Self-care is particularly important during the winter when the shorter, darker days can take their toll on our mental and physical health.
There can be a lot to enjoy about the changing seasons – for example, snuggling down under a fluffy blanket with a good book, or enjoying some hearty comfort food. But we’re also more likely to catch coughs and colds, and to suffer a low mood due to feelings of isolation and a lack of daylight.
While it can sometimes feel difficult to put ourselves first, treat ourselves, or show ourselves love – doing so can help us to be the best version of ourselves, both mentally and physically.
So if you’re in need of a boost this winter, or are after ideas to help you make the most of the colder days, here are 33 different ways to 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, journaling 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 pyjamas or warm socks. Few things are more comforting in winter than snuggling up and keeping warm at home.
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. Mulled wine and cider are delicious drinks to be enjoyed throughout winter – not just at Christmas time!
If you’ve never had a go at making your own mulled wine or cider, why not give it a go this year? Not only can you get the flavour exactly how you like it, but your home will be filled with scents of 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.
6. Decorate your home with seasonal colours and accessories. Perhaps you could purchase some new cushions or throws in deep, rich winter colours. You might also want to consider getting some winter flowering plants or putting up 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 in summer).
But we still need to drink between six and eight glasses of fluid each day. Check out our article, 11 tips for staying hydrated and why it’s important, for inspiration.
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.
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.
If you’re unsure what kind of moisturiser to go for, have a read of our article; 10 of the best moisturisers for mature skin.
10. Get a birdfeeder and watch wildlife. If you’re looking for a peaceful way to spend a few moments (or hours) in the day, 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, you might want to try adding a bird feeder or bird bath to attract even more wildlife. Check out our article, 11 ways to build a wilflife-friendly garden, if you’d like some more ideas.
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.
Creating 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. You can find out how to create a vision board in our detailed guide.
12. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to spend a few hours if you’re looking to keep your mind occupied, but relaxed at the same time. There are many surprising benefits of doing jigsaw puzzles, which you can read about in our article; 8 health benefits of doing jigsaw puzzles.
If you’re up for a real challenge, why not select a puzzle with 2000+ pieces? Or if you’d prefer to play online, have a read of our article; 11 free online puzzles and games to tease your brain.
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. You’ll find plenty of advice on how to improve your sleep quality in the sleep and fatigue section of our website.
14. Practise 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.
Connecting with our loved ones is important for our wellbeing, and even if you can’t see friends and family in person, you might like to organise a video call instead.
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, consider storing these away until later in the 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, try to make the most of snuggling up in front of it this winter season.
If you don’t have a fireplace, you can still put on your winter warmers, wrap up in a blanket, and be mesmerised 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. You might also like to have a read of our article; 10 rewarding activities to do while walking.
19. Do something that 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 today?
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. For more ideas, visit the learning section of our website.
21. Try some new hearty winter recipes. A new season brings a new opportunity to try some new recipes that’ll boost your energy levels and keep you warm.
We have plenty of recipe ideas in the food and drink section of our website, including 8 winter nutrition ideas to help boost your health.
22. Fill your home with seasonal smells. Winter 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, there’s something particularly satisfying about choosing a day to do whatever you fancy. 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, white chocolate, and pumpkin spice.
Check out these 30 indulgent hot chocolate recipes on the Country Living website to learn something new today.
25. Listen to an audiobook. Audiobooks 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 relax and keep your mind focused on the present moment.
For ideas of what to listen to, have a read of our article; 14 of the most popular audiobooks.
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 keep your mind focused.
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.
28. Unplug from all electronic devices. We could all do with a break from technology every now and then.
If you can, it’s worth spending 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, 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 and relax with a good book and a hot chocolate or glass of wine. The downtime can do wonders for the 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 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 boosting our mood.
Check out our article on vitamin D to find out more.
31. Bake some treats. Baking is good for the mind, body, and soul because it allows us to express our creativity, develop some new skills, and enjoy a tasty treat at the end.
32. Have a movie marathon. If ever there was the ideal time for a movie marathon, winter’s the season for it! When you’ve had a long day or 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.If you’re stuck for ideas on what to watch, hopefully you’ll find some inspiration in our articles, 18 must-see movies and 16 of the best feel-good films to curl up with.
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’d like to read more about the benefits of owning a pet, have a read of our article here
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 in life that we can’t control, we can choose to look at ourselves – 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 from this list do you find particularly useful when practising self-care? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.