Now that the gifts have been opened and put away, the glow of holiday lights has dimmed, it’s time to get back to reality. While some revel in the holiday hustle and bustle being over, it can spell t-r-o-u-b-l-e for some – also known as a “happiness hangover” – especially if the groundhog predicts another six weeks of winter next month.
But it’s doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom for the remaining winter months, even if the days are short and the nights are long. There are simple steps you can take that will boost your mood, while helping you get (and stay) in shape – body, mind, and spirit.
Here are five daily actions you can take to invite a little energy and positivity into your life – regardless of the weather.
For adults, experts recommend at least 30 minutes, 5 times a week of moderate to vigorous exercise. If you’re at work, it gives you a break from your desk, gets those legs and heart pumping, and helps you refocus. Too cold outside? Get yourself out of the house by taking part in an increasingly popular winter activity – mall walking. Not only does it keep you moving, it has the added social element that helps keep you mentally fit as well. This is especially important for seniors. It pays to get active.
A grateful heart is a happy heart. In fact, research shows that the benefits of giving include the production of serotonin (which makes you feel calmer and happier), oxytocin (which lowers blood pressure), lower levels of cortisol (which is commonly known as the stress hormone), and it produces endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers). Giving doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture; those random acts of kindness (like holding the door open for someone or paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line) have positive social consequences that can offer an instant mood boost.
In addition to lowering your blood pressure and increasing your energy, taking the time to meditate has proven to improve emotional stability, while increasing creativity and happiness. There is an array of free Apps that make meditation simple. Who doesn’t have 10 minutes a day to learn online – wherever and whenever you want?
We’ve heard it time and again, within this hyper accessible online social world in which we live, the benefits of unplugging are many. It helps increase awareness of your surroundings, while helping you stay in the present. And, of course, it provides much-needed downtime. It can also give you back your most precious possession – time – to get connected IRL (in real life). With loneliness reaching epidemic levels and as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, disconnecting so you can get connected with friends and loved ones can do wonders for your emotional and mental well being.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to combat the cold, seemingly endless, winter months ahead, by keeping these five solutions in your health and wellness arsenal, you’ll be taking intentional steps towards better mental and physical health. And isn’t that the real gift that keeps giving, all year round?