There are a lot of changes we make in anticipation of winter. We pull out the coats and gloves, drive more cautiously, drive with snow tires, and savor what little daylight we get. However, while many us take the time to prepare for the colder months, there might be some things you’re forgetting.
Being prepared for winter wellness is a unique challenge — arguably the most challenging, compared to the other seasons. It’s cold, dark, and snowy, and it’s easy to let your mental, spiritual, and physical health decline. To be fair, it’s pretty hard to stay motivated when all you want to do is snuggle up next to the heater with a mug of hot tea or coffee.
Luckily, there are some simple tricks worth trying in order to keep your wellness in tip-top shape this winter.
Fighting SAD With Fitness
It’s fair to admit that getting to the gym can be a difficult task no matter what season. However, it’s especially hard to find motivation when the cold sets in and you’d rather stay on the couch, bundled up and binging Netflix shows. Still, exercise is essential to a healthier life and overall wellness.
Remember when Elle Woods iconically explained that: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t”? While you might not be on trial for the murder of your husband, many of us do deal with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and exercise has been shown to help against SAD symptoms thanks to those endorphins.
The problem in winter is, given the combination of cold, snow, and lack of daylight hours, exercise is likely the last thing on your to-do list. However, it’s important to get outside, get your heart pumping, and your body moving. In lieu of a gym membership, these easy exercises can help get the physical activity your body needs:
- Ask a friend or neighbor if you can take their dog for a quick walk. Exercise and dogs? It’s a win-win.
- On particularly harsh winter days, it’s worth having access to some inexpensive indoor equipment like flexibility bands and free weights — they don’t take up too much space and can be used in any room.
- A yoga mat and some YouTube videos are also a great option on those extremely cold days.
- Invite your spouse, friend, or even co-worker to join you on walks or jogs around your neighborhood. You’ll not only reap the benefits of exercising, but get a good dose of vitamin D and enjoy some social time (another factor that can combat SAD).
Whatever you decide, fostering a mind-body connection through exercise can really help with those depression symptoms and hitting those wellness goals. Also, be sure to take the right precautions to avoid slipping and dress appropriately!
Essential Oils: Worth the Hype?
The hype behind essential oils can seem over the top at times — but there is some basis behind their popularity. If you haven’t tried them for yourself yet, they’re worth giving a shot this winter. Essentials oils have a variety of uses, but during winter they’re a great option to help uplift your mood, relax you at night, and even give you that much-needed boost of energy you might seriously be missing.
There are also several ways to use essentials oils, from roller ball applicators to home and office diffusers. Different scents and oils also have different benefits and can address various needs. Granted, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the essential oil options (especially these days), but with the right essential oil crash course, you’re sure to find the perfect concoction to help with those winter blues. If anything, you can always use them to remind yourself of warmer days still to come.
Get Inspired Through Cooking
Unless you’re into winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, it can be hard enjoying your usual hobbies come winter. This makes it even easier to slip into a boring rut which can drain you mentally and spiritually.
With that being said, cooking is a fantastic outlet which can keep you both inspired and well-fed no matter what time of year. Of course, you might feel as though you lack that je ne sais quoi when it comes to your cooking skills, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying your time in the kitchen. Learning which spices go with what meat is a great start to creating a hearty winter meal. Try a few of these combinations recommended by some spice experts:
- Beef: basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cayenne, garlic, oregano, and rosemary
- Fish: sesame seed, tarragon, celery seed, chives, dill, and lemon zest
- Lamb: basil, cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, garlic, marjoram, and mint
- Poultry: cilantro, curry powder, garlic, mace, marjoram, tarragon, and thyme
- Pork: allspice, caraway, cloves, coriander, fennel, ginger, and juniper berries
- Veal: black pepper, ginger, lemon, oregano, paprika, parsley, saffron, and sage
- Eggs: basil, chives, green or red pepper, onion, paprika, and parsley
Cooking your own meals can also ensure you’re getting those essentials vitamins and nutrients that you might otherwise lack during winter. Plus, a delicious tasting meal never hurt anybody.
Cultivate Your Zen Skills
The unique stillness and quiet that winter has truly makes it the perfect time to try out meditation. Meditation might seem intimidating at first, and quite frankly, your first few attempts might feel a bit awkward. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there is no right way to meditate — find what works best for your body, mind, and spirit. There are plenty of different methods to choose from too. A snapshot of various meditation methods include:
- Mindfulness meditation: encourages a focus on staying in the present by combining observation, concentration, and awareness of your thoughts — without engaging with them.
- Spiritual meditation: involves reflecting on the silence around you and can help you seek a deeper connection with your God or Universe (much like prayer).
- Focused meditation: helps stimulate and focus your five senses.
- Transcendental meditation: is the most popular form of meditation and focuses more on the spiritual self than other forms of meditation. It involves repeating a mantra while sitting still and breathing slowly in order to transcend above your current state of being.
Whether you attend classes or follow along to videos at home, take a few moments throughout the week to experience a reconnection with your body and mind. Winter can be tough at times, but take it as an opportunity to recenter yourself so you’re ready to start anew come springtime.
The colder months are infamous for their negative impacts on our moods, hobbies, and general day-to-day tasks. However, it’s still within our power to tend to our wellness in winter. Furthermore, enjoying the beauty of winter can come more easily when you feel happier, more motivated, and more connected to yourself and others. Findings ways to take care of ourselves doesn’t have to be complicated — it’s all about balance. Good luck!
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