If you're living in the northern part of the world like me, you're in the winter season which also means a lot less daylight. For some, this means that the mood sometimes drops a few levels.. and then it's extra important to be gentle and patient with yourself.
Someone I know who struggles with winter depression reached out to me and asked for some advice or things to do when the winter depression is sneaking up on us. I thought she probably wasn't the only one going through this. I know what depression can feel like, but again depression feels different to different people, but I've written some things I know have either helped me or others. And even if you're not a sufferer, we all need some self-care now and then.
There are different things that work for different kind of people. One thing can be a stress-factor for some and a stress-reliever for others. Find what works for you. Our bodies and minds respond differently to different things..
Here are some ways you can take extra good care of yourself this winter..
- Check in with yourself. I received an advice ones, she told me that every morning before she went out of bed, she would ask herself what she had the energy to do that day. She would really check in with herself and be honest. This may take some practice, especially if you have ignored your feelings and body's needs for a long time. The less you've taken care of yourselves, the less you probably have the energy to do, but the more you practise self-care the better your body will feel. Some days don't have the energy to plan a week ahead, some days it's enough just "planning" the day in front of you. Some days it's necessary to take one day at a time. And that's o k a y .
- Eat breakfast in bed. Some days it's just too much to leave bed, but it can also make us feel even more hopeless. Why not make your own little shelter in bed. Camp there. Bring a cup of tea (the bigger the cup the better). Sometimes I feel good enough to do some "work" (like writing a blog post) in bed. Other times all I can do is read a book or watch Netflix (but let's be mindful of what we watch, sometimes what we watch make us feel even worse about ourselves). Again, it all depends on what we need. No shame in staying in bed. ;)
- Organise your Pinterest boards. Okay okay, listen.. for some this can feel like a totally unnecessary chore, if so.. then don't! BUT if you're like me and you like organising (bonus: while looking at pretty pictures) then I've found this is perfect for me! I still feel somehow productive and cleaning out old pins actually makes me feel a little better. It's always good cleaning out. On my Pinterest boards whenever I need inspiration, and then I always appreciate that I cleaned up (it's also interesting to see how your personal style & taste develops over time, I should totally write a blogpost about that some time!) and Pinterest's algorithms will know better what to show you.
- Pin some quotes. ..talking about Pinterest, when I burned out last year I dedicated a whole Pinterest board to self-care. It's called // care, love + grow yourself and I'll link to it right here. So if you're in need of some self-affirmation, good quotes or just wanna read something encouraging - check it out and pin away!
- Occupy your mind. I'm all about feeling your feelings and give yourself time to listen to what your heart is telling you aka. not pretending like you don't have feelings, BUT there are times when the mind just won't shut up. I usually explain it as "a war in my head". Now, you only know yourself if you're just avoiding your own feelings, please don't do that, eventually, they will find a way out. When all that is said, I have days when my anxiety is sky-high and my depression keeps re-playing "the-bad-memories-movie" to me. And no matter how many times I try to think about something else, it just doesn't work. It keeps screaming. Music doesn't even work for me on those days. It just brings up even more memories, weird situations or dramas that doesn't even exist. If you've struggled with your mental health, I'm sure some of this sounds familiar. On days like this, I try to distract my brain so that I drown the war going on in there. But as always, there can be good and bad ways of doing that. When I'm feeling like this I like listening to a podcast, reading, writing, declaring, watching something I enjoy, makes me laugh or fills me with inspiration.
- Listen to podcasts. When music doesn't work for me, a podcast does. Then I'm focusing on someone else's voice. Or an audiobook if you're into that. And I can either learn something new, be inspired or enjoy some good entertainment.
- Read. If you can focus enough, then read. A book (check my recommendations: "Stuff that shaped me"), a magazine, a blog, some old cards or maybe a dairy from your childhood. I've found that whenever I enter into another world my minds get occupied, just great! Or if I find a blog I really like, I keep on finding new blogposts I wanna read (I recommend Ashley Morgan Jackson and A Girl Named Leney). When all that is said, even though I love to read, sometimes I just can't. I just get too distracted all the time.. and then I forget where I left and you know.. It's better to stop and do something else for a while.
- Write. Write something. It's a good way to get feelings out of your system. Or just get down on paper all the things swirling around in your head. If it's about a person, write them a letter and burn it.. or hide it, it's up to you. I actually wrote a letter to someone. I was tired of hearing their judging comments in my mind and needed it to stop. It actually helped me - I even shared it with you. Go leave a nice comment on someone's instagram post. We can all use some love. And what a beautiful thing it is to be supportive of others. Or maybe write a song? It works for the brilliant songwriters like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. Let me make it a cliche, write your heart out.
- Watch. Your favourite YouTubers. Or a great movie (May I recommend The Shack? This is an affiliate link, but 100% my opinion)
If I need to focus on happier things I either go to my Pinterest board dedicated to The Cat Family. Cats always make me happy. There are so many photos, memes, videos.. may I recommend videos of cats getting scared of cucumbers for an instant laugh?! They're always a joy watching. Especially when you live a place where you're not allowed pets. If you like some food for your mind I also made a playlist out of my favourite bodypositive & mental health videos.
- Talk to someone. Skype a friend who lives far away. Call your parents or grandparents. Sometimes when we feel lonely or a bit sad is because we simply haven't spoken to a living human being.
- Fingerpaint. I know it sounds like something a kindergarten would do, but getting all the tools away and litereally using your body, your hand, your fingers to *smoosh* out the paint. Feel the texture. Play around. Let go of all the pressure to create something pretty. Use some colours that fit your mood and make those fingers work!
- Create a "hygge" atmosphere. It's actually gramatically incorrect, it should say "hyggelig", but since it's the noun version that's taken the world by storm, and probably the only one you recognize then I'll be a little gramatically incorrect, just for you, haha. I actually created a Pinterest board (has the fact that I'm a Pinterest freak sinked in yet? #noshame) it's called hygge by a danish girl. Yes I'm danish. I'm born in the country of hygge; Denmark. Any other danes out there? If you check out the board, you'll know it's the real deal ;) Anyways, whenever I'm feeling a bit weird or in need of some mood-boosters. I put on some of my favourite music, I light up al the candles, I mean ALL the candles, I'll find more if I need too. Make myself a hot cup of tea with milk! I might even make myself a little snack platter with whatever I find like some fruit slices, buiscuits, candy, some yoghurt with müsli.. you name it. Bring out your favourites and when you display it all on a plate it looks fancier, feels more luxurious and might even taste better (no promises). A blanket. Depending on what you need or want you can bring over a friend, a pet, a little brother, a book, a movie.. you name it, but creating a hygge-atmosphere can make it feel more homely. And a nice treat for ourselves. Sometimes just doing something for ourselves can make us feel better.
- Listen to some upbuilding music. I don't think it's a secret that music can make us feel things and we can resonate with the words. As promised in the title, I created a spotify-playlist filled with songs that bring hope, bring courage, take away fear and makes us feel less alone or makes us wanna change the world. It's called Fight for yourself-playlists. I believe the words we say and listen to effects us more than we know. I try my best to fill my playlists with good music - especially lyric wise. There's a lot of lyrics filled with destructive thinking, not honourable and disrespectful behaviour, not to mention words I'd never say out loud.
Feel free to share the playlist! (will continue to update it, so send me your suggestions!)
- Create a self-care-box. Or feel-good-box. Whatever you wanna call it. Fill it with nice things. Like letters and cards you appreciate, cute notes, maybe your favourite perfume, some good-smelling soap, photos of people that make you smile, some nostalgic things from your childhood, your favourite snack (check the expiration date first!), some dried flowers, facemasks, a good hand cream, maybe even some scrubs, things that make you smile, feel better and taken care of.. you name it. I even have a album with screenshots on my phone of every time I receive a message or nice comment I wanna remember. I call it my happy album, with lots of emojis. One can never have too many emojis.
- Paint your nails & wear some lipstick. What nonsense. You serious? Yes. I've sometimes felt a bit of shame if I used "too much" time in front of a mirror, but you know what? I've found that when I've played around with some makeup, I've actually enjoyed myself. I've used time on me. I took care of me, myself and I. Even if I were just to spend the day at home, by myself. I did it for me, not for you. Actually; painting my nails has worked as a stress-reliever for me. Such a small weird thing, but first of all; it makes me happy to look at my pretty painted nails (as long as they're not chipped), we look at them all day long and the process of creating some art on my body has made me feel better.
I've heard others talk about the power of putting on some lipstick. It's not the lipstick in itself that brings magic, but the symbol of putting on putting on some war-paint on our lips actually does something to our psyche. Believe it or not. It's a little like putting on a uniform. If you've ever worn a uniform or if you have a special dress code to work, you know that it makes a difference. Imagine a lawyer in a jumpsuit!? Or a cop in a dress? How we dress makes us look differently at ourselves and at others. It's not just about judging people, it's about what signals we send out to ourselves and each other, but let's stay on track. Putting on a little lipstick or painting your nails may not transform you, but can make a little difference in how we proceed ourselves. And on days we might not feel like dressing up (we all have those days) a little lipstick will do.
And you know what, you guessed it: I have a Pinterest board for that too. It's called // hair & beauty (I've organized them into different sections, so it's easier getting what you/I want ;) You're welcome)
If you've got anything you do that helps you when you're feeling low or some self-care tips, feel free to share with us in the comments.
I wish you the best winter. I want you to know that this is a safe place. I hope you can feel less alone when you're visiting my online home. Know that the bad days won't last forever and that even the queen has days she doesn't feel good. You're not alone in this.
If it encouraged you, please share it and pass it on to people you think could need a little extra encouragement, I mean who doesn't?
Thank you for reading. Thank you for being you!
// Line Thybo Xx
PS: if you liked the Spotify-playlist. You can pin this photo. When you click on the photo, it will send you to the Fight for yourself-playlist.