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When the days begin to grow darker and shorter, it's very easy to find a cosy spot and hibernate for the winter. But, this year, rather than wasting a perfectly good season, it's time to get up, get moving, and prove that just because it's slow and sleepy outside, doesn't mean you should be.
The other side effect of winter is the lack of vitamin D, which can lead to a lower mood and lack of energy. So, instead of seeing winter as a write-off, or an excuse to feel miserable, get those runners on, it's time to get that body warmed up. We explore 5 of the best ways to look and feel better during the chilliest time of year, and how you can beat the winter blues.
Whilst summer can bring a renewed sense of appreciation for exercise, and routine, with the long, languid evenings, giving you plenty of time to fit your after work class in, and an endless parade of warm, sunny blue days inviting you to get outside and move your body, winter can feel quite the opposite.
The crisp, brisk mornings make it much easier to pull the covers over your head and sink back into the warm cocoon you've made yourself, and with the shortened days, by the time you finish up your 9 to 5, the sky is blanketed in a velvety navy, urging you to go home.
And, with the addition of plummeting temperatures, it makes it that much more difficult to tell yourself it'll be worth it to get exercising. So, the answer to this seasonal dilemma is to switch up your schedule and get yourself into a new class that gets the blood pumping.
Chuck on the boxing gloves for a more exhilarating and fun twist on your usual cardio, that boxing provides. This fast paced fitness routine is great for you in a multitude of ways, not only does it aid weight loss, but it also increases strength, so no matter what your personal goals are, boxing will get you there, before the leaves begin to return to trees.
However, physical goals are not the only benefits to this heavyweight champion of the exercise arena. Boxing aids stress relief, which is particularly integral in the dreary wintery months when problems can feel a little more difficult to shake off. As an added bonus, the fast paced, high-intensity nature of boxing will keep things fun and exciting, so you're unlikely to snooze your alarm when you've got this waiting in the morning.
Sometimes, it's the simplest things make a world of difference, and that has never been truer in the case of getting out and going for a walk. This activity costs no money, requires no equipment, and is devoid of opening hours, so there is simply no excuse not to do it.
A mental health walk is so integral in breaking up your day and taking some dedicated time for yourself. It gets your body moving and allows you time to simply slow down and breathe and either reflect on your day or simply tune out with some tunes. Whilst it may be chilly out, a good puffer jacket and some thermal leggings will keep you cosy as you wander through your surrounding neighbourhood streets, a park or really wherever you'd like to take yourself.
Studies have shown that consistent walking increases your overall energy levels, as well as assists your sleeping habits and boosts your mood and brain habits, so along with the obvious fitness benefits that come from consistently getting your ten thousand steps in, there are mental benefits too. This healthy habit is one way to beat a case of seasonal sads.
Sometimes, in order to get your body into a good place, you have to get your mind there first. No exercise is going to stay consistent if you constantly feel negative, stressed, and are consistently forcing yourself to go, without any change in your mindset. So, before you take care of your physical self, you must take care of your mental self.
During the winter, the dark and cold weather can induce seasonal affective disorder, which can colloquially be known as "winter depression". Some symptoms include a consistently low mood and added irritability as well as a strong lack of energy.
Whilst a plethora of factors are needed to combat this, meditation can be a major component in getting it under control. There are a multitude of apps, programs and websites that you can use in order to guide you through your moment of quiet contemplation.
Taking this time of consideration can help to lower anxiety and increase your self-awareness so that you can understand yourself a little better, and prevent future mental build up. This will take you into summer, feeling better, more confident and comfortable knowing you have tactics to help you during times of emotional internal unrest.
If you're ever feeling unduly frustrated, or making silly decisions or mistakes that seem out of character for you, you may need to re-examine what your sleep schedule has been like. Whilst people tend to know when they've been sleeping too little, this is not the only culprit when it comes to bad sleeping patterns.
Other offenders include inconsistency, getting to sleep too early, and then waking on and off, or even sleeping for too long. Ensure that you're getting your eight hours at an hour that is appropriate each evening, so that you feel well rested come morning time, rather than sluggish and lethargic.
Improved sleeping habits benefit your physical and emotional health, and overall appearance, sleeping too little can give the increased appearance of sunken and heavy under eye circles as well as a higher risk of developing acne. So, ensure you're getting your eight hours of a proper night's rest, so that come summer, you've solidified these healthy habits.
Of course, this wouldn't be a list on how to feel and look your best if it didn't include a point on your eating habits. You shouldn't be listening to fad diets or restricting yourself until you're miserable, fuelling your body with healthy and fresh food will bring up your energy levels, and aid the exercise you're doing so that you aren't left on the floor, exhausted, by the time the class ends. It will also improve your physicalities, as inconsistent or overtly unhealthy eating habits can lead to acne and bloating.
The rule of thumb is moderation. Feed yourself fresh produce and food filled with iron and protein for your health, and when you feel like it, indulge in those delicious foods that bring you unbridled joy. Food is to be enjoyed, so don't rob yourself of that and cause yourself to be miserable.
Whilst winter is chilly and grey, it doesn't mean that it should be a season to write off as a failure and wait for the brighter days ahead, those days are now, just in a slightly cooler colour palette. So by treating your body, with the love and respect it deserves, you'll find that you'll transform mentally and physically. So, get out there and move those legs, and mend your mind, just don't forget to wear a jacket.