Winter in Canada can be a polarizing time. Some of us can’t wait for the arrival of the snowy season to commence our favourite wintertime activities, while some of us miserably dread the return of the cold. Whatever side of the spectrum you find yourself on, we can all agree that it’s quite easy to feel fatigued during the cold, dark winter months. And, while our four to six months of winter are unavoidable, winter fatigue doesn’t have to be!
Here are some ideas to help you stay mentally and physically invigorated this winter.
It can be hard using what little energy you have to leave the warmth of your house and head to the gym, but the trade-off is so worth it! Spending energy by physically exerting yourself reduces stress hormones making you feel more energized. Maintaining your exercise routine is a proven way of keeping your summertime joy regardless of the weather. My favourite physical activity, especially in the colder seasons, is hot yoga. It’s like a trip to a tropical island without the hassle and expense of actually travelling. You get to throw on a pair of shorts, quiet your thoughts, and spend an hour exerting energy at your own pace in a warm place. Also, all of the hot yoga studios I’ve been to are really laid back -- so, if I want to, I can just lay on my mat (pretending I’m on a sunny beach) whenever I’d like during class. Once the class is over, you’ll probably be so warm that you can ditch at least one layer and feel invincible as you invite the crisp winter air to cool your warmed skin.
Find Your Own Sunshine
For many of us, their winter dreariness is due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which occurs mostly during seasons with less sunlight. Thankfully, as depression becomes less stigmatic, there are more and more treatment options that are becoming available for people who suffer from SAD. I’ve heard amazing things about light therapy being used to stimulate happy hormones, but an even cheaper and more holistic route to staying enlivened during winter is to ensure that your Vitamin D levels are normal. There is research to indicate that low blood levels of vitamin D contribute to that feeling of fatigue we commonly face during the winter months.
Since I live in Newfoundland, which receives few hours of sunlight (especially during winter), I’ll be supplementing my family’s and my Vitamin D intake with Progressive Nutritional’s Sunshine Burst Vitamin D.
Start a Winter Hobby
All the people I know who really enjoy the snowy weather are, uncoincidentally, people who also partake in winter hobbies. My three year old cannot wait for the snow to fall because she’s so excited to make snow angels and throw snowballs. While you’ll be hard-pressed to find a group of adults having a snowball fight, there are tons of winter hobbies to keep you lively through the winter, from snowboarding and skiing to heading to your local rec centre for a weekly pick-up hockey game. Winter hobbies like these are great ways to help you stay active, but they also help you learn to appreciate all the positives that the cold weather has to offer. If you prefer to keep warm, your winter hobbies don’t necessarily need to be physically strenuous or based outside. You can use the extra time indoors to learn how to bake, to become a better chef or even to host a knitting circle where you donate your creations. More than anything, hobbies help you to build community whether it’s through helping others with your craft donations or making and building friendships by meeting regularly to skate around your neighbourhood park. These social connections are what we as humans need to remain positive and upbeat, especially during the months when it can be easier to isolate ourselves.
Eat and Drink Well
With all the celebrations around Christmas and New Year’s, it’s really easy (and delicious!) to become overindulgent even when lots of sugary foods and alcohol make us quite lethargic. Though it may be cold and grey outside, keeping our plates as colourful as possible is still important to ensure we get as much energy as we can from a well-balanced diet even when we indulge in treats. Depending on where you are in the true north, those colourful foods may be more or less inaccessible, so Progressive’s Vegegreens Multi and Phytoberry Multi are great sources of vitamins and minerals that we need to stay energetic and healthy. Since our bodies have the tools it needs to keep our systems strong, we’ll feel stronger, healthier and more full of life. Committing to supplementing your nutritional needs is also a great way of adding more water to your daily diet, which is something you need to continuously clear your system and transport all of those energy-giving nutrients throughout your bloodstream.
Remember, it takes energy to make energy. So as hard as it may be when the weather outside is frightful, take the time and effort to stay active, stay social and take care of yourself from the inside out. It will make a world of difference in how you feel year-round.
-- Written by Melissa Williams
Melissa is a yoga student and teacher from Kingston, Jamaica currently residing in St. John’s Newfoundland. She is fascinated by anatomy and is an advocate of building mental health through open and honest communication. When she isn’t daydreaming, she’s busy chasing her toddler daughter. You can find Melissa on Instagram.