5 Mental Health Tips for Surviving Michigan’s Winter Season

5 Mental Health Tips for Surviving Michigan’s Winter Season

It feels like Old since we saw the sun in southwest Michigan.

Of course, I can’t find it now, but I saw a social media post from a local weather forecaster that says it’s been at least 14 days since we’ve seen the sun in southwest Michigan. I don’t care how mentally “strong” you are. Being under cloud cover for so long affects both your mind and your body.

The good news? The sun will ultimately Come back even if it’s just peeking through the clouds.

Until then, if you’re struggling with your mental health, it would be perfectly understandable and reasonable. Maybe you slept more. Maybe you felt hopeless. Maybe you felt depressed. From my own experience, the disappearance of the sun behind the clouds is only the last hurdle to overcome. And please let this be a reminder of that you’re not alone.

If you’re looking for ways to maintain or support your sanity during Michigan’s cold and often cloudy months, here are at least 5 tips:

Before we begin, I want to say that these tips feel generic and you may have seen them before. But they work. Even if they’re annoying.

1. Get outside and exercise

Runner tying sport shoes


I knows. Everyone says that. But it really helps. Even if you avoid the outdoors due to snowfall or low temperatures, finding a way to get your body moving will help your mental health. I personally commit to getting at least 20 minutes of exercise daily (which is recommended by my therapist). Sometimes it’s yoga. Sometimes it’s just a walk.

Yes, it’s annoying. Yes it works.

Would you like to explore the local nature reserves? Here are at least 7 that you can visit all year round. Be prepared with heavy hiking boots or snowshoes if you come in winter:

7 Wilderness Areas in West Michigan to Visit Year-Round

2. Stay connected with people

Young woman using smartphone for video call


That’s easier said than done.

As adults, our lives are very busy. And when you live far from your friends, it can be difficult to connect. But we live in the age of Facetime, Zoom and other video chat apps. Use them and reach out to your friends or family who miss you. Even a 10-minute conversation can remind you that you are loved and supported.

3. Maintain appointments for general health

Doctor holding heart

Alex Raths

Again, I’m speaking from personal experience, but when you’re having a hard time getting out of bed, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep appointments like an annual check-up, a dentist appointment, and beyond. But, future you will thank you for meeting these deadlines.

Also, your doctor may have some recommendations to help you get through the winter.

Speaking of…

4. Try light therapy

According to the Mayo Clinic, a light box could help with seasonal affective disorder. However, they recommended talking to your doctor about it first. When buying a light box that helps with depression, the Mayo Clinic also advises that the box should emit as little UV light as possible while still providing 10,000 lux of light.

Learn more below:

5. Cognitive behavioral therapy

Woman writes in notepad at wooden table


CBT may sound complicated. But in reality, it involves a few simple tasks to help your mental health.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of treatment that helps people identify thought patterns that negatively impact thoughts or behavior, and then change those patterns. Would it be better to go through this with a therapist? Probably. But since there are people who can’t afford therapy, there are a few things you can try:

  • write diary. Putting all your thoughts on paper can be a useful way to reformulate or understand them better
  • relaxation or stress reduction techniques. This includes things like deep breathing, meditation, and taking a moment to relax all the muscles in your body.

Again, I know these tips might get repeated, but I’ve found that taking simple, small steps to support my own mental health proves really successful in the long run.

Visit lifespan.org for even more tips to help your mental health get through the winter.

If you are able to do this, I strongly encourage you to find a therapist who can help you with minor mental health issues as well. It’s like a tune up. Your car needs one. Your body needs one. Your mind needs one too.

*If you are having trouble and need immediate help, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988.*

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