33 self-care ideas to boost your mental and physical health this winter

Self-care is particularly important during the winter when the shorter, darker days can take their toll on our mental and physical health. While there can be a lot to enjoy about the changing seasons – such as snuggling down under a fluffy blanket with a good book, putting your Christmas tree up, and enjoying some hearty comfort food – we’re also more likely to catch coughs and colds, and to suffer a low mood due feelings of isolation, and a lack of daylight. This coupled with Christmas-related stress, and concerns about the pandemic, mean that it’s even more important that we carve out some time for self-care over the coming months.

It can sometimes feel difficult to put ourselves first, treat ourselves, or to show ourselves love – but doing so, can allow us to be the best version of ourselves, both mentally and physically. Practicing self-care can also help us to foster and maintain a positive relationship with ourselves, which – at a time when we’re spending more time with ourselves than ever before – has never been more relevant.

If you’re in need of a boost this winter, or some ideas to help you make the most of the colder days, then here are 33 different ways you can be kind to yourself over the next few months, and beyond.

33 self-care ideas to boost your mental and physical health this winter

1. Start a journal – even if you only write in it for a few minutes, once or twice a week. This is a great way to process and offload any strong emotions, check in with yourself, and reflect on different events. Have a read of our article; The power of journaling as a life habit, to find out how to get started.

2. Treat yourself to a new pair of cosy pajamas or warm socks. Few things are more comforting in winter than keeping yourself all warm and cosy whilst at home. M&S do a great range of pajamas, cosy socks, and winter warmers for both men and women.

3. Light a scented candle. Not only do candles make a charming and relaxing addition to any home, but you can also find them in almost any scent, size or colour. Check out the huge range of candles available on Amazon.

4. Enjoy a mulled wine or cider. Nothing marks the start of the festive season more than a delicious glass of mulled wine or cider! If you’ve never had a go at making your own, then why not give it a go this year? Not only can you get the flavour exactly how you like it, but your home will also be filled with Christmassy smells like cinnamon, citrus, and cloves. For mulled wine, you could try our very own recipe, or for mulled cider, check out this recipe from BBC Good Food.

5. Get some exercise. No matter what time of year it is, exercise is great for boosting our mental and physical wellbeing. If you’re in need of some winter fitness motivation or inspiration, then have a read of our article 11 fitness motivation ideas for winter.

6. Decorate your home with seasonal colours and accessories. Perhaps you could purchase some new cushions or throws in deep, rich winter colours, get some winter flowering plants, or put up some fairy lights. When we’re spending more time indoors, these little touches can help us feel more positive about the space we’re in – plus decorating can be fun!

7. Stay hydrated. It can be much more difficult to remember to keep our fluids topped up during the winter, because we aren’t losing as much fluid through sweat (and because a nice cold glass of water is generally much more appealing on a summer’s day). But we still need to drink between 6 and 8 glasses of fluid each day. Check out these tips from Net Doctor on how to stay hydrated during the winter.

8. Create a winter reading list. The colder months make for the perfect time of year to hunker down, and catch up on some reading – and a good book can offer you escapism, food for thought, and a chance to relax and unwind. Our article; 17 books for your winter reading list will hopefully get you inspired!

9. Invest in a good moisturiser. Many of us will experience dry skin during the chillier months of the year, so keeping your skin as hydrated as possible is important. Superdrug has a wide selection of moisturisers to choose from, or you could consider making your own from natural ingredients, using this guide from Fresh Skin.

10. Get a birdfeeder and watch wildlife. If you’re looking for a peaceful way to spend a few moments or a few hours, then you could consider birdwatching. Birds are everywhere if you really look for them – in gardens, parks and out your window. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, then you might want to try adding a bird feeder or bird bath to attract even more wildlife.

11. Create a vision board. Winter marks the end of the year, and the start of a new one, which is a great time to start thinking about your goals for the year ahead. A vision board is a great tool for helping you to visualise and realise your goals. It also acts as a daily reminder of what you’re aiming for. Find out how to create one using our detailed guide.

12. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. This is a great way to spend a few hours if you’re looking to keep your mind occupied, but relaxed at the same time. If you’re up for a real challenge, then why not select a puzzle with 2000+ pieces?

13. Take a nap. It’s not uncommon to feel more tired during the colder months because the days are shorter, we’re using more energy to stay warm, and we’re also more prone to illness. Having an afternoon nap for 20 minutes can be a great way to top up your energy levels. This expert guide from The Guardian will tell you more.

14. Practice Hygge. Pronounced ‘hoo-ga’, hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word for creating a warm, cosy atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life, with good people. A hygge lifestyle includes things like avoiding multitasking (which could cause stress), wearing comfortable clothing, and enjoying simple pleasures like going for a walk, or taking care of your houseplants. To find out more, have a read of this article from Country Living.

15. Connect with loved ones. December and January are months when lots of people spend time with loved ones, and catch up with old friends. Although we might not be able to do this in the ways that we usually would this year, it’s still important to stay connected in the ways that we can. If you can’t see friends and family in person, then you could consider organising a video call.

16. Sort out your winter clothes and declutter your wardrobe. Life can feel so much easier when you have a well-organised wardrobe, and can easily find what you need. If yours is still full of summer clothes, then consider storing these away until next year, so you have easier access to your winter woollies. You could also declutter while you’re at it.

17. Turn on/light your fireplace, or watch a fireplace video.  There are few things more inviting than a crackling fireplace when it’s freezing outside – so if you’ve got one, then try to make the most of snuggling up in front of it this season. If you don’t have a fireplace, then you can still put on your winter warmers, wrap up in a blanket, and be mesmerized by one of these fireplace videos here.

18. Go for a walk with a warm drink in hand. We often resist going out for a walk in the winter months because of the cold. But a wintery walk can be thoroughly enjoyable if we embrace it. Make sure you wrap up warm, then grab some earphones, and a warm drink in a flask, and head out for a relaxing walk.

19. Do something you enjoyed as a child. We all love a bit of nostalgia from time to time, and taking a trip down memory lane can help you to reconnect with yourself and revisit fond memories. Perhaps there’s a particular cake you enjoyed making with your parents while you were growing up – or maybe you used to love hula hooping, but haven’t tried it in years. If so, why not give it a go?

20. Learn a new skill. This is a great way to step outside of your comfort zone, discover new opportunities, and gain a sense of achievement. There are also plenty of ways you can learn new skills without leaving the comfort of your home. Check out our article; 12 new skills that you can learn from home and how to get started.

21. Try some new hearty winter recipes. A new season brings a new opportunity to try some new recipes that will boost your energy levels and keep you warm. Our article; 8 winter nutrition ideas to help boost your health, will hopefully offer you a few ideas!

22. Fill your home with festive smells. Christmas doesn’t have an exact smell, but if it did it would probably consist of smells like nutmeg, citrus and cinnamon. One way to fill your home with these glorious smells (other than by making mulled wine, or cider!) is to make some stovetop potpourri. One Lovely Life will show you how to do this, here.

23. Spend a day doing nothing. Sometimes we just need a day to switch off, relax and zone out – with no real plans on the cards. If you lead a busy lifestyle then there’s something really satisfying about choosing a day when you can wake up when you want, and do what you want when you feel like it throughout the day. This is a great way to recharge your batteries, have some much needed headspace, and focus exclusively on your own needs.

24. Make some hot chocolate. Many of us love hot chocolate year round, but there’s something extra special about it during the winter. There are also plenty of takes on the classic version that you could try – including kahlua, peppermint and white chocolate, and pumpkin spice. Check out these 30 indulgent hot chocolate recipes over on the Country Living website.

25. Listen to an audiobook. These are great to listen to while out on a walk, in the car, in the bath, or before you go to bed. They’re great for helping you to keep your mind focussed on the present moment, and helping you to relax. To find out what others are listening to at the moment, have a look at these ‘Top Audiobook Downloads’ on Amazon.

26. Do some colouring. Adult colouring has become increasingly popular over the years because it offers the opportunity to work with lots of bright colours, do something simple yet cheerful with a clear start and end point, and to keep your mind focussed on the present moment. You can download adult colouring pages for free over on the Pop Sugar website.

27. Wrap up warm, and count the stars. Short winter days make for ample opportunities to put your warmest clothes on, and head outside to do a spot of stargazing. Not only will you get some fresh air, but you’ll also get some time to reflect or to clear your mind if you do it alone – or to bond with family or friends if you choose to invite others. If you want to know what to look for, then have a read of this page from the National Trust.

28. Unplug from all electronic devices. We could all do with a break from technology every now and then – especially with the news headlines being dominated by so much negativity recently. If you can, try to spend a few hours or a day every now and then away from your smartphone and computer! Use it as an opportunity to reconnect with nature, pamper yourself, or read a good book.

29. Take a long bath. If you’re lucky enough to have a choice between having a bath or a shower, then you might find that you usually have a shower – because it’s much quicker. But during the winter, it can be nice to make some time to take a long hot bubble bath, which you can relax in with a hot chocolate or glass of wine, and a good book. It can do wonders for both mind and body!

30. Expose yourself to as much light as possible. When the days are shorter, it’s important to make the most of daylight hours as much as possible, by getting out for a walk – or maybe a run, or a cycle. Exposing ourselves to as much natural light as possible, will help to keep our vitamin D levels topped up. Vitamin D is important for things like bone and oral health, and for keeping our mood boosted. Check out our article on vitamin D to find out more.

31. Bake some treats. Baking is good for mind, body and soul because it allows us to express our creativity, develop some new skills, and enjoy a tasty treat at the end. From warm, gooey banana bread, to decadent fudge brownies, through to gingerbread fudge, there are plenty of ways you can delight your palate with some home baking!

32. Have a movie marathon. If ever there was the ideal time for a move marathon, then this is the season for it! When you’ve had a long day, or a long week, it can be incredibly therapeutic to wrap up in a warm blanket, pour yourself a drink and enjoy a few of your favourite movies! Your movie night could have a theme – Christmas, romantic comedies, crime, drama – or you could just make it your mission to tick off a few of the movies you’ve had on your watchlist for a while. If you’re in need of some inspiration, have a look at this list of The Top 100 Greatest Films of All Time, from the British Film Institute (BFI).

33. Hang out with your pet. Our pets love us unconditionally, and will generally always be up for hanging out – whether that’s while having a cuddle, going for a walk, playing fetch, or doing some training. Whenever we’re having an off day, spending time with our pets can make us feel better, so planning to spend more time with them can only be a good thing – for them too! If you don’t currently own a pet, but would like to read more about the benefits, check out our article, here

A final thought…

Self-care can mean different things to different people – but we all need it, whatever form it takes. Hopefully this article has given you a few ideas for ways that you can be kind to yourself this winter, and give your mental and physical health a boost. While there are many things that we can’t control at the moment, how we choose to look at ourselves is something that we can – and the more steps we take to do so, the stronger in mind and body we will be!

Do you have any additional self-care tips that you’d like to share with others? Which tips in this list do you find particularly useful when practicing self-care? Join the conversation on the community forum, or leave a comment below.

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