No matter where you live, getting through the winter takes a special set of self-care skills.
While it’s true that not everyone has to deal with literally feet of accumulated snow and sub-zero temperatures, it’s equally true that almost everyone must deal with drier air and shorter days.
For some people, the effects of either of these factors – and often both – can be dramatic, and even traumatic.
Here are some of the best winter self-care tips I have, gleaned from the experience of both my friends, and myself.
General Winter Self-Care
- Dress appropriately. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but living in Southern California, I see lots of young women, dressed in their Ugg boots and long sleeved flannel shirts – and short shorts! They often stand, shivering, because their legs are bare. Don’t be that woman! Dress for the weather, and you’ll be much more comfortable. And your skin will thank you.
- Warm up your car in the mornings. If it’s at all chilly, be sure to start your car a few minutes before you need to leave. This will not only be more comfortable for you, but it will be better for the health of your car.
- Put together a cold weather kit if you live someplace with cold temperatures. Include a few granola bars, a blanket, and a flashlight. If you tend to wear high heels, include a pair of tennis shoes, in case you need to walk in the cold for some reason. If you live somewhere that has real winter weather, you might throw a bag of kitty litter in the trunk of your car. Kitty litter can give your tires a surface that they can get some traction on.
Health & Beauty
- My friend, Jen, rubs coconut oil into her hands, face, and hair. This is a great tip – for the people for whom it works! Be aware that for some people, coconut oil is actually drying rather than moisturizing. If you’re not sure how your skin reacts to straight coconut oil, try it on a small area first.
- Be sure to use lip balm regularly. And consider purchasing a lip scrub, too. In the winter, our lips often get chapped and dry. Exfoliating your lips regularly can keep them smooth and kissable.
- And be sure to exfoliate the rest of your body, too! Exfoliation removes the dry, dead, skin cells that can make our skin look dull.
- Increased dryness in the air needs increased moisturizing. Consider using a heavier lotion or moisturizer than you use in the summer. Slather your hands and feet and then cover them with gloves and socks before you go to bed. This will help keep them from getting too dry and chapped.
- Drink more water! We don’t just need to moisturize from the outside. The best way to improve the outside of your body – your skin – is to keep it hydrated from the inside.
- Don’t forget sunscreen. Even though the sun is not shining from high in the sky, it can still do damage to your skin.
- Gargle weekly. I love this one. My friend, Kathy, suggested this on my Facebook page. She says that she has fewer colds in the winter if she does this. (Since I’m healing from my annual sinus infection, I’ll have to try this one!)
Taking Care of Your Mood
- Recognize nature’s cycles. Winter is a naturally slower, less energetic, time. Even here in SoCal, where I live, many plants are dormant. Respect the slower pace. This is a great opportunity for increased family time and book reading!
- Seasonal Affective Disorder is real! If you think you have SAD, get evaluated by a trained professional. There are ways to help yourself. My friend, Sara, makes sure to “focus on the good pieces of each day, rather than the day as a whole.” She knows that even when the whole day is overwhelming and looks horrible, “the truth is that are always a few good pieces in the day.” She also makes sure to take time for herself by not working during her lunch break. For Sara, getting some quiet time, alone, is key to her self-care.
- You may require more sleep in the winter. If you do, try to honor that need by going to bed a little earlier, or by sleeping later. Personally, I seem to need an extra hour and a half of sleep in the winter. I don’t always get it, but the awareness that I need it gives me some insight into my moods when I'm tired and cranky.
- Spend some time outdoors each day the precipitation level allows. Not only does this give you some natural Vitamin D, but it’s a perfect way to get a little exercise.
- My friend Helen has a great nightly ritual that refreshes her and gives her renewed energy for the next day. She curls up with a good book and a cup of hot tea. She says “I do nothing else at all but reflect on my day and enjoy my story and a yummy hot drink. It’s something I do almost every night all fall and winter.” I’d add a cookie!
Nobody I know has perfect self-care every day. A lot of women don’t even know where to begin. I hope these tips serve you well and inspire you to take better care of yourself this winter. If your favorite winter self-care tip isn’t listed here, please share it with us!