Beat the winter blues

 

healthy during winter photo
Winter Sunrise photo by Ryan McGuire courtesy of imcreater.com

Hellllooooo Winter.

I spent all of last weekend huddled inside my house because of the freezing temps and some work deadlines. While I enjoyed and needed this break, after 2 days, I was ready to re-enter the world again. The only problem? Even though my brain was ready to get moving, my body was NOT having it. I felt tired and lazy in a way I haven’t felt in a long time…well actually…in a way I hadn’t felt since last winter! We all know it’s true….

It’s hard to be active and exercise during the winter.

No one wants to be out in the cold.  I learned the hard way this week that the winter wind is that much worse when you’re going 10 mph on the bike, and even more importantly, it can be downright dangerous to run or bike in icy conditions. Then there’s that whole daylight savings thing…it’s dark when many of us leave work, which puts a damper on post-work outdoor time.

But it’s not just the weather that’s holding us back. Our body’s seasonal clock and attitudes can dampen our motivation, too.

It’s easy to blame it all on the weather, but truth be told, this time of year, I also don’t really feel like getting up and moving around. Getting myself to change out of my pajamas is hard enough, let alone waking up early or making it onto my yoga mat. From what I’m reading…I’m not the only one.

 

The good news?

It’s possible to stick to your health routines and feel good, even though the only thing you want to do is lie in bed.

Here are some great tips to get you feeling like your usual self and working with your body’s needs (and the constraints of the weather), so you can have a happy and healthy winter season.

1. Just get moving

Sounds obvious, right? But as we all know, it’s harder than it looks. When I am feeling super lethargic and resistant to exercise, even though I know it will make me feel so much better, I use this tip to find the smallest actionable step I can take to get me exercising. Maybe I just lace up my sneakers, drop to the ground and do a set of pushups, or simply tell a friend I am going to an exercise class. Once you do that first step, you generate momentum to get you moving even more, and it becomes easier and easier to keep going. Your running routine get disturbed by the weather? Get creative! Go mall-walking or hit up an exercise class. The important thing is that you get yourself out of your rut and get active again.

2. Satisfy your cravings

Nooooo not for more chocolate. I’m talking about your cravings for warm, nourishing, filling foods. Your body is cold! Of course it’s not satisfied with raw fruits and vegetables. Now is the time to make yourself hearty vegetable soups, warm porridges for breakfast, and toasted sandwiches. Don’t forget to add some spice to keep the heat going. Nourish your body with these good, warm foods, so that you won’t turn to more desserts, sweets, or other unhealthier items that have a warm and filling quality, but aren’t so good for you.

3. Keep hydrated

I probably mention this tip in every post because it’s just simply so important. When you get cold, we forget to drink water, so be mindful and make sure you’re staying hydrated. This time of year, our skin and bodies dry out, so it’s that much more important to make sure you’re getting enough fluids. This is a great time to break out peppermint or lemon tea to supply warmth and vibrance on a cold winter day.

Bonus: being hydrated also helps you keep your energy up, so you feel less lethargic.

4. Find the sun

Ahh that darling sun. There’s precious few hours of sunlight during these winter months, which means it’s that much more important that you get your fix when possible. Not only does sun equal warmth, it also provides you with much needed Vitamin D, which helps protect you against seasonal colds and flu! Seeing true sunlight also helps keep your melatonin levels on track, which means a better night’s sleep when it is the proper time.

Some easy ways to get you in the sun:

  • Take a noontime walk
  • Sit in a sunny window
  • Participate in outdoor sports!

Speaking of outdoor sports…

5. Enjoy the season

Having a hard time getting outdoors? Plan an outdoor adventure with ice skating, sledding, or hiking. Despite the cold, it’s a beautiful time of year. Use these seasonal activities as an excuse to get moving, even if you can’t bring yourself to stick to your regularly scheduled exercise routine. And don’t forget hot chocolate afterwards : )

6. Get Social

It’s the holiday season! We all need our rest time between holiday parties and events, but make a point of having some quiet celebrations with close friends and family too. It can help get you out of your pajamas, without the pressure of a loud or boisterous event. Spread some thanks to those you love. It’ll make you feel good.

7. But be okay with the seasonal variation

So we started this post talking about how to beat the seasonal blues, but the truth is, there is a reason why there is a collective sigh and movement towards hibernation this time of year. According to Ayurveda, we are still in Vata season as we enter the December Holidays, so take this time as an opportunity to build grounding practices into your day, to relax, and to take it easy. The Spring will come again, and you will find your energy again as well, so enjoy this season!

 

What do you do to beat the winter blues when the cold weather hits? Share in the comments below!

 

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