Winter ushers in the holidays and yuletide greetings. Thoughts of Winter conjure up images of white landscapes and frosted trees. Hallmark and made-for-TV-movies provide us with happy people in warm sweaters, delighting in the shorter, colder days. However, it’s not long before Winter forges on ahead leaving the festive celebrations and joyous tidings far behind. While we may be briefly distracted by the holiday fun/chaos, our bodies are all too aware of the toil this season is taking on us. Soon, life feels like ‘tis the season to be miserable.
Our body operates on what is known as a circadian rhythm. This is our body’s natural 24-hour cycle. Our natural rhythm is primarily dictated by the light and dark. When the seasons change, we often find ourselves getting up while it is still dark outside. As such, the natural light is not available to kick start our brain, body, and hormones as needed to make us feel awake.
Similarly, as Winter darkness closes in earlier in the evening, we may feel tired and sluggish at a time that we used to feel alert. In addition, the cold means that we are less likely to be active or to spend time outside, which wreaks havoc on our vitamin D production. Vitamin D is referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” and contributes to a healthy immune system and healthy functioning. A deficiency in Vitamin D can lead to back pain, fatigue, and difficulty with clear thinking, osteoporosis, and insulin resistance. So, the question becomes, how do we maintain our mental and physical health when the elements are against us?
- If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Get outside! Yes, it’s cold. Yes, it’s mostly cloudy. But, that is what gloves, hats, and Winter apparel is for. You don’t need to stay outside all day to reap the benefits. So, try to get outside once in awhile, even for just a short time.
Weight loss often finds its way into many New Year’s resolutions. While setting intensive exercise and weight-loss goals is helpful, even exercising for just 20 minutes can release the chemicals responsible for boosting our mood and lifting our spirits.
- Beef up the vitamin intake.
While the sun is the best option for our much-needed Vitamin D, the reality is that outside time in the Winter is limited. In addition, there are other nutrients that affect our mood and we can all benefit from supplements of vitamin B, vitamin D, and omega 3s.
- Hit the To-Do list.
It is so easy to feel stir crazy when we are stuck inside during the Winter months. Starting a new project and creating a sense of purpose keeps us moving and feeling productive when all we want to do is hit the couch. Cleaning out those closets, organizing the garage, and making improvements
to the home are just a few things we can take on when we can’t take it outside.
- Phone a friend.
Embrace the opportunity to spend time with the positive people in your life. Find new activities to do together, plan a movie night, start a book club, meet for coffee and laugh until your sides hurt.
We cannot avoid Winter but we can avoid being a slave to the negative effects of this dreary season. Try hard to avoid excessive sleep, binging on comfort foods, and staying continually indoors. It is possible to find sunshine even on the cloudiest of days.