Winter is coming. I know this for a fact, even without HBO telling me repeatedly. Winter for many of us, is the “yucky gray” season, where it seems like we want to hide away until the first warm breeze of spring awakens us. But life is too short to waste it like that.
In fact, by embracing winter, we can emerge into spring being happier and healthier than we were when the leaves started falling. Here are some tips to help you stay both physically and mentally healthy.
Winter Tips to Keep Physically and Mentally Healthy
Get Some Sun To Help Combat Winter SAD
If there is one thing you can do to help your health and mental state this winter, it would be this – get some sun. Catching a few rays will help with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Winter SAD has been known to cause oversleeping, nausea, and a tendency for overeating (especially for high amounts of carbohydrates). If SAD hits hard and causes your weight to bloat, it can affect your mental state through feelings of guilt and greater physical exertions doing your regular routine.
It doesn’t matter where you get the sunlight, whether it is outside for a brisk winter stroll or laying in front of a large bay window. The important thing is to drink in the healing rays, letting it warm your face and bask you in its glow. If you can, close your eyes and enjoy the warming sensations.
If you don’t have access to the sun, you can still get beneficial light therapy from a lightbox or other broad spectrum light sources. Light therapy has been shown to be effective for several issues that may affect us, so consider this as you fight old man winter. Just remember that, even in the winter, the sun can still be damaging through over-exposure.
Start An Exercise Routine
Have you ever watched that Rocky movie, where he goes to a cold environment to train for his next big fight? The cold air is great for exercise, and it keeps you cool from exertion while it forces your body to work harder to keep your core temperature warm. This means you could get more from an exercise in cold weather than warmer.
Not only is this the perfect time to start or increase a physical fitness regimen, but it turns the winter from the physical blahs into a growing fitness peak. You could emerge from your Winter cocoon in better shape than when it began. While your friends are scrambling to start their healthy New Years resolution, you will already be on course to making it one for the record books.
Winter Can Be A Great Time To Take Up Yoga
So you don’t want to be out in the cold weather? Instead, you might consider starting or expanding a Yoga routine. Yoga has the advantage in that you can do it in your favorite wintertime place in your home, perhaps by a cozy, warm fire. Digging into a regular Yoga routine will keep you healthy and more flexible. Being more flexible means that you will be able to move easier without pain, increasing your overall quality of life and helping to combat depression.
You can start learning Yoga online (youtube has plenty of examples to get you started) or through an app. There are even websites that already have Yoga routines designed to ease depression, and Yoga meditation beginners can do.
Take Up A Winter Sport
Maybe you will find that taking up a winter sport will help you embrace the season instead of hiding from it. Perhaps you have thought about trying snow skiing?
Well, there is absolutely no better time to try that than in the Winter. Ski places exist throughout much of the civilized world so a quick check might show one within a short drive from you. And if it’s farther than that, well, did someone say, “road trip”?
You could also check into ice skating. Many metropolitan areas offer a seasonal ice rink, so get out and try it if one is close. Year-round ice skating rinks are in operation in a lot of places, so maybe starting to take lessons before Winter is in full force will get you ready for the upcoming season as well as helping you to embrace cold weather activities. Who knows, maybe you will end up looking forward to the winter season to show off your newfound ice skating skills.
Even if you don’t want to participate in a winter sport, consider being a fan of one. Hockey is an always entertaining sport to watch in person, and it gives you a reason to get out of the house during the wintertime. You might be surprised how fun and engaging a local hockey game is to experience if you haven’t already. Perhaps Winter might end up being your “fun” season.
Take Up A New Hobby
Winter would also be a great time to take up a new hobby. Hobbies can be an excellent outlet for pent-up energy, and the process of building or making something can, in turn, make us more creative at other pursuits. There are many winter hobbies that you can do from the comfort of your home, such as painting, fine-scale modeling, or even writing on that memoir you’ve been planning to start.
Turn Winter Into Your DIY Season
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that you can’t do beautiful things to the inside. While serious renovation projects might be best tackled in warm weather, the cold months could be a great time to paint a few rooms and do some redecorating. You could even get a start on your decluttering and organizing, saving some of that spring cleaning time for enjoying the change in the weather.
Getting your environment in order during the winter months allows you to use this time to your best advantage. It also provides a general sense of order and accomplishment that in the wintertime could do wonders for your own mental well-being. By capturing a can-do spirit, it should help to bolster your confidence and show old man winter who is boss after all. You go!
Don’t Hesitate To Seek Professional Help
While these tips would work for many people who dread the winter season, sometimes there can be issues that require a more serious approach. In those cases, it might be best to seek out expert help.
After all, we all sometimes need a helping hand. The important thing is to recognize when we might be in need of one. There is no need to suffer through another winter season alone if you think you are in this category.
As you can see, there are many ways to make the winter season into your season. With a little planning and effort (along with some great soup to keep you warm), you can emerge from the cold season in better shape than you went into it, with a new body and a healthy outlook for the future.
While your friends are all complaining about getting in shape for summer, you can already be there, even maybe with a new skill or two you picked along the way. Who knows, perhaps secretly you will already be looking forward to next winter.
When he is not writing on his wife’s blog or has his head buried in software code, Greg Chaffins can be found celebrating nerdy things on his own website, NerdBeach.
My friend recently got a machine that stimulates sunlight int he winter to help with depression. it seemed really cool!
Talk about timing.I am reading this while it’s dreary and snowing outside! I do get SAD in the winter months and have a happy light to help me get rid of the blues.
I am in pain all the time lately. I hope to get this squared away so that I can focus on health and fitness!
These are great tips for sure. I know I personally get lazy in the winter especially and don’t want to go outside much because I am not too keen on cold weather, so these are helpful.
Thanks for the tips! I didn’t know about SAD but I agree that light therapy helps me fight old man winter. I’ve been using blue light for a few years now and it does help.
I can definitely see yoga being a good option for winter. I feel like the cold really makes my muscles tighten up.
Funny that you mention an exercise routine. We were just out today shopping for an elliptical machine!
Awesome tips! It’s crazy how sunshine can really help your mood! I will even go tanning once in awhile during he winter just for that feel good feeling the vitamin D gives you
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