Learning to Love the Winter

Growing up in the Midwest the coming of winter signaled a time when most activities came to a screeching stop. The excitement of playing in the snow ended quickly and for the most part we spent our days staring out the window waiting for spring to come. As an adult I have spent the past few years away from the Midwest, in winters that were rarely below freezing and I would still be outside in a sweatshirt (because as my mom has said 5 million times I never dress for the weather). This year we are back in the cold and I have to say it has been an adjustment. Madison has been COLD this year, but despite the single digit temps people are constantly outside keeping active. Even on the coldest of days it seems like everyone is walking to the store, biking, ice skating and fishing on the lake and running. I have to admit it truly has inspired me. Not only to get out and move my body but also to enjoy and embrace the winter months. Here are a few ways you can too, through a few simple hygge tips!

Hygge: The Danish concept for the cozy contentment and well-being of the simple things in life.

1.) Join a Book Club

To get into prime hygge mode, read books you have been meaning to get to this winter! Joining a book club will not only motivate you to knock some great reads off your list, it will also help you to socialize and meet new people.

2.) Have a Spa Day

Our skin and hair can often suffer in the winter months so it is the perfect opportunity to have an all out spa day. I love trying out homemade face and hair masks while watching some of my favorite TV shows. Having spa days always feel like a treat and a lot of the best DIY masks are products you already have at home.

3.) Move your Body

For me this has to be one of the most important ways to get myself happily through the winter. Our bodies crave movement especially when a lot of our time is spent inside. I love getting out to run if it is not too cold (put a scarf over your mouth to protect your lungs) and even doing small workouts inside has immensely helped me. If it is really cold out I recommend going to a hot yoga class, not only do you get to stretch out your cold, tight muscles you also get some sauna time! If you’re craving the outdoors, bundle up and go on a hike! Winter is one of my favorite times to hike. There are a lot less people out and you get to see the world in a different way, often frozen and snow covered.

4.) Eat Seasonal Produce

Winter is no excuse to stop eating vegetables, in fact some of the most warming produce come right in time for the winter. Some of my favorites are brussels sprouts, all your greens like cabbage and kale, persimmon, sweet potato, pomegranate, turnips, mandarin oranges. Eating just a few servings of produce a day will keep you balanced and ready for the day. Try fresh fruit salads and warming soups and roasts.

5.) Help Others in Need

If you are able-bodied, fed and sheltered during the winter you have it better than many people in your community. A small act of kindness in the winter can go a very long way. Volunteer at your local food shelter or donate canned items. This can be one of the most difficult times for homeless people during the year, and any small act of kindness can help tremendously. Shovel sidewalks and run errands for older neighbors. Simply going to the grocery store for someone can make the biggest difference for their week.

6.) Enjoy the Contentment!

Winter is a great time to get things done around the house, do crafts or simply have some alone time. Appreciate the extra time spent at home. This can be in the form of doing everything on your to do list or picking a great movie to watch with a loved one. Simply enjoy these quiet moments.

7.) Take Vitamin D

During the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere we are unable to take in the recommended dose of Vitamin D from the sun alone. Vitamin D is so crucial to our bodies! It helps our bodies absorb calcium and without it bone density drops and muscles weaken, it can also make people feel tired and foggy. Since our skin can’t take in the vitamins from the sun it is essential to get it elsewhere. It can be found in many foods such as wild caught salmon, mushrooms, milk, cheese and eggs. Aside from adding these into my diet I also take a high-quality Vitamin D supplement throughout the winter, which has helped a great deal with brain clarity and fatigue.

8.) Still Get Sun!

Even though you aren’t taking in the Vitamin D from the sun through the winter I still recommend getting some sunshine through your day! A small walk with a loved one or with music on is a simple activity that will boost your well-being and happiness. I find that fresh air helps my productivity and my overall mood.

9.) Spend Time with Loved Ones

Create new traditions whether that be a dinner with friends every week, a board game competition or a movie night. No matter what make sure to spend time with friends and family over the winter. I know it is often difficult to get out and socialize during the winter, but it is SO important for you. Just a cup of coffee with a friend will make you feel better for days to come.

10.) Treat your Seasonal Depression

Seasonal depression affects about 20% of people and women are four times more likely to experience SAD than men are, so if you are experiencing signs of it, don’t feel alone! If you feel yourself getting in a rut over the winter months make time to spend on the tips above. Not getting enough Vitamin D can cause signs of SAD so I would first look at boosting these levels. It is so important to spend time with loved ones, EAT HEALTHY, and take time for self love during this time.

Winter can be a tough time for so many people. The motivation is low, the excuses are high but doing a few small things a day can dramatically increase your happiness and health! Learn to love the winter and of course, hygge.

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