When the days get shorter, we can often feel more tired and sluggish. The post-holiday blues set in after New Years, and it seems like a long stretch before our next vacation — but that doesn’t mean we’re doomed to feel like the walking dead! Here are some ways you can boost your energy and lighten your mood this winter:
Start a new hobby. Staying occupied physically and mentally will help you avoid getting stuck on the couch during the cooler months. Take advantage of the cold and head to the mountains for winter sports like skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing. Try out a local yoga or Pilates class for a combined physical and mental challenge. Want something you can do at home? Start a puzzle or pick up a new book at the store — challenge yourself!
Eat a variety of foods. When the weather gets cooler, we tend to eat heartier meals — that’s how evolution has taught us to survive. But we can’t rely on our cold-weather cravings for sweets and starches. Be sure to eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can, giving your body the nutrients it needs to keep moving. Check out local farmer’s markets for colorful, in-season produce and vitamin-D rich foods. This will keep your energy levels up no matter the season.
Don’t hibernate. Sunlight and socialization are key during these dark months. Our body clocks are responsive to sunlight, so even sitting next to a window can brighten your spirits. Staying in contact with your friends and family also relieves built-up stress and anxiety that you might be harboring during lengthy stays at home. Even if it’s just a quick Skype call, make sure to talk to your friends and loved ones and try not to isolate yourself.
Cultivate coziness. There’s no shame in pampering yourself every now and then. Whether that’s taking a soothing bath, lighting a pleasant-smelling candle or picking up that book that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand, your mental health will thank you! Nourishing your body and feeding your soul raises your dopamine and serotonin levels — or your “feel-good” hormones — which improves your mood and demeanor.
Make spring plans. There is light at the end of the tunnel! Looking forward to brighter days is a must during the winter months. Start making plans for a spring break vacation or brainstorm outdoor volunteer opportunities that your family can participate in.
This article first appeared in the February 2020 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.