CopingResiliencySelf-care

Getting Through the Last of Winter

Sunset

Here in eastern Iowa, we have had a huge March snow, with a likely April snow ahead. The winter has been long, and many of us are feeling it. Given that we can’t control (or even reliably predict) the weather, especially here in Iowa, here are a few tips for pushing through until the warmth finally arrives.

If there is a peek of sun, get out in it!

The sunlight helps us regulate sleep, is implicated in our moods, and helps us absorb the vitamins we need. It is rare that we see a lot of sun in the winter, and when we do, it can be so cold that all of our skin is covered to protect us from frostbite. In the middle of winter, there is little we can do about this without freezing. However, in the spring, we might reach a high enough temperature that you’d be okay with a little bit of skin showing outside. Take a walk over your lunch hour, and (if you’re not too cold!) roll up your sleeves and absorb a little.

If you can’t get a peek of sun, consider getting a sun lamp

tree

You may have a job that does not allow you the flexibility to be out in the middle of the day. Or, there may be days (or several days, at times) when there really is no sunlight to be seen. When this happens, it might be good to have a little boost from a different source. There are affordable options for lamps that mimic sunlight, and they can help you with those same things that the sun would, including both energy and mood benefits. See this article from WebMD for more information.

Even if it’s cold, get out of the house if you can

Most of us don’t do well if we are stuck indoors for long periods of time. We start to get a little cabin fever, feeling stuck, irritable, low energy, and restless. Unfortunately, these same symptoms that may result from being stuck indoors become the very things that make it difficult to get out. Work hard to counteract these, and make a point to get outside. Bundle up, shovel some snow, take a walk, play with kids and pets, just get yourself out of the house (or office) for a bit!

If you really are stuck in, get moving indoors

There are a vast number of exercise videos of all different types and difficulties on YouTube. If you’re not up for that level of exercise, take a trip up and down the stairs, play fetch or tug of war with a pet, run around with the kids, or find something to do that at least has you on your feet! When we’re stuck inside and feeling lethargic, the couch starts to look (and feel) awfully good. You’ll probably have to put in a little extra effort to get yourself up, but it might be a nice change of pace and help lift your mood and energy a little bit.

In the winter (at least here in the Midwest) we don’t get sun. We move less. We are stuck indoors. We slow down, and often feel sluggish. It means that our bodies don’t get what they need to absorb our vitamins, and often, our bodies don’t get the movement they need. Psychologically, we also get less variety in our days, and can feel trapped or restless from so much time in the same place. While it takes more energy to get up and moving, it can help both your body and your mind feel better, and might help you endure these last few weeks of lingering Midwest winter.

Photos compliments of @duluthtough.  https://www.instagram.com/duluthtough/

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