Hibernation Mode

Hi all! I don’t know about you, but I have had the most difficult time getting out of bed in the morning. I’m making a conscious effort to go to bed early(ish) but I must say, this sudden cold weather is making me want to retreat under the covers until spring time. Here are a few slight changes that I’m making to ensure that I function to my best ability, despite the unappealing chill factor.

(photo cred:chicklitplus.com)

Drink more water. Everyone knows that you’re supposed to drink 8 glasses of water a day, but when it’s cold out, I think we tend toward drinks like coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and other beverages that warm us up. Therefore, if you don’t make a conscious effort to sip some water, it’s much easier to get dehydrated. Drinking water in the winter is also essential because it hydrates your skin! If you find that your skin is drier and flakier than usual, or your lips are chapped or cracked, think about upping your water consumption! I keep a 1 liter water bottle in the refridgerator at my job and make sure to drink at least 1.5 liters throughout the day.

Eat energizing foods. Colder weather usually means cravings for comforting foods. I find that while I may crave sweets, especially at night (hello, old Halloween candy!) and comforting carbs, I feel lethargic after eating them. I have been making big pots of lentil stew so that I can quickly heat up a bowl for lunch or dinner. By throwing in roasted carrots, celery, tomatoes and spinach in with the protein-packed lentils, it makes for a nutritious, energizing, and comforting meal. At night, instead of reaching for the big bag of M&Ms and peppermint patties that my supervisor gave me, I have been having a small piece of dark chocolate and an orange, or a cup of homemade hot cocoa (with skim milk!) and an apple. Listen to your body and try to get to the root of your cravings! If you’re craving pretzels and chips, you probably want something savory, so reach for vegetables with hummus or some air-popped popcorn with a little olive oil and sea salt. Craving candy and sweets? Try making a baked apple with nutmeg and a drizzle of pure maple syrup, or sprinkle some orange segments with cinnamon. It’s all about eating what makes you feel good.

Get moving! I know this is a no-brainer, but during the cold months, I make it a point to get some sort of physical activity at least once a day. It’s difficult because it’s getting darker earlier, so many of us leave for work or class in the morning when it’s still relatively dark out, and then don’t get out until the sun is setting. These in-between months are also difficult because while you may not want to do the outdoor activities that you were doing over the summer, it’s not yet time for winter sports, such as snow shoeing, skiing, and ice skating. I love running outside, but the cold air makes my lungs very unhappy. Instead of running outside after work, I’ve started to take walks during my lunch hour. I picked up some warm shirts and pants at The North Face Outlet a few years ago (sample sale win!) and I try to go walking at noon (don’t forget sunscreen!), which is the warmest part of the day. Remember to wear a hat and gloves on those extra chilly days. Not only do I feel physically good afterward, my mental state is much better too. Taking a mini mental break lets me start the afternoon with a clear head, and I don’t fall into a slump around 3 pm. Luckily, since I’m on a campus, I have free(!!) access to a gym. If you don’t have a gym membership, I would recommend exploring alternative activities. If walking outside isn’t for you, how about exercising in the comfort of your own home? I have had really great results from various workout dvds, such as Fat Burning Yoga. I took out a bunch of dvds from the public library, and this was one of my favorites. If you haven’t found a video that works best for you, check out what your library has, and after you’ve found one that you like, you can always buy it on ebay or Amazon! If you want a short workout, Jillian Michaels has a few videos that I enjoy. I’ve tried the Yoga Meltdown as well as the 30 Day Shred. I only do these workouts when I’m pressed for time, since they are each about 25 minutes long. If you aren’t a fan of workout dvds, use what you have! Run up and down your stairs a few times, vacuum your entire house or apartment, or do push-ups and sit-ups during the commercials of your favorite television show. Anything to get your heart rate up, and those endorphins released!

Soak up some rays. Getting a good dose of Vitamin D can have a positive impact on your mood, and all it takes is 15 minutes of exposure a day! It’s easy to go from work to the gym to the couch and then spend the rest of the night watching The Vampire Diaries (what? It is the BEST show on tv. No, I’m not joking. Watch one episode and tell me the plotline isn’t stellar. Go ahead. I’ll wait) but by getting a little sunshine, you could see a marked improvement in your happiness.

Keep It Social, Smarty! It’s really easy to stay inside where it’s warm and cozy and to neglect any and all social plans. You may not be hibernating, but you might be isolating. I have been interning as a therapist for the past two years, and I can confidently say that in the fall and winter months, rates of depression increase. If you’re skipping out on plans with friends more often than not, take off those sweatpants, put on your going out clothes, and have a good time. If you’re feeling a little down about the cold, isolating yourself from your social support group is only going to exacerbate those feelings. It’s good to get out of your house once in a while, believe me, even if you just go to a friend’s house for dinner and a movie. Do something that makes you laugh, it’s good for your health.

What do you do to beat the cold weather blues? Or are you a fan of cooler temperatures? Email us at apositiveregard (at) gmail (dot) com!!

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