Winter Wellness Tips from Dr. Laura Finkelstein, Director of CAPS

Winter holidays and the end of the semester tend to cultivate a mix of emotions– stress, excitement, anxiety, sadness, relief, and joy. When our environment gets more complicated, it is particularly important to attend to our basic health needs, like eating, sleeping, and connecting with others. To promote your mental well-being, these tips can also help:

  • Pick a small, self-soothing activity as your “touchstone” for difficult times. This might be reminding yourself of a happy memory, listening to a favorite song, or repeating a positive mantra.
  • Set manageable goals. Now may not be the time to pledge to start exercising an hour a day if it's not your regular practice. Instead, set a manageable goal, like taking a walk around the block or 5 minutes to do some slow, deep breathing.
  • Practice gratitude. In times of stress, reconnecting to the positives in your life can have a profound impact. Try writing down things you are grateful for from the past 24 hours, which can make that activity more concrete and emotionally meaningful.
  • Be gentle with yourself. If you notice you are being self-critical, think about how you would talk to a friend in a similar situation and direct similar statements inward.
  • Reframe stressful situations. As daily stressors arise, you might consider which of these concerns will I be worried about tomorrow, in a week, in a year? If the concern is likely to dissipate soon, see if you can set your emotional response to it accordingly.
  • Use media intentionally. I often ask clients to monitor how they feel as they look at specific outlets or photos. Then, try to minimize views that produce negative feelings—like comparing yourself to someone from high school—and maximize those that produce positive ones—like reading an entertaining article or texting with a good friend. 
  • Do an act of service. Serving others can help increase empathy and compassion by reminding us that we are connected to a bigger world. Look for ways to serve those in your community.