One thing most people can agree with is how much easier it is to get out and stay active when the weather is warmer and the daylight is longer. If you’re feeling like the dark days of winter are keeping you from achieving your goals, here are some tips to banish the blues and stay on track!
1. Try something new
Fast Company says “Trying something new is a great way to tackle the lack of motivation that can result from the seasonal blues.” It can be harder to stick with the same old routine if it’s harder to accomplish in the winter because of cold or darkness. If you’re a runner trying to stick with a fitness schedule after work, instead of getting bored of racking up the miles on a treadmill, try a new form of cardio. Whether it is a spin class or a dance class, changing up your routine can help you stay on track with your fitness goals throughout the winter until there’s enough daylight to get back outside.
2. Involve friends and family
In addition to trying something new, adding new people to your wellness routine can be the hit of motivation that you need. If you’re an expert at the gym, offer to bring a friend along and help them get started on their own fitness goals. Looking for new healthy recipes to lose weight? Set up a recipe exchange and support group among your family members and friends who have similar goals. Even one accountability partner can make your daily goals easier to achieve. Usually, showing up or getting started is the hardest part. Knowing someone is waiting for you or will ask you about your goals that day can be the best incentive to take the first step.
3. Set a short-term goal to work towards
If your goal is to run a marathon next summer, you likely already have a training plan set up with short term mileage goals. If you’re the kind of person who has “go to the gym” on their daily planner without any real goals in mind, it can get much harder to venture out into the cold darkness. Setting goals, whether they come in the form of miles, minutes, reps or even a competition, helps your brain see the benefit of daily attendance. Rather than say “I’ll go to the gym 4 days a week”, write down an achievable goal to meet during the month of January. Some people challenge themselves to walk a certain distance over the course of the month or set a new personal best at their sport. Whatever your activity, you can improve your chances of sticking with it if you give yourself something to work towards.
4. Treat yourself and eat mindfully
Most people agree that during the holidays is a terrible time to try and diet. “Cheating” with food at parties or other social functions can start a negative spiral that lasts well into the new year. Rather than thinking of a treat as “cheating”, allow yourself to enjoy enough food to not feel deprived, but stay dedicated to the reason you are making better food choices. Whether you want to lose weight or have other health goals, it is important to plan ahead to minimize the risk of going overboard. Eat before you go to a cocktail party and allow yourself a treat and one glass of wine. Bring along a healthy option to share at a potluck.
If you don’t find a balance between indulging and being dedicated, you may end up feeling deprived, which can lead to binging. And binging can lead to guilt which will take you down a path that takes you further from your goals. Find a way to balance indulging with staying on track, you will accomplish your goals because you won’t ever feel deprived.
5. Brighten someone else’s day
If you find yourself hiding out from winter and counting the days until summer, one big way you can perk yourself up is to do something for someone else. Turning our attention outward helps us focus on something bigger than ourselves, and a simple act of kindness can have a ripple effect that improves many lives. If you have kids, involve them in planning an act of kindness for one of their friends. Help someone do something that you are good at. Skip your second trip to Starbucks and give $5 to someone who needs it. Once you start to look for ways to brighten someone else’s day, it becomes a habit and keeps you out of the winter blahs.
If you’d like some help to start a new health and wellness plan, we would love to help! As a direct primary care provider, we can work with you to design a healthy eating plan, give you some inspiration for increasing activity, and set your sights on achieving your goals all year long.