighborhood can help you practice mindfulness. (Depending on where you live, you can even try snowboarding or ice skating!)

2. Mindfully Cook Some Winter Snacks

Cook for yourself or your loved ones by following recipes for soups, stews, desserts  — you name it. You can find nearly any recipe you can imagine on the web. A bonus is that cooking is an easy activity to get immersed in.

Not only can a home-cooked meal give you a happiness boost in and of itself, but it’s an incredible way to practice mindfulness, too.

3. Be Present in Your Conversations

When you talk with friends, family, coworkers, the grocery store cashier — whoever it is, try giving them your full attention. And when you speak to them, choose your words mindfully.

Feeling connected is important, especially during the colder months. And listening intently to people around you each day can help you feel connected while making them feel heard.

4. Follow a Mindful Self-Care Routine

Mental health is a lot like physical health. Just the same as your body needs vitamins, minerals, and exercise, your mind needs certain things to be healthy, too.

There are several things you can do to help care for (and untangle) your mind while practicing mindfulness. Some ideas could be:

  • Take a warm bath with essential oils
  • Follow guided meditations
  • Journal your thoughts out
  • Consciously spend time with people you love
  • Give yourself permission to rest — you don’t always need to be busy!

5. Move Your Body

Movement and mindfulness flow together naturally. When you’re exerting energy in a workout, your mind innately drifts along with your movements — whether you’re lifting weights, stretching into a deep yoga pose, or even kickboxing.

Starting a fitness routine can be challenging, but the beginning is the hardest part. It’s important not to be too intimidated at first – different types of exercise work for different people. And once you get going, momentum builds.

There are many free follow-along fitness accounts on YouTube to help you stay active at home — whether it’s weight training, simple bodyweight exercises, or even yoga!

Check out these resources to get started:

6. Mindfulness Meditation

The best way to get better at mindfulness is to practice mindfulness meditation.

The very act of meditating allows you to notice your thoughts, feelings, and worldly sensations through a peaceful state of mind. In fact, many types of meditation could be looked at as the purest form of mindfulness.

At any rate, meditation can feel difficult to start, especially when you don’t have experience or anyone to mentor you through the process. And as a beginner, you’ll be surprised to find out just how busy your mind can be.

Luckily, there are many spectacular resources out there to help you begin your meditation journey. Some options are:

The Takeaway

When discovering how to stay happy in the winter, mindfulness is one of the best techniques to add to your self-care toolbox. This wonderful practice can reduce stress and boost your happiness as you navigate the chilly season.

Take small steps when starting your mindfulness journey. Begin by experiencing everyday activities, even ones as simple as say, doing your dishes, with a nonjudgmental, peaceful state of mind.

The results you experience may just astound you.

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