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How to Battle the Winter Blues

Human Resources

At first glance winter is a wonderful time of year, full of family feasts, festive gatherings and occasions to meet up with friends and loved ones. On the other hand, it can also come with overindulgence and heightened stress. People can feel pressured to make a good impressions during Christmas and New Years celebrations.

Unfortunately, stress and overindulgences are risk factors to a healthy lifestyle. As the temperature starts to drop, people are known to experience winter blues and may even suffer from depression. However, instead of letting that negatively affect you, you may want to gear up against the cold. We’ve asked a bunch of health experts to provide us with their best tips to battle the winter blues.

Jo Williams, fitness expert and owner of Inferno Fitness, is up first. According to her, exercise is essential during the winter months. She recommends the following two tips:

Williams: “Find a workout buddy. Having someone you trust to go on a winter fitness journey makes working out during the cooler months so much easier. Your buddy will keep you on track and hold you accountable for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You can measure your workout goals and even start a friendly competition.

“Another important thing is to keep eating vegetables. With the Christmas holidays coming up, we tend to eat more as a result of spending time with family and wanting to be inside bundled up. Just eating a few pieces of fruits and vegetables can help keep your immune system in tip top shape. Fruits such as bananas, strawberries, avocado, and grapes are packed with amino acids that are great for your body and therefore excellent to shake off the winter cold.”

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Josh Anderson, personal fitness trainer and owner of Always Active Athletics, also highlights the need for a healthy and active lifestyle.

Anderson: “It is very important to stay active during the winter months. The obvious reason is that we are stuck inside all winter being less active than we normally are during the summer. So we basically are using less calories on activities during the day which could lead to us gaining weight. Staying active during this time of the year can greatly reduce our weight gain over the winter months.

“Through moderate exercise we can greatly improve our moods throughout the winter. The endorphin release that accompanies exercise has lasting effects that can stay with us long after we are done working out, keeping us healthy and happy. My advice for people to get through a tough winter is: go out and exercise!

“Try to make it outside as much as possible. If your kids want to play in the snow, make sure to join them. When your dog wants to stay out on a walk 15 minutes longer, make it half an hour. The trick is to just to get up and be active!”

Marc Lerner, President of the Life Skills institute focuses on inner wellbeing rather than exercise.

Lerner: “Because most people spend more time indoors during the winter, they have to have a clear inner environment. We interpret our world through how we think of ourselves and our self-image, therefore we need to develop a self-image that is positive and harmonious with our well-being. We’ll get more inspired and open to what the world throws at us. We need to train our mind to be silent and free of thoughts. When you learn to relax it is easy to surrender and open up to an incredible resource of energy. You will start to receive, making it easier to focus and remember.”

Omar El-Gohary, Superintendent Pharmacist at Chemist Direct acknowledges that people are more prone to stay indoors and snuggle up during the cold months.

El-Gohary: “The shorter colder days discourage people from carrying on their regular regime whether that’s shopping, walking or playing sports. By staying active, you can help improve their energy levels, which will make tasks such as getting out of bed easier, and boost your immune system which will give you a better chance to avoid colds and flu which are more common in this time of year.

“Outdoor activity during daylight hours will help boost vitamin D levels, an important vitamin for bone growth and development, and also help boost your mood.  Less sunlight is linked with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) otherwise known as the winter blues. If its not possible for you to get out as much as you like or you feel you aren’t getting enough sunlight you should consider supplementing your diet with a vitamin D containing product.

 “People’s diets tend to deteriorate during the winter, whether that’s down to eating out of boredom, comfort eating, or big festive dinners. Keeping active you can help burn excess calories away and lose weight. You should always maintain a balanced healthy diet so there should be no need to modify your diet during colder months however.”

Karen Southwick is a CrossFit trainer and owner of CrossFit Affiliate gym CrossFit Aevitas. She gives some pieces of advice for staying healthy, happy, and active during the winter months:

Southwick: ”It is best to get out during the middle of the day, to maximize your fresh air and sunlight exposure. In the winter we tend to wake up in the dark, drive to work in the dark and drive home from work in the dark. This messes with our circadian (daily) rhythm and as a result we feel more lazy and tired. If you find a way to add just 10 to 15 minutes of daily outdoor activity, it will boost your energy levels and mood tremendously.

“It is important to dress for the weather when you’re out. This may seem like a silly piece of advice, but too many people try to get outside in the winter without having the proper gear. They will end up cold and wet and miserable, and then skip the activity next time. You should invest in breathable, waterproof apparel that allows for ventilation when you’re working up a sweat outside, but also protection against the most harsh conditions. Get a pair of gloves and a hat, and boots or shoes that are comfortable to walk in while keeping your feet toasty. You will want to be outside because you’ll know you’ll stay comfortable.”

So there you have it. According to our health experts the best way to shake off your winter blues is to stay active, particularly during the middle of the day so as to get as much sunlight exposure as possible. But don’t forget your vegetables and fruits. Now you’re all geared up you’re ready for whatever stresses and colds winter will throw at you.

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