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10 ways to manage stress this winter

December 6th, 2022

With shorter periods of daylight and cold weather, winter can make living with narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia, and related health issues even more challenging. This is why getting outside when the weather permits, drinking plenty of water, and finding ways to get extra Vitamin D can help reduce stress and balance your energy levels. We’ve put together a list of our favorite winter stress management tips to help you through the winter season! 

  1. Drink plenty of water. Most people drink less water in the winter but staying properly hydrated can make a huge difference when it comes to mood and energy levels. Keeping a reusable water bottle near you serves as a reminder to stay on top of your water intake. Refills are free and many office buildings and gyms have water-bottle filling stations. Try to start the day with a big glass of water and balance your coffee and tea intake throughout the day with plenty of H20!

  2. Light therapy.  Getting outside or sitting by a bright, sunny window is one of the better ways to expose yourself to Bright Light Therapy (BLT) and to feel more alert. But on days when it’s too cold to get outside, or you’re simply unmotivated, having a light therapy lamp at your desk or near you is a good alternative and can have similar mood-boosting benefits to actual sunshine. 

  3. Journal and/or keep a daily gratitude list. Journaling can be an excellent way to “offload” stressful or anxious thoughts. Also, keeping a gratitude journal can be an effective way to reframe your thoughts. If you’re new to journaling, pick a time of the day that works best for you and try to journal for 10 minutes every day or at least a few times a week. For gratitude journaling, simply write down 3-5 things you have appreciation for every day. This will motivate you to start looking for things to be grateful for on a daily basis. 

  4. Eat foods rich in Vitamin D. Salmon, egg yolks, and mushrooms all contain a decent amount of Vitamin D, as well as cow’s milk. Unfortunately for vegans, most foods naturally containing Vitamin D come from animal products or fish. Ask your doctor about additional supplements. 

  5. Go snowshoeing or sledding. These are both fun, affordable ways to get exercise while soaking up the sun! Just make sure to wear SPF (even if it’s overcast) and warm clothes. 

  6. Walk, walk, walk. In the winter, we’re less likely to get as many steps in during the day due to fewer daylight hours and colder temperatures. Finding ways to walk more can help balance moods and energy levels. Park further away from the entrance of the grocery store, take the stairs at your office or school, walk during your lunch break, etc. Just watch out for icy spots and take precautions! 

  7. Yoga and mindfulness. In addition to serving as a low-impact form of exercise, yoga can be used  to manage stress, improve posture and balance, and practice being more mindful and present. There are plenty of free mobile apps that offer short yoga videos. You can also watch this video from our 2021 Virtual Mini-Conference that focuses on stress-reducing yoga poses. 

  8. Make time for friends. It can be easy to hunker down and become a total hermit in the winter, especially when it’s warm and cozy and you have a growing list of unwatched Netflix shows! But going on a walk or having coffee with a friend can lift your spirits and give you a needed boost of dopamine. It takes a little bit of effort, but it’s worth it. Just make sure it’s a friend who knows you have narcolepsy and will understand if you need to cut the visit short to take a nap.

  9. Dance it out. Okay, you may feel silly but hear us out. Dancing to music you enjoy is a fun way to get some exercise, laugh at yourself, and appreciate your body and the way it moves. YouTube and TikTok are great places to start if you want to learn a simple dance routine. Or simply turn on your favorite song, close the blinds, and dance to your heart’s content. 
  10. Join a support group. Living with narcolepsy (and supporting a person with narcolepsy) can feel isolating and overwhelming. Connecting with others who have similar experiences can lessen the burden of living with a chronic sleep disorder. Narcolepsy Network offers two virtual support groups every Thursday. Click here to register. 


Editor’s Note:

This blog post is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not to be construed as medical or legal advice. If you have questions, please consult your physician or attorney. 

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Date Created: December 6th, 2022
Last Updated: December 6th, 2022