If you’re anything like me, the second it gets cold you want all the blankets, all the creamy soups, all the Netflix on the couch, ALL THE TIME! Who wants to change into tight workout clothes and attempt to bundle up and leave the house for a run or a trip to the gym when your cozy chair and favorite knit socks simply won’t let you go?
Well fear not fellow homebodies! I’ve gotten pretty creative this year on how to stay moving without moving too far at all. Here’s how to beat winter at its own game, and do it from the comfy-cozy confines of your house.
Dread commercials? Make ’em count!
While I fully endorse the 25 Days of Christmas movie marathon, nobody needs 25 full days to sit around. Use those dreaded commercial breaks as an excuse to move around. The average half-hour TV show has at least 8 minutes of ads, double that for an hour, so if you’re binge-watching Gilmore Girls that adds up quick! Think pushups, jumping jacks, squats, lunges, no equipment, and only a few minutes to push it hard before your show is back on!
I’m not afraid to admit I get a little bummed out as summer transitions to autumn, and then to winter. The perfectly named Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is an affliction of which I’ve always suffered, but for the longest time I thought I was being an overly sensitive wimp. After a mild and jovial summer, the cool air that gusts melancholy over the Midwest in early September had me wondering if I was about to get SAD again, if it was a legitimate condition, and if so, what I could do fight it.
I shot our resident mental health expert, Brooke Randolph, LMHC an email asking her about SAD, and she revealed that after two decades of speculation, SAD had officially been classified as a common disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). In 2008—before SAD was an official diagnosis—Brooke wrote, “Our natural response to the seasonal changes only becomes a disorder when the distress is in excess of what would be expected from the stressor (seasonal change) and/or when it interferes with functioning in more than one key life area.” For example, if seasonal change begins to negatively impact your responsibilities as an employee, student, or partner, you probably have SAD. (more…)
It is estimated that at least 6 out of 100 people suffer from some type of light deficient depression during the dark days of winter, but turning your clock back an hour doesn’t have to leave you in the dark. If sunshine on your shoulders makes you happy and being starved for daylight puts you in a funk, imagining the sun can be the next best thing to keep your spirits up this winter.
Your imagination is very effective since your mind and body sometimes don’t know the difference between whether your brain is just thinking something or if you are actually experiencing something. According to the American Psychological Association, studies have associated the use of guided imagery techniques with positive outcomes such as reduced anxiety and depression. So, whenever you need to bask in some radiant sunshine, whether you are inside or out, this simple guided imagery can help.
Practice the following sequence as often as necessary and start to feel brighter, more cheerful and full of positive energy.
As winter stretches on after Punxsutawney Phil was frightened by his own shadow, many can start to feel SAD or trapped. It’s no wonder so many are ready to peel off all the extra layers and escape for spring break. Dealing with snow, freezing rain, ice, school cancellations, delays, and more can become frustrating, adding complication and stressors to daily life. When you start to feel claustrophobic from being in your own home, it is time to run away, literally.
I find so much freedom in running, leaving my computer behind for at least 20 minutes and getting around on my own physical power. It is how I allow my brain to rest and renew while I engage myself physically. After being cooped up as a result of winter weather, getting active feels great! (more…)
Just as we are slowing down from all the activity and excitement of the holiday season and entering the winter months when people often experience a situational mood depression and are tempted to hibernate, the New York Times is talking about research on the minimum amount of physical activity necessary to prevent psychological distress.
More than 19,000 Scottish citizens were included in this study, utilizing Scottish Health Surveys and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). The researchers took into account participants’ differences in age, gender, social economic status, marital status, BMI, long-term illness, and smoking when compiling the results. It is not surprising that they found that daily physical activity was correlated with a lower risk of psychological distress. Activities noted as physical exercise included athletics, walking, gardening, and housework. Although even daily vacuuming and dusting can improve your mental health (and your physical environment), researchers did report less risk of psychological distress for those participating in athletics. (more…)