Serving the greater Cache Valley and SE Idaho Areas


Improve Your Mental Health This Winter

Jan 16, 2024 | cleaning, home maintenance

8 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health During the Logan Winter

Winter is here. The snow is coming down, the days are dark and gray, and Adrien still hasn’t returned the snow blower after he borrowed it last year. Winter can be stressful here in Logan. It can do a number on your mental health if you let it get on top of you. Fortunately, there are ways that you can deal with it. I’ve put together some tips on how to keep your mental health up when the winter blues come knocking.

Tips To Improve Mental Health

spring cleaning1. Cleaning

We’re quick to say that cleaning your air ducts is a good way to keep your air fresh and clean in your home. Of course it is, but cleaning in general does a lot of good for your overall health, physical and mental. Even just the act of cleaning itself, when done regularly, can improve your mood by setting a routine that provides comfort for your brain.

2. Build Routines

The brain likes routines. The familiar is comforting and makes us feel good. So, if you want to improve your mood during the winter months, building some daily routines can be good for a little extra hit of dopamine. I’ve found considerable success with the Ivy Lee method. It’s a simple strategy that centers on organizing your work into checklists arranged by importance and working on those items in order until they’re done. You prepare your list each evening so that you can start each day with direction and purpose. It works great for helping you get into the habit of anything you need to do.

3. Healthy Eating Habits

When people talk about comfort foods, they usually mean sugary junk food like ice cream or cookies. While a little sweet now and then isn’t bad, relying on them is a bad strategy. Sugar gives you a quick hit of energy and happy brain juice, but it doesn’t last long and it can quickly make you addicted to the high. On top of that, the long term effects of sugar consumption can be as bad for you as alcohol, if not worse.

And it’s hard to be happy when you’re not healthy. Being fat and sluggish while suffering heart and liver problems does not sound like happy living to me. If you want to really do something good for your mental health, eating healthy is a good way to do it. A diet strong in grains, fruits, and vegetables, with the proper amount of protein will help. Fish, especially salmon, is particularly good for this, as it contains strong amounts of many nutrients that are needed for brain function.

And don’t forget to add some extra vitamin D. We normally get vitamin D from sunlight, but during the winter, when the days get shorter, it becomes a lot easier to suffer from a deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is a factor in Seasonal Affective Disorder, which I guess you could say is the scientific term for winter blues. You can buy vitamin D supplements, or you can increase vitamin D rich foods in your diet.

regular exercise improves mental health4. Daily Exercise

Just as a healthy diet helps, so to does exercise. Our bodies are made to be active and the increasingly sedentary experience of modern living plays a part in the epidemic of depression people face. Being active releases endorphins, which are critical to managing mood. Even just the activity of cleaning your house can be enough to give you a hit.

That said, the best exercises will be ones that get your heart and lungs going – aerobic or cardio exercises like running, biking, swimming, and so on. These can be hard to do in the winter, what with the cold and ice and all. If you can, consider setting aside a room for daily exercises, perhaps running in place. If you can get a treadmill, this will help. If you can’t there are sports centers and gyms around Logan that you can go to. Even 15 minutes of daily exercise can do wonders for your mood, though for best results 30 is recommended.

5. Meditation

Modern living seems like it’s always on the go. We’re always in a rush to get things done, or go somewhere, do something. This kind of fast living is stressful and it’s good to take time to relax. Meditation is a great way to help with that. There are many different kinds of meditation and they have been shown to have positive benefits. These include reduced anxiety, improved ability to think, and better emotional stability. The improvement in mental health will also improve physical issues, like blood pressure and sleep problems.

You can also mix meditation with breathing exercises such as the Wim Hoff exercise. These exercises can help clear your mind of issues bothering you so you can refocus on what you can do to improve yourself. There is also some evidence that they may also help deal with physical issues, such as inflammation and other issues that it causes.

6. Get Involved in the Community

One of the biggest ways to fuel depression is to get overly focused on your own problems. That’s why many psychologists will recommend doing volunteer work in the community as a way of dealing with depression and anxiety. Help others fix their problems has the dual benefit of taking your mind off your own problems while also giving you accomplishments that other people will be grateful for. The warm-fuzzy feeling is very real and it does wonders for your mental health.

There are always opportunities for volunteer work, even here in Logan. All you have to do is go looking.

reading a book

Photo by La Miko

7. Indulge Your Curiosity

School does its best to kill of the desire to learn in children, but curiosity is a survival instinct and so our brain awards us with dopamine when we get interested in and learn new things. Whether it’s skills, facts, or just seeing new things, indulging our curiosity can help us feel better. Try reading a book on a subject that interests you. Watch a good documentary. Even just going for a drive around town and seeing new areas you’ve never been to can get your brain going. The world is full of wonder, so go and find some of it!

8. Avoid Social Media

I would put forward social media as one of the candidates for most self-destructive technology we’ve ever invented. For starters, social media has been rather predatorily designed to overload the dopamine response in the brain. What this does is cause our brain to produce so much dopamine on such a regular basis that we develop a tolerance for it. As a result, we lose our ability to feel the affects of dopamine for things that give smaller hits. This is the root of social media addiction. It makes us need social media more and more and the activities that used to give us enjoyment no longer do so.

But moreover, social media incidentally makes us very focused on ourselves. We end up basing our sense of self-worth on our follower counts and our activities are driven by what can get us the most likes or views. It also floods us with stories of other people’s best experiences, which we inevitably compare to the – let’s be honest – mostly average days of our lives, making it seem like we’re doing something wrong. And all that is before we even go into the endless cycle of negativity that comes from online trolls, doomsayers, and 24 hour news networks competing for our attention.

The best way to be happy is to disconnect yourself from it. Use it as a tool when it can do something helpful, but outside of that, steer clear.

Mental Health: Be Happy, Be Healthy

Winter is not the happiest time for everybody. It’s cold, dark, wet, and it statistically correlates to a lot of arguments with Adrien. All these things are bad for your mood, and that will negatively affect your mental health. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to counter it. These tips will help improve your overall health, both physical and mental, letting you beat back those winter blues.


Cover photo by Andrew Neel