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Overcoming Seasonal Depression Through Outdoor Activities

Overcoming Seasonal Depression Through Outdoor Activities

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Robert Parmer

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

2. Use the Pareto Principle

Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

3. Make Stakes

Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

4. Record Yourself

Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group

There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel

Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

7. Be a Chameleon

When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

“Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

8. Focus

Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize

The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

10. Find a Mentor

Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

11. Sleep on It

Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

Check out his video to find out more:

13. Learn by Doing

It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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14. Complete Short Sprints

Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

15. Ditch the Distractions

Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Use Nootropics

Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

17. Celebrate

For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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The Bottom Line

Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

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