The winter season is almost upon us. It can be hard to stay motivated during the winter months. The cold temperatures and darker days sometimes make you want to stay in bed longer under a nice, warm blanket.
Physical wellness and mental wellness are just as important during the winter as they are any other season. Regular maintenance of mind and body has shown to slow down debilitating body changes, such as arthritis, muscle loss, obesity and bone loss caused by aging. It also reduces the risk of falls, maintains physical independence and improves brain health.
To avoid a winter slump, we have to find interesting and fun ways to keep ourselves motivated. Here are some ideas to help you get started.
What Are the Winter Blahs or Winter Blues?
Whether that blah feeling is caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), post-holiday blues or a lack of exercise, Chicago’s gray days and howling winds do nothing to alleviate it.
No matter the cause, winter blues are exacerbated by that blah feeling suffered by Northerners this time of year. Its characteristics are:
- lack of motivation
- negative attitude
- rejection of change
- lack of creativity
- brain fog
So, how do you maintain your wellness during the long winter months and avoid a winter slump?
9 Activities to Avoid the Winter Blahs
No, you don’t have to trek to the gym. Play your favorite music so loudly you can feel it deep in your stomach and dance. Walk your dog instead of letting it go in the backyard. Go to the local museum and walk around all the exhibits. Drum on your oatmeal box or, if you’ve got them, bongos or djembes. If you can find a heated pool, you’ve really hit the jackpot. Every bit of exercise not only reduces your risk of mortality, but it also makes you happier and healthier.
Always wanted to take a Carribean vacation? During the winter is the perfect time to do so! Traveling to someplace new not only gets you out and about during the winter months, but it has many health benefits. It increases your happiness, boosts your creativity and provides stress relief.
Sunlight and bright light boost levels of serotonin, a mood-boosting chemical, in your body. Serotonin eases both SAD and depression.
If you don’t have a sunny window, consider a lightbox. Limited ultraviolet exposure in a tanning booth boosts serotonin levels and prevent vitamin D deficiency. If the cold is bearable, take a step outside and get some fresh air.
Direct sunlight on your skin for 10 minutes a day can prevent vitamin D deficiency, which is linked to depression, bone and tooth loss, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and more.
Even if you want to stay inside and snuggle up on your couch, only do it sparingly. Getting out and mingling with people prevents mental health problems, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Catching up with friends over breakfast or coffee can be a great pick-me-up. Find a group or committee for a hobby or cause you are interested in. This is a great opportunity to meet new people and make more friends.
Eat Dark Chocolate.
This may be your favorite activity! After all, who can resist chocolate? Dark chocolate, eaten in reasonable amounts, causes your brain to release dopamine and serotonin.
Evidence indicates dopamine reduces depression, helps with weight loss and increases motivation. Other foods to consider are fish, eggs, spirulina, red beets and apples, all of which help balance dopamine levels.
Volunteering can be a fun and rewarding experience. There are many opportunities to volunteer in local and national non-profits others are informal and intuitive, like helping a neighbor or family friend.
Volunteer activities can be done in the warmth of the indoors and include sharing your knowledge on a subject by providing a lecture or speaking at a conference, mentoring young entrepreneurs, providing companionship and care to someone less fortunate, running a social event and more.
Volunteering helps you feel healthier and happier as it connects you with others and brings fun and fulfillment to your life.
Have you tried meditation? Taking 20 minutes out of your day to sit and clear your mind can do wonders for your mind and body. Meditation can relieve stress and increases motivation by improving focus and concentration. This practice also increases your state of happiness, which is sure to chase away any winter blues.
Get rid of that wrapped-in-fog feeling by stimulating your senses. Go to a contemporary art museum, such as Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and check out abstract art. Try aromatherapy. Get a massage. Sample the Ethiopian cuisine at Den Den Restaurant in Uptown Chicago. There are endless opportunities in this great city.
Laughter stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles and increases your intake of oxygen. It also boosts the endorphins released by your brain. If funny TV shows or Facebook cat videos aren’t doing it for you, you could enjoy improv comedy at the CSz Theater in Chicago. If you ever wanted to try your hand at improv, the CSz Theater also provides improv classes.
No matter what you call it, if you continue to experience that blah feeling for more than two weeks, contact your doctor. Your doctor can help you navigate out of the winter blues safely and put you on the right track to get your happiness back.
The Admiral at the Lake Lifestyle
The Admiral at the Lake is resident-driven, meaning the residents form committees and groups that plan and organize activities within the community. Some activities include trips in and around Chicago, which gives you a chance to get out and about during the winter months.
The residents at The Admiral at the Lake spend their time any way they please and have a new sense of security with the knowledge that, because of Lifecare, their future health care needs will be taken care of. To learn more about The Admiral at the Lake, contact us or call 773.433.1800.