This time of year can be rough on our health. Between the holidays, cold weather, and short days, we have a tendency to fall into a state of overindulgence, inactivity, and hibernation. It doesn’t help that nature is seemingly working against us by pushing us into “energy conservation mode.” Not to say that there is not a time and place for this, but too much of it can end up taking a toll on our mental and physical health.
Below are some tips to help us fight against hibernation and keep us on track throughout the long winter months:
1.) Give yourself the freedom to say no: within the next few weeks you will most likely be exposed to an excessive amount of alcohol, food, and holiday treats. Take this time to practice your mindfulness with consumption. Just because it’s front of you does not mean you have to eat it. As much as you have the freedom to say yes to food, you have the freedom to say no if you so choose - there is power in both.
2.) Find an outdoor activity that you enjoy: getting outside has loads of benefits that we sometimes don't realize until we have it stripped away. Find an activity such as skiing, cross-country skiing, or hiking that gets you out the door and moving. It’s only cold if you’re standing still!
3.) Find an indoor activity that you like: driving home at 5 PM in the dark is nothing short of demotivating. The easy option would be to go straight home to your couch and stay there the rest of the night, but I encourage you to find something that gets you out and doing something else at least one or two days per week. Pack your clothes/ whatever you need for said activity so that you don’t go home in between. This will prevent both prolonged nights full of inactivity and late night “boredom TV snacking.”
4.) Find alternatives: opt for tea over hot chocolate/alcohol, yogurt dips over full fat dips, homemade over store bought, white meat over dark, whole wheat over white, etc.
5.) Enjoy yourself. With all this being said, the holidays are a great time to come together and indulge in the things you wouldn’t typically indulge in. Give yourself the freedom to enjoy it guilt-free, but do what you can to prevent any sort of downward spiraling. One day of overeating will not make or break you, but weeks of eating and drinking your weight in leftovers and booze may. Get off track, but let that only encourage you to get right back on.
Stephanie Spoto, CSCS