Samantha McCready
Samantha McCready
November 14, 2019

Keeping a Healthy Routine During the Winter Months

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Have you been feeling increasingly unmotivated recently? Does the weather often have a strong impact on your health?

As the winter months are quickly approaching, I notice that I tend to fall into a cold weather “funk.” I want to stay inside more, I have less energy and my motivation to keep a healthy regular routine (almost) flatlines. 

Basically, I want to ride out the gloomy weather and lack of sunlight until spring in the comfort of my own bed and blankets watching Netflix—so I end up a slightly less threatening grizzly bear in hibernation. 

Because so many people are driven indoors due to the cold and lack of regular daylight, it’s understandable that we aren’t motivated to be focused on our physical and mental health. 

In fact, an estimated two to three per cent of Canadians suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder every year. SAD is a type of depressive disorder that is related to changes in seasons, with symptoms typically emerging during late fall or early winter. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder heavily impacts our desire to keep on top of our everyday health routines in the cold months. 

Laura Davis, a third-year STU student, experiences anxiety along with changes in her mood due to the weather. Davis believes that the school semester progression is “where most mental health issues start to emerge.”

That, in addition to being sensitive to the weather, makes winter depressing and stressful for Davis and many other students. Now that she manages her mental health effectively, she experiences fewer problems during the winter months. 

“I force myself to exercise regularly, and I try my best to eat healthy and avoid Skip the Dishes. It’s the small things that really make the difference for me,” said Davis. 

This year, in my final year as an undergraduate student, I told myself that I would try to change this pattern that I fall into and use new techniques to tackle my overall disinterest in maintaining a healthy routine. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to argue with experts—we do, in fact, need vitamin D from the sun and we don’t get enough of it during the colder months. 

Skating, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, or whatever Canadian activity it may be, find a pretty place to post your Instagram photo, take advantage of the ability to get moving and find something that will give you joy. 

Many forms of exercise release endorphins in the brain, which can induce a positive body feeling. 

Another popular remedy for the winter blues is light therapy, which uses a type of lamp that mimics natural light and can shift the brain’s chemical levels such as serotonin and melatonin, which influence mood and sleep patterns. 

It can be really hard to muster up the desire to break a sweat or eat better when the weather is less than desirable. But I’ve noticed that I always feel better about doing something, rather than nothing. 

My mood, no matter the temperature outside or the amount of light in the sky, always improves after I do something active and positive for my overall well-being and health.

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