Long winter months take a toll on everything from fitness, energy, and productivity levels to emotional wellbeing and overall quality of life. For many, the combination of shorter, colder days and limited access to sunlight and fresh air can zap energy levels and even lead to the dreaded winter blues. Familiar coping mechanisms include hunkering down on the couch under a pile of blankets and indulging in hearty comfort foods like rich stews and baked goods.
All that feels great when you're doing it, but eating more and moving less takes its own toll as well, from weight gain to stiffness throughout your body. Now that Spring has sprung, it's a good time to practice a little self-care and focus on your health and wellness. Getting ready for spring may be be easier than you think with a few small and simple lifestyle changes; start incorporating these warm-weather habits into your life now to help you get out of the rut and leave winter in the dust.
Eat for Warm Weather
Sometimes, a hearty bowl of chicken soup is in order to work through a cold or simply warm up after a frigid commute home from work. But incorporating lighter fare heavy on fruits and vegetables will help manage any winter weight gain, keep energy levels up, and help you get back on track. If drinking a frozen kale smoothie on a cold morning sounds like a recipe for hypothermia, try making a few modifications to bridge the gap. Instead of that cold smoothie, have an egg white omelet with fresh vegetables or plain yogurt with fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey.
Take Advantage of the Longer Days
One of the most depressing aspects of winter is the shortened period of daylight—waking up before the sun comes up, only to step right back into the darkness at the end of the work day. In that sense, spending every last possible second under the covers in the morning is a no-brainer. But now that the time has changed (Spring Forward!), you have more daylight to enjoy. Start off your morning by getting up 15 minutes earlier to stretch, do a little yoga, meditate, or slowly enjoy breakfast. Taking this time for yourself before rushing out the door can boost energy and lower stress and anxiety.
Consume Summer-Friendly Media
Who says beach reads and reggae can only be enjoying during the summer? Even if immediate transport to a warm and sunny Caribbean beach is not in the cards, enjoying the sounds, smells, food, and entertainment of summer can be an instant mood booster. And dancing along with the music is a great way to burn a few extra calories.
Set Up Low-Effort, Sustainable Routines
Unfortunately, the body's need for exercise and movement doesn't hibernate when there's snow on the ground or the temperature falls below freezing. Moving is a great way to reset both your body and mind so regardless of the weather, taking small steps every day will have a positive impact. While you're taking care of your body, don't forget to take care of your mind. A few minutes of meditation can work wonders with reducing stress and giving you renewed energy and focus.
- Go for a Walk (yes, even if it's cold out)
Just a short, brisk walk during lunch can make a big difference. You'll get a little vitamin D while enjoying the Spring sunlight, and it'll help you fend off the aches and pains that can build up from being at a desk and in front of a computer screen every day.
- Get Moving at Your Desk
Speaking of aches and pains, staying active, pain-free, and flexible while at work doesn't have to be hard. A few good stretches can really help your back and hamstrings. Even better? Try our new Pop-Up Workouts!
- Breathe and Sit Up Straight
Mindful and deliberate breathing is not just the cornerstone of yoga and meditation practices, it's an instant way to feel good in the moment. Schedule various breaks throughout the work day to take a few deep breaths, and focus on your posture to support your neck and back. Kelly Heath at Kelly Heath Yoga does a great job of breaking down the “3-Part Breath” for us.
How do you get ready for spring? Share your tips and tricks; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Thanks to Blake Bronstad for letting us use his awesome photograph! Find him on Instagram: @posesawkwardly.