It’s cold outside. Really cold. (That is, if you live in a place where winter means frigid temperatures.) For some people, this chilly, dark season can bring on the winter blues, when you’re unmotivated to go outside or do things that normally make you happy. While there’s nothing wrong with spending a day or two hibernating at home, making it a regular habit is unhealthy. Making an effort in a few simple ways can lift your spirits and help you get through these tougher winter months.
1. Maintain your exercise routine.
It’s tempting just to curl up on the couch during the winter months, but not working out can actually make you feel worse. Moving your body and staying active will keep you strong inside and out. I like doing hot yoga during the winter because it feels like a small break from the cold temperatures and makes me sweat. But even if you can’t make it to the gym or a class, make the effort by following an online workout video or at least doing some stretching at home.
2. Play outside.
Actually getting outdoors in daylight can help to improve your mood. Sunlight can help perk you up and give you some needed vitamin D. So, bundle up and take a walk around the neighborhood. Or if you live somewhere that has a lot of snow right now, try a winter activity. Invite your family or friends to go snowshoeing, cross country skiing or tubing. Organizing an outing gives you something to look forward to.
3. Create a daily routine and set attainable goals.
Use your indoor time to look inward and reflect about what you want to achieve this year. Then break it down into small attainable goals each day or week. This will give you something to work toward. Maybe you’re hoping to lose weight, so you set some realistic daily or weekly goals, like creating healthier grocery lists or doing short workouts. Or perhaps you’re aiming to start a business this year. Take some time to plan out how to make it happen: who do you need to speak with? What do you need to get started? Working on your bigger goals on a daily basis establishes routines and rituals that will help you feel good about yourself. You’ll be amazed at your progress if you stay focused and move forward.
4. Be careful of too many stimulants.
Just like we do with comfort food, it’s common to reach for our favorite, indulgent beverages when we’re feeling down. But drinking a lot of caffeinated or sugary, high-calorie alcoholic beverages can backfire and make you feel worse. Plus, consuming too much coffee or alcohol can interrupt your sleep, which, in turn, affects your mental and physical energy. Try herbal tea or hot water with lemon as a lighter, natural way to warm up after a long day.
5. Cook up a storm.
Speaking of comfort food, I know nothing sounds better during a snowy night than a piping hot pizza or big bowl of pasta, but opting for healthier, hearty dishes is the better option if you’re feeling the seasonal blues. Plan some nourishing make-ahead meals that offer up vitamins and nutrients. Make a big batch of soup, like my Lentil Soup, Cashew Cauliflower Soup, or Butternut Squash Soup, that you can freeze in individual portions. The cooking process itself can be therapeutic and lift your spirits.
6. Find your community.
Staying home can also be lonely, which doesn’t help if you’re already feeling blue. Try to make plans with others, even if you’re forcing yourself to socialize. Spending time with your family and friends can provide joy and a sense of belonging that is crucial to your well being. So, put on your warmest coat, your waterproof boots and find your friends!
Embrace winter. Soon enough it will be spring!
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.