Self Care 101: Maintaining Mental Health In Winter

Seasonal changes can effect mood, outlook and motivation. That’s why keeping up with your self care routine during colder months is vital. Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind as the cold rolls in. 

Self Care 101: Maintaining Mental Health In Winter

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According to SADAG, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is estimated to affect half a million people every winter. The symptoms include, depression, anxiety, lethargy, social withdrawal, overeating, oversleeping, weight gain and difficulty concentrating, among others. Although this disorder is only diagnosed in 2 – 3% of the population, many of us experience one or more of its symptoms during the winter season.

Of course, it is important to practice self-care and mental health awareness all year round. But, keeping track of your moods and behaviour in winter can help combat symptoms of SAD and other mental health illnesses. Here are a few self-care tips and tricks for this winter:


Journaling does not always need to be feelings orientated. If your personality type is logic centered, consider making to-do lists or setting goals for yourself in your journal. Laying out your responsibilities in a practical way can curb anxiety, as your mind is able to process the information in a more logical way. Set realistic goals for yourself – you should know your limits and capabilities better than anyone else. Remember to keep focused on your progress rather than the grand outcome of your goals – taking it one day at a time is far more productive than trying to conquer it all at once.

Bullet journals are a great tool for keeping track of your eating habits, moods and to-do lists. You can find bullet journals at almost any stationery store these days. We found ours at Exclusive Books or online at

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Get Creative

How often do you find yourself wishing you had more time to do the things you love? So many of us prioritise work or family commitments over ourselves and our well-being. Make time to do something creative just for yourself. It could be anything, from cooking your favourite meal, to attending an art class or knitting yourself a colourful winter scarf. If you are more handy than artsy, start a new DIY project. But, be sure to follow through with it – there is nothing more demoralising to the spirit than an unfinished project.

If you are in serious need of DIY tools or craft inspiration, visit the mega Leroy Merlin store in Stoneridge centre. They regularly host DIY skills workshops for beginners, which cost a measly *R50 per person. So, you really have no excuse for not getting around to starting your dream project. Click here to see Leroy Merlin’s upcoming DIY workshops.

Get moving & spend time outdoors

One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to alleviate symptoms of SAD is sunlight! Get yourself outside this winter by attending a Yoga in the Park event at one of the many participating venues around the city. While you may have to face the morning chill, the fresh air and boost of natural endorphins released while exercising makes it all worth it.

If yoga isn’t your cup of tea, register yourself with ParkRun SA. These events happen every Saturday morning from 08:00 at public parks across Joburg. You can walk or run the 5km timed trail. After the race, you will receive your race time results to help monitor your weekly progress and fitness levels. Click here to register for your nearest ParkRun event.

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Food, food, food

One of the symptoms of SAD is an increased appetite for starchy foods and sugar. Studies show that these food groups may increase allergy sensitivity, inflammation and even anxiety. Curb your cravings by enjoying more legumes and pulses, slow releasing proteins and vegetables in winter. A great way to pack in the nutrients is by conjuring up a hearty pot of soup. But, steer clear of soups laden with cream. Rather use grated carrot or tomato puree to thicken up your brew. Adding natural anti-inflammatory ingredients such as ginger or tumeric may also aid the fight against seasonal depression.

Naturally, the perfect accompaniment to any soup is bread. Don’t reach for the ciabatta or french loaf – sourdough and rye bread are healthier alternatives, as they are slow releasing and have a high glycemic index. However, we know that baking your own sourdough loaf can be tedious and confusing. Woolworths stocks a 100% rye bread variety which is also wheat free. Alternatively, visit The Loaf stallholders at the Bryanston Organic & Natural Market. This family run bakery specialise in all kinds of sourdough breads.

Sweet Dreams 

Lastly, but definitely not least on the list of self-care tips is sleep. We all know how important it is to get at least seven to nine hours sleep a night. But, how many of us actually achieve this? Make your bedroom a dreamers paradise by ensuring there is enough ventilation in the room. Also try to eliminate any bright light nearby. If you struggle with seasonal allergies, your breathing may be affected during sleep, causing you to be restless. Get yourself a humidifier or air purifier. Dischem has a great range of inexpensive Elektra water steam humidifiers.

Also, check out @home’s sleep sanctuary guide for winter 2019. The guide includes tips on picking your perfect bed linen, mattress and pillow for the ultimate good rest.

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