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7 Ways to Make the Most of Winter

7 Ways to Make the Most of Winter

Winter is well and truly upon us, and if you live in the Northern Hemisphere like Yours Truly, chances are you’ve been experiencing some seriously low temperatures and long, dark nights. It’s a funny time of the year, isn’t it? On the one hand, we feel buoyed by the warmth and togetherness brought about by the holidays and on the other, the almost perpetual darkness and the cruel, biting wind nipping aggressively at our noses can have a terribly damaging effect on our moods and motivation.

There’s no denying that winter can be a bit of an emotional – and physical, since those chapped lips and frozen fingertips don’t lie) – rollercoaster, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be all that terrible. In fact, play your cards right, and winter can be a rich and fulfilling season. To prove it, I have come up with seven actionable steps to make the best of the cold days and dark nights. But first, let’s take a look at why we should embrace this difficult time of the year instead of fearing it.

Why winter isn’t actually all that bad

Believe it or not, there is plenty to love about winter and cold weather – yes, even the biting cold! Indeed, there is a myriad of evidence that cooler temperatures can, in fact, be beneficial to our wellbeing. Consider this:

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-According to a study recently published in the journal ‘Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism’, colder temperatures may in fact help you lose weight. Indeed, prolonged exposure to cold requires our bodies to work harder to keep warm, thereby increasing our energy expenditure – i.e., our calorie burn. Who would’ve thought?

-Another study has revealed that the ideal temperature for sleeping is in fact lower than we may think. Hovering between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s 15 to 20 degrees Celcius), it would appear that we are in fact built for getting our most restful sleep in chilly conditions. Seems like winter may in fact be the seasonal equivalent of the Sandman!

-This is 100% biased, of course, but in my opinion, Mother Nature is at her most beautiful at this time of her year. Not only is she wrapped in the most gorgeous snowy drapes, the produce she yields in winter is not only utterly delicious but also among the healthiest out there. Dig in!

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-Believe it or not, colder temperatures are apparently conducive to more focused brain activity. This means that winter is the perfect time for getting some serious studying, planning and plotting done. Guess all those New Years resolutioners were onto something, am I right?

Now that we’ve established that winter isn’t actually all that bad, here are seven ways to make the most of this most gorgeous of seasons!

1. Get active!

One of the best ways to make the most of winter is to develop, or maintain, an active lifestyle. Indeed, beyond the usual health benefits, exercising during the winter may help alleviate the symptoms of an insidious illness – seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.). There are many ways of treating this disorder but, surprisingly, working out appears to be particularly effective. Do yourself a favor this season and get your sweat on – not only to keep that body in good shape, but also to protect your mental health.

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2. Enjoy the great outdoors.

Nature is arguably at its most spectacular, if not most beautiful, at this time of the year – the stark landscapes and soft, pillowy snow, if you’re so lucky, are the perfect backdrop for epic outdoors adventures. Grab some friends, prepare a picnic and set out into the great outdoors! Not only will it make for a great story afterwards, indulging in some outdoor play is also beneficial for other reasons. Namely…

3. Seize the day(light)!

Much like exercise, getting enough light – preferably natural – during the winter is vitally important in order to prevent seasonal affective disorder, and reducing its symptoms. Getting out and about during daylight hours, or alternatively, exposing yourself to artificial light that mimics sunlight, is not only good for the soul, but also great for your mental health. A good rule of thumb? Try exposing yourself to direct sunlight for 15 minutes a day!

4. Eat in season and discover some of the healthiest produce for you.

Winter is one of my favorite seasons, in terms of fruit and vegetables. From kale and brussels sprouts, to clementines, pomegranates and sweet potatoes, the colder months are home to some of the most powerful superfoods out there. Eating in season in winter will not only guarantee you the freshest, best quality produce; it will also keep your body, and most importantly, your stomach happy with these incredibly delicious foods!

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5. Get your pampering on.

Another way to keep the winter blues at bay is to indulge in some serious pampering. The long, dark nights are the perfect excuse to hole yourself up in your bathroom, have a good, long soak and really take care of yourself. Not only will you harness all the cosiness that winter can muster, you’ll also be better equipped for tackling any challenges the season may throw at you! Pampering yourself doesn’t have to mean hanging out in the bathtub, of course. Treat yourself to a hot chocolate, a good book in a warm room – anything that’ll make you feel incredible.

6. Do an end-of-year review and some New Year planning.

Like I mentioned above, the winter months are conducive to more brain activity; this means that now is the perfect time to get some serious planning and plotting done in order to make the New Year awesome! Take advantage of the long, quiet, dark nights to review the past year and set relevant, challenging goals for the year ahead. Nothing beats tackling a new phase in your life with some solid groundwork under the belt!

7. Learn something new.

Similarly, winter is a great time to buckle down and learn a new skill. Make the most of this quieter time to make some headway on learning a new language, a new instrument or a new dish. The world is your oyster!

Winter may not feel like the highlight of your year just yet, but these seven ideas will set you on the right path! Which one will you try first? Do you have any other ideas to turn that winter frown upside down? Please share in the comments!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Last Updated on January 17, 2019

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

Listen carefully:

We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

1. Pray Daily

You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

3. Smile Often

Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

4. Organize Your Working Desk

A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

How do you do that? This is my formula:

First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

8. Go Exercise

Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

The Bottom Line

It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

More Resources About Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

Reference

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