Advertising

Overcoming Seasonal Depression Through Outdoor Activities

Overcoming Seasonal Depression Through Outdoor Activities
Advertising

When the temperature drops and winter weather sets in, it’s common to gravitate towards staying indoors as much as possible. Self-induced ‘hibernation’ is typical for many people who just want to stay warm and stick out the winter indoors. As someone who is almost always cold, I can relate to this feeling. I’d prefer to spend all winter curled up in blankets, binge-watching Netflix with my cat.

However, I also recognize that seasonal depression is something that drastically affects me. So every winter, I’m forced out of my depressive ‘comfort’ zone and must prevail the cold. That all being said, I’ve noticed a trend in my winter routine over the years: as soon as I start embracing the cold, rather than despising it, my levels of depression decrease.

A frequent misconception that outdoor activity during cold temperatures makes you sick or is unhealthy keeps many people locked inside. But science actually proves the opposite is true. For me, breaking up monotonous indoor winter routines and just being outside has proven to be widely beneficial to my mental and physical health.

Advertising

Related: Winter’s Here: 7 Tips to Overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder

Start With Typical Winter Sports and Activities

Hitting the slopes is something enjoyed by many. Whether you’re an enthusiast or a first time skier/snowboarder, there’s much to enjoy about winter sports. From the bunny hill to the backside, everyone has a great time carving the mountains once the snow piles up. Snowmobiling is another exciting winter activity to try, as well as the a more mellow approach of sledding and ice skating.

Travel When Conditions Permit

While traveling around the holidays is ordinary, it doesn’t have to stop after Christmas. Plan a winter getaway when conditions and weather are permitting. Equip your vehicle with winter tires and traction chains if you plan on road tripping. And bring the dog along for the ride. Just make sure your pets are safe too!

Advertising

Related: Essential Car Care Tips You Need to Know for Winter

Try Snowshoeing and Winter Hiking

What’s more captivating than finding a breathtaking view of wilderness? How about your favorite landscapes dusted with fresh snow! Hiking isn’t just for the summer time! Many of the same places you hike in warmer months are also open to the public in the winter. Check ahead of time to be certain that hiking trails and roadways are open and safe.

Soak It Up In the Best Hot Springs

If you’re up for even more of an endeavor than a winter hike, map out a trek to a natural hot spring! Your mind, body, and specifically your skin will thank you. The softness of the water in hot springs nourishes the skin in a unique way and provides the body with minerals that are atypical. A great starting point for scouting out hot springs is this list of the most famous hot springs in the world.

Advertising

Winter Surfing (Yes, It’s Real)

Looking for an unconventional outdoor activity this winter? Why not try winter surfing? Although I’m a novice surfer at best, I’ve actually taken part in late fall and early winter surfing and it was simply incredible. For me, the rush of cold water was only temporary and really got endorphins pumping through my body.

Keep safety as your number one priority if you decide to embark in winter surfing. A proper winter wetsuit is absolutely crucial as well as many other safety precautions. Always have a safety plan and surf with friends!

Maintain The Space Around Your Home

Winter months are clearly not a time for gardening or lawn care. But there are certainly many things a person can do to winter-proof their home and maintain the space they live in. When excessive snow hits, many people ignore their driveways and sidewalks. It’s important to constantly keep them clear and salted, for obvious safety reasons.

Advertising

A major seasonal challenge in addition to shoveling snow is keeping roofs clear of snow buildup. If snow isn’t removed from the top of homes, it can become extremely heavy. This can cause roofs to collapse and poses other hazards.

When under layers of snow melt and runs down a slanted roof, ice dams can form. This can cause damage to shingles and allows water to soak through into attics and upper levels of homes. Ice dams also become very heavy and can destroy rain gutters. For a complete guide on ice dams, and how to remove them, check out this useful resource titled: Ice Dams: Everything You Need to Know.

A Unique Outdoor Activity Tip For Winter

Many people forget that it’s still possible to get sunburns in the winter time. When the sun shines on blankets of snow the rays can actually be reflected and intensified. So if you know you are someone who burns easily, be sure to apply and reapply sunscreen.

Advertising

No matter what you’re doing this year to escape indoor isolation, make sure safety is always kept in mind. There’s no shortage of hazards during the winter months, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get outdoors and brave the cold. Your mind and your body will thank you!

Featured photo credit: Gratisography via gratisography.com

More by this author

Robert Parmer

Freelance Writer

There’s No Perfect Family, but a Happy Family Doesn’t Need to Be Perfect The One Technique You Need to Turn Boring Writing into Compelling Words Overcoming Seasonal Depression Through Outdoor Activities How Students Can Combat Stress, Depression, and Anxiety [TIMELY TOPIC] Helpful Halloween Safety Tips for Everyone

Trending in Productivity

1 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021 2 How a Project Management Mindset Boosts Your Productivity 3 5 Values of an Effective Leader 4 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 5 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
Advertising

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

Advertising

From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

Advertising

The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

Advertising

But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

Advertising

Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

Read Next