Break Free of the Winter Slump
We all face this. The start of the winter season is met with nostalgia. As we reminisce about the days of summer we adjust our minds to the inevitability of winter and remain optimistic at the prospect of change. As the days of winter seem to get longer and longer however, our shoulders droop, our mood deflates, we get more edgy and in just get plain sick of it. Our health routine takes a hard hit during the winter months. As we indulge in comfort foods and reduce our exercise routine ’cause “It’s just too cold out to do anything”. Well, let’s take a fresh approach to that. There are ways to combat these winter woes, it just takes a little insight and planning.
1. Adjust your activity.
Most physical activities are done outdoors. So having a temperature that’s colder than your…. does not make us want to get up and go. I hear ya! I feel the same way. So, that means we have to take extra effort in keeping our bodies active during the winter season. At this time of year, a gym membership, is truly worthwhile. We have access to numerous classes that helps to break the routine and challenges us physically. Plus, group exercise helps to lift our spirits and motivate us to go the extra mile. If groups aren’t for you there are plenty of equipments that will challenge us just the same. For those of us who relish the thought of being out on a cold crisp day getting your body warm with your favorite activity. Mine, happens to be running. I am here to say, yes, it can be done. Dress appropriately for the weather. This is not the time to go cheap on apparel. The right clothing will keep us warm while still whisking the sweat away from our body to avoid said sweat then freezing on us. If outdoors at night, taking appropriate measures to heighten your visibility is imperative. Be active with a buddy if at all possible, and if not at the very least alert someone of your running route and schedule. OK, so you are not the gym type, and the thought of you running/walking outside in the dead of winter is as appealing as eating snails. There is another option. Consider doing a winter sport-skiing, ice skating, indoor tennis and/or swimming are but a few of the winter sporting activities. Most cities have a ski club. You may access their information online. Same for tennis. Heated indoor swimming pools are available at selected fitness centers and YMCAs. By the way swimming in the winter is not as crazy as it sounds. It can truly be invigorating.
2. Seek out fresh produce.
Watch out for carbs and comfort food cravings during the winter season. There is something about the winter that makes those creamy, heavy foods seem extra appealing. As long as we are aware of that, we can take measures to mitigate those cravings. First of all I am not one who advocates deprivation. However, we have to be careful that we are feeding our body what it truly needs and not just what our minds are telling us it needs. So, with that being said. Stock up on the fresh fruits and veggies. Maintain your 5-6 servings each day. By giving your body all the nutrients it needs, this will automatically decrease your cravings for the unhealthy stuff. If you still have an urge for an oh so decadent indulgence even after you’ve eaten your veggies, then hey, go for it. Disclaimer: “Go for it” does not give you permission to eat an entire cake or pint of ice cream. Instead eat one portion of your “you make me happy meal”. Then wait. Give yourself time for the food to digest and the craving to pass.
3. Buddy up.
There’s no better motivator for action than accountability. Team up with a buddy for the winter. Share your goals and how you plan to achieve them. Keep each other accountable. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T goals. These goals are specifc, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound.
4. Get together with friends.
Resist the urge to stack up on your redox of binge watch netflix. Do not allow the weather to talk you out of going out. Engage socially. Maintain a social routine. So, go out to the movies. Host parties and get togethers. Go salsa dancing. Commit to the event by volunteering to help if possible. That will make it more difficult to back out when you know others are depending on you.
5. Get out of bed.
Bears aren’t the only ones that hibernate in the winter. We, humans do our own retreat on a daily basis. The dead of winter can reduce our daylight hours each day by up to six hours (1). Leaving some of us with a precious nine hours of daylight. As our brains associate nighttime with bedtime. We will notice a gradual tendency to sleep more during the winter months. Rather than increasing our energy, however, this will further drag us down into an even deeper winter blues. Get out of bed. Maintain your routine circadian rhythm as you would any other time of the year. Rather than going to bed as soon as it gets dark out, stick to your regular bedtime hour. Rather than waking up when it is light out, set the alarm to awaken once you have achieved your designated time of rest.
6. Stay Motivated.
This is the time to surround yourself with all things uplifting- friends, music, books etc. Wake up to your favorite song. Use the winter to read that inspiring novel you’ve been putting off reading. Reach out to your fun, outgoing friends. Drawing from the energy of others is nothing to be ashamed of. By doing so we ourselves become will bring some of that positive energy to our own surroundings. Much to the delight of our family, friends and co-workers. It was Maya Angelou that advise us to “Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud”. Let’s soak up and then spread the love.
1. University of Nebraska. Department of Astronomy Education. http://astro.unl.edu/classaction/animations/coordsmotion/daylighthoursexplorer.html