Is there anything worse than the second half of February?
The glitter and hopefulness of New Year’s has worn off, the romance of Valentine’s Day is behind you, and all you have to look forward to is weeks of dreary, cold weather. Your skin is dry, your hair is staticky, and it’s been an entire week since you saw any real sunlight.
It can be tempting to give up this time of year. To embrace the Netflix-bingeing, weight-gaining, sweatpants-wearing hibernation that seems so tempting. But odds are, if you do that, you’ll feel even worse in the long run.
So instead of giving up as winter slouches towards its finale, do exactly the opposite. Treat yourself. Pamper yourself. Embrace self-care as an essential part of winter survival. You’ll feel healthier, happier, and more ready to welcome spring when it (finally) arrives.
1. Schedule some downtime.
Instead of trying to be the busiest person you know, give yourself permission to take time off. Put it in your calendar if necessary: from 7 pm to 10 pm on Monday night, I will not answer my phone, check my email, or do anything except relax.
Scheduling downtime may seem like an unnecessary luxury, but the truth is, you absolutely need it. Not only will it give you time to unwind and recharge, the break will give your creative mind time to kick in. You might end up with the solution to a problem that’s been bugging you for months, or a great idea you can bring to your boss the next morning.
2. Pamper yourself.
After the travel and expense of the holidays, it can feel wrong to spend money on yourself. But not only do you deserve a little pampering, this time of year, you downright need it.
Set aside an hour each week to do something that makes you feel good. Whether that’s splurging on a massage, buying a Groupon for a B&B getaway, or simply treating yourself to a relaxing bubble bath is up to you. The important thing is that it serve no other purpose than to make you feel special and cared for. Because you are, and you should be.
3. Get your beauty sleep.
Most doctors recommend that you aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to keep your brain recharged and your body healthy. But the average American gets only about 6.5 hours. Even worse, about 25% of Canadians say they never sleep well, with another 20% saying that they lie awake worrying.
Getting enough sleep does everything from improving your emotional health to keeping your skin looking younger and firmer. So don’t skimp! Commit to getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Take your tv and computer out of the bedroom, slip into something comfortable, and get cozy. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.
4. Practice empathy.
How much of the day do you spend annoyed with the people around you? Your husband who left his breakfast dishes in the sink. The driver who cut you off. The co-worker who insists on writing her emails in all caps. All that anger does nothing to improve the situation; in fact, it probably just makes you stressed out and grumpy.
Instead, when little annoyances pop up throughout the day, try reminding yourself, “This person is trying their best right now, just like I am.” By practicing empathy for those who are struggling today, you’ll let go of a lot of stress (and hopefully build up some good karma for those days when you’re best doesn’t look to great, either).
5. Spend time with friends who make you laugh.
When was the last time you set aside time for your favorite people?
In winter, it can be easy to go into full-on hermit mode and not leave your apartment for a whole weekend (or longer, if you work from home). And while layering up and heading out may not seem too appealing, a little socialization can go a long way to improving your mood. So schedule some time this week to get together with friends who make you laugh.
(Or, if you really don’t want to brave the cold, invite them over to your place. It still counts.)
6. Compliment yourself, then compliment someone else.
Your hair is dry and frizzy. Your skin’s a mess.You’re wearing so many layers you feel like a marshmallow. You’re grumpy, you’re tired, and on top of it all, you can’t stop whining.
When you’re cold and miserable, it’s easy to fixate on the things that you think are wrong with you. But all that does it make you feel worse. Instead of focusing on the negatives, take time each day to compliment yourself -- your poise, your style, your friendly attitude. Then pass on the good vibe and compliment someone else. It will leave you both feeling more upbeat and valued.
7. Eat something good for your body.
When trying to get cozy at the end of the day includes mainlining junk food, the instant gratification of sugar and salt is followed by bloating, sluggishness, bad skin, and pesky extra pounds. None of which are going to make you feel your best.
So take care of your body and eat something healthy. Drink more water. Try out a new vegetable (celeriac, anyone?) Cook at home instead of buying takeout. Your body and your mood will thank you.
8. Eat something good for your soul.
Don’t overdo it on the healthy eating and cut out everything special. No, you don’t need dessert after every meal, but a slice of spicy cake or a mug of frothy hot chocolate can go a long way towards keeping your spirits up. Some food is good for your body, but chocolate is good for your soul.
9. Buy (and wear) the pretty lingerie, just for you.
How many layers do you have on right now?
When sub-zero temperatures for you to pile on jeans over leggings over long underwear, feeling like a frumpy old lady is sure to follow. The best way to feel attractive, in spite of your three sweaters, is to make sure you have on a sexy bottom layer.
Today, treat yourself to some pretty new lingerie and wear it under all the wool. Even if no one else sees it, you’ll know you’ve got a fun little secret, and it will make you feel instantly more confident and beautiful.
10. Get outside and look for some sun.
Sure, it can be tempting to stay inside when the wind chill is producing near-arctic conditions. But you need to stretch your legs and, more importantly, get some sunlight.
Not only is sunshine the best source of health-boosting vitamin D, just a few minutes of direct sunlight will help improve your mood and reduce your stress. Just try standing in a spot of sun after a string of gloomy, cloudy days. You won’t be able to stop smiling.
11. Spend some time cuddling.
Cuddling is pretty much the most comfortable wonder-drug out there. It can lower your stress, increase your sense of well-being, improve your blood pressure, boost your memory, and reduce feelings of social anxiety. (And you thought it was just a good way to stay warm.)
So grab your sweetheart and start snuggling. And if you’re rocking the single life, no worries. You can get in on the action with a friend, baby nephew, sister, cat, puppy… just about anything and anyone who is snuggle-able will do. All that matter is that you get those feel-good hormones flowing.
12. Check yourself out when you walk by a mirror.
Sure, you probably glance into car windows to make sure your hair isn’t going crazy, or pull out your phone to see if there’s something in your teeth. But when was the last time you stopped in front of a mirror just to say, “Damn, I look good”?
Positive affirmations have a way of working themselves into your subconscious. The more you appreciate yourself, the more positive you will feel about the way you look. So next time you’re hopping out of the shower, take a moment to give yourself the once-over and tell yourself you look beautiful. Because, trust us, you do.
13. Wear an outfit that you feel good in.
Do you dress to match your mood? Well, this winter, try dressing to match the mood you want to have.
Even -- especially -- if you wake up feeling tired and cranky and useless, pull out your favorite outfit. Whatever makes you feel like some powerful combination of Beyonce, Natalie Dormer, and Michelle Obama all rolled into one. Spend some timing putting on makeup. Do something with your hair other than your usual ponytail.
No matter how you’re feeling or how your day goes, at least you’ll know you look awesome. And one less thing to worry about will always make you feel better.
14. Say “I love you” to someone, but only after you say it to yourself first.
We’ve all got people we love. Partners, spouses, best friends, new flames, brothers, mothers, aunts, grandfathers… The next time you talk to one of these people, make a point of telling them, “I love you” before the conversation ends.
But first, make it a rule that before you can tell someone you love them, you have to say it to yourself. Because you should be your number one priority. And a little love goes a long way in this world, especially when it’s for you.
Do you know someone who’s feeling stressed or mopey this winter?
Send her this post and encourage her to spend some time caring for herself instead of worrying about everyone else!
(Or, send her an idea for a little something pretty… because every woman needs some glamour in her life!)