By Logan Singleton
Keeping your brain healthy and engaged throughout every month is just as important as physical health. There is an increased sense of importance when the summer sun gives way to the low lights and cooler climates of winter. This changing of the season can lead to seasonal affective disorder, a depression that is specific to winter, often resulting in a lack of energy, insomnia, and despondency. Follow these mental workouts to help supercharge your mental health so that you can enjoy the holidays.
Read A (Real) Book
Diving deep into a different world can be an effective way of reducing stress and anxiety after a long day. And while reading something is better than reading nothing, we suggest sticking with a real book. With the rise of e-books, people have wondered if the age of physical books is coming to an end. Studies show that the tactile feel of the page beneath your fingers creates a link between the material and your brain, leading to a more complete understanding of what is being read. Plus, a well-stocked bookshelf looks great in the home.
People often associate meditation with a stoic, cross-legged figure in the middle of a beautiful field. While this transcendental scene is certainly an aspiration, meditation can take place in the comfort of home, a convenience that becomes increasingly important during winter. Consider setting aside time during your morning routine to include a meditative moment, even if it’s only 15 minutes. Quieting your brain and focusing on your breathing can help reduce stress and anxiety and provides a calm, composed foundation for starting the day. If you find yourself lost or unable to get started, there are several guided meditation apps and videos that are easily accessible through your smartphone.
It seems that everyone these days is talking about the power of mindfulness. Often closely related to meditation, mindfulness is simply making an effort to only focus on the present moment. Mindful activities are endless and easily accessible to everyone, regardless of physical capabilities. These could be as easy as simply walking through the home, focusing on the different sensations beneath your feet while transitioning from a carpet to the hard floor. Tracking is another popular mindful activity that involves observing different objects in the room, considering their shape, color, and movements. Allowing yourself to escape from the rigors and neverending lists of the day can reduce stress and anxiety.
Work on a Puzzle
Whether working on a puzzle solo or with a loved one, this is a great way to exercise your brain and destress after a long day. Some research suggests that puzzling can even have long-term benefits, citing that more frequent cognitive activity has been shown to decrease the rate at which cognitive decline takes place late in life. It’s also a chance to detach from screens and practice mindfulness. Focus on how the puzzle pieces feel in your hand or the satisfying sounds of the pieces snapping together. This indoor activity is perfect for the cooler months.
Winter can be a lonely and even scary time for several people. But focusing on your mental health and using some of these mood-boosting workouts can help keep the positivity high and the happiness flowing through the doldrums.
Depression is a serious medical condition. If you are experiencing depression, you should talk to your primary care physician about treatment options. If you are in a crisis, please dial 988 to be connected with a professional at The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
- Science.org | Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind
- Mayoclinic.org | Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Neurology.org | Life-span cognitive activity, neuropathologic burden, and cognitive aging
- NCCIH.nih.gov | Meditation and Mindfulness: What You Need To Know
- RealSimple.com | 8 Science-Backed Reasons to Read a (Real) Book
- Healthline.com | 13 Brain Exercises to Help Keep You Mentally Sharp
- NCCIH.nih.gov | Jigsaw Puzzling Taps Multiple Cognitive Abilities and Is a Potential Protective Factor for Cognitive Aging