THRIVING DURING THE WINTER - DECEMBER EDITION

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Whether you have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), or feel a little down with less sunshine, or struggle to keep up your healthy lifestyle, I’ll be sharing my tips with you every “winter” month to keep you feeling great, inside and out.

Dependent upon where I’ve lived, my satisfaction with life come winter time has ranged from mild dislike to WHEN WILL IT ENNNNNNND?

Due to familial situation, it’s not possible for me to live in a place that stays delightfully sunny year round. I’m currently living in a city with a real deal winter, significantly less sunshine (we have days or sometimes weeks at a time where it’s overcast), teen-digit temperatures, regular snow, and also crappy air (thanks, Utah). So I tend to lean towards full blown Seasonal Affective Disorder, and have to make a very conscious effort to stay on top of my emotional, mental, and physical health.

Each month I’ll be sharing tips, tailored to that specific month (which may include some repeats, month to month), to help you feel your best until the delightful season of Spring!

For many people, December is an easier month to deal with the woes of winter both because winter may not have fully set in, dependent on where you live, and it’s a BUSY time. People have mile-long to-do lists, parties to attend, friends and family to see. Connection is an important aspect of our emotional and mental health, and for many people they have plenty of that at the holidays. However, this is the best time to set up some habits to ensure that when January rolls around, you’re still feeling great about life.

  1. INCORPORATE CARDIO EVERY DAY.
    -Although this is a great thing to do for your health 24/7/365, it’s especially important during the winter. In fact, cardio exercise is one of the best treatments for SAD, as it provides immediate relief of symptoms.

    -It can be hard to stay motivated in the cold, friends can help! Either exercise with friends, or have accountability buddies to make sure you’re staying on track.

    -Play around with new exercises or activities, like joining a rock climbing gym (our local one allows you to pause your contract for the summer OR allows you to pay month by month). If you like group fitness, try a new class!

    -Don’t let perfectionism stop you: Even a 7 minute workout (just google “7 minute workouts” or search that on the app store) is often enough to get your heart rate up and you feeling good!

    -Start and end the day with a dance party. As cheesy as it sounds, your roommate, kid, or SO might think you’re crazy (or fun, hopefully fun), dancing to an upbeat and happy song will not only boost your mood, but get that heart rate up.

  2. LISTEN TO UPBEAT THINGS:

    Speaking of happy songs…. I’ve noticed a significant difference when I listen to either motivation speeches, upbeat music, or even audio books, versus some of the slower cozy coffee-shop-esque winter makes me want to listen to. The things we listen to impact our thoughts, and our thoughts impact our decisions. Therefore, it’s important to listen to postitive things.

  3. GET GOOD SLEEP.

    This might be easier said than done, during the busy holiday season, but my very worst days are the days I don’t get enough sleep. This can be the difference between “I got this” and “the sky is falling.” I’ve got a blog post coming up soon with tips for better sleep!

  4. LEARNING TO STRATEGICALLY SAY YES (as opposed to learning to say no).

    One of my favorite movies from several years ago was “Yes, Man!” A movie about a man who, in an effort to revive his life, joined a program where he had to say yes to everything. It was great up until a certain point, where it became overwhelming. Saying “yes” to life give us opportunities, to grow, to learn, to serve, to enjoy. But if we’re not paying attention to when and what and even who we say yes to, it can lead to being burnt out. “YES” is powerful, so use it wisely, with your limits in mind, especially during this busy time of year.

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5. VITAMIN D.

If you live in a place where you aren’t getting much sun during the winter (our body absorbs Vitamin D when skin is exposed to the sun for a minimum of 30 minutes), taking Vitamin D can benefit your mood, your immune system, and your bone health. 2,000 IU daily is a safe daily level for an adult to be consuming, but you may want to check with your physician if a higher dose would be beneficial and or having your blood levels tested if you’re feeling like that may not be enough. I noticed an immediate mood boost upon adding these to my routine!

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6. GET OUTSIDE EVERY DAY:

This, like cardio, is one of the quickest sure-fire ways for me to boost my mood (bonus for combining exercise and getting outside!)
I’ve looked for a certain study over and over again with no luck (I wish I’d saved the original link) but I read an article a few years ago that individuals who continue to exercise and get outside in the cold in the fall remain less effected by the cold. I mean, we don’t really need science to tell us this (duh) but it’s easier to gradually build up a tolerance to something than to shock your system with it. In most places, January and February will bring colder temperatures, so even if you weren’t active during the fall, getting outside NOW will still make it easier.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear any of your tips, and can’t wait to revisit this subject in January!

Katie Buchanan