It’s not always easy to remain a “glass-half-full” kind of person during the winter months. The days get shorter and darker, the weather gets colder, and by necessity most of us have to spend a lot more time inside.
But you don’t have to fall prey to the Winter Blues. In fact, you can look at this time of year as an opportunity—an opportunity to view the different areas of your life and contemplate how you might enrich them so that you stay happy and healthy. As you get out your warmer clothes and move through autumn and towards winter, give some thought to these suggestions for staying healthy, active, and positive during the colder months of the year.
Stay active SOCIALLY.
Even though it’s not always as easy during the winter as it is during the long sunny days of summer, it’s important that you remain active socially and keep yourself in the company of friends. Otherwise, it’s too easy to slip into the kind of solitude that can lead to loneliness and other dark emotions. So think about some of these suggestions that can keep your social calendar lively.
• Plan a weekly after-work dinner for yourself and some of your co-workers. You don’t have to do anything elaborate here; just pick a spot to meet right after work, and let everyone know that you’ll be meeting there every week as soon as the workday ends.
• Meet a friend for lunch on a regular basis. The consistency of being in the company of someone you like and who also likes you can help you stay energized and connected.
• Watch for other group meetings that will get you out of the house and keep you relating with the people around you. Join a club. Explore the possibility of community theater. Look into activities hosted by a singles group near where you live. It doesn’t matter exactly what you do. Just stay connected to other people, and enjoy the numerous emotional and psychological benefits that come with your various relationships.
Stay active PHYSICALLY.
Where you live, it may not be practical to go for long walks or to exercise outdoors like you do during the summer. But there are plenty of ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle even during the winter months. What’s most important is that you stay active physically. Here are some physical-activity suggestions for the cold days ahead:
• Join a gym. This is a great way to stay in shape when it’s cold outside. There you can try out different types of exercise and find the ones you enjoy most (or hate the least).
• Work out in your own home. Check out some of the TV programs that lead you through yoga or aerobic exercises. Or get a treadmill, or a set of weights.
• If weather permits, take a quick walk during your lunch break. Find a buddy who’s also looking for ways to stay active, and put in motion a lunchtime ritual that will be good for you both physically and emotionally.
• Make sure that you get enough sunlight. A lack of light can lead to seasonal affective disorder and other forms of depression. So do what you can to get plenty of light. Throw open your blinds during the day, leave lights bright in rooms you’re in, and maybe even think about going South for a vacation.
Stay active MENTALLY.
By keeping your mind engaged you can avoid some of the doldrums that attack during the cold part of the year. Here are some suggestions for staying sharp:
• Join a book club. Whether you like highbrow classics, chick-lit, or a good old-fashioned whodunit, you can usually find a group that reads what you enjoy. For help finding the group that’s right for you, check with one of your local bookstores. Or, if you don’t find one that feels right, start your own.
• Put some thought into your career. Are there things you could do right now that would give you a leg up, professionally? Could you learn a new skill, or branch out into a new area?
• Take up a new hobby that will challenge your mind. Maybe study gourmet cooking, or become a classic movie buff, or try your hand at origami. The winter is a great time to explore options you haven’t considered before. And if you find that one hobby’s not for you, just move on to another one. The key is to make sure that you’re keeping your mind active and engaged.
Stay active SPIRITUALLY.
As the days get shorter and darker, keep the light burning within. Take advantage of the extra moments in which you’re forced to slow down and remain indoors, and spend some time being more contemplative and concentrating on personal growth. You should pursue whatever feels right to you, but here are some recommendations to get you started:
• Spend a few minutes each morning being quiet and preparing for the day. Research shows that one of the best ways to maintain overall health in the many facets of your life is to practice some form of meditation. Simply get still, focus on your breathing, and allow yourself to “charge up” for the day. Just five or ten minutes is a great way to start.
• Return to a book that’s been meaningful to you in the past, and spend some time skimming through and recalling passages that inspired you.
• Attend a group meeting that helps you focus on living out your principles. This might mean attending formal religious services, or it might mean a social organization where you feel comfortable. Spending time with like-minded people is a great way to keep yourself feeling “alive” inside.
• Do something for someone else. While you’re focusing on keeping yourself healthy during the winter months, give some thought to how you might help another person. Is there somewhere you could volunteer your time or use some of your unique talents in a way that would benefit other people?
Notice that all of these ideas are about staying active and feeling energized. It doesn’t matter too much exactly what you do. The point is that you do something, and that you keep yourself alive and active when you might be tempted to shut down and remain sedentary. So give it some thought, and take steps right now to keep yourself active, energetic, and healthy.