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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 September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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