We all know the feeling—the deeper we get into winter, the more sluggish we become. Soon, we’re sleeping all the time, ignoring our skin and workout routines, snacking on rich, comfort foods, and barely venturing out in the cold. The general lethargy seems ceaseless…but we don’t have to settle for the same lull every year!
Understanding why our bodies slow down during the winter and utilizing ideas to jolt ourselves out of that funk can help fight the winter wasteland! We want you to live the life of your dreams and feel your best, inside and out. Here are our tried and true tactics to jumpstart yourself out of winter hibernation, and maybe even avoid the next one altogether! But first—
Why do our bodies slow down during winter?
The two main factors that contribute to the wintertime lag are shorter days and lack of sun exposure, and yes, they are closely related.
Shorter days lead to less active time. For many of us, the rising and setting sun dictates when we get going with our day, and when we slow it down. During the winter, we lose some of that functional daylight time. When our bodies aren’t exposed to light, our melatonin production increases. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates our internal clock, so suddenly, that clock gets out of whack.
In addition, direct sunlight on our skin starts our body’s production of vitamin D, which acts like a hormone, aiding in the regulation of mood, energy, and immune function. Now, we only need ten minutes a day of direct sunlight to produce a full day’s worth of vitamin D; but during a cold, dark winter, that can be more difficult than you’d think. Frigid temperatures and shortened days tend to keep us inside, and sunlight doesn’t have the same reaction with our skin when it comes in through the window.
Impeded sun exposure leads to fatigue. Lack of energy can lead to less activity, and the more sedentary we become, the less effort we put into diet and self-care. Combined with our recent rise in isolation and stress, depression and anxiety can become exacerbated as well.
There’s also a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This common mood disorder is caused by a lack of sunlight. Symptoms include listlessness, lack of motivation, fatigue, etc. For a more thorough description, see the Mayo Clinic’s description here and reach out to your general practitioner if you suspect you have it.
Now that we know the why, let’s talk about how to get away from those winter blues and battle them next year. Implementing any of these simple steps should show improvements in your mood and energy. Using all ten will change your life! Let’s get started—
1. Let the light in
You’ve got to get light as early and often as you can. Natural light stops the body’s production of melatonin, allowing your circadian rhythm to regulate. Open up the blinds as soon as you awaken, keep your living and working spaces as bright and airy as possible. Then, get outside! Light through the window might stop melatonin production, but the glass blocks the rays that lead to the creation of vitamin D. Make sure to get at least 10 minutes of fresh air on your face per day. And don’t worry, the necessary rays get through the clouds. Even on an overcast day, make sure to get your outdoor time because you’re still benefiting from those vital beams!
2. Get moving
Exercise often and early, if you can. Morning exercise helps you to wake up and it also regulates your circadian rhythm, helping you to get the rest you need. Try at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. Step outside for a walk and get your rays at the same time! Or do short bursts throughout the day. Whatever works for you also works for your body.
3. “Put on your own mask first, before assisting others.”
Yes, we’re talking about self-care. Taking care of yourself is what this list is all about, but here are some more specific ways to put in that self-care time: create a morning routine that is all about nurturing yourself and your needs (journal, meditation, exercise, reading, etc.), spend some time observing gratitude, write down and visualize your goals, and take time out, each day, to do something that brings you joy. Whatever it takes to soothe your soul, that’s the self-care you need to incorporate into your practice.
4. Take a deep breath and….relax…
It’s de-stressing time. It is completely necessary to reserve time specifically for letting go of stress. Whether that requires meditation, massage, cleaning/organizing/decluttering areas of your home or life, a rejuvenating facial, or an enlightening Reiki session, make an appointment or set aside some time to focus on releasing all your worries and anxieties. You’ll notice that letting go of that weight will immediately give you added energy and effortless contentment.
5. Tickle the senses
Finding balance isn’t just about being quiet and reflective, it is also about stimulating every aspect of yourself! Consider living richly through all your senses by surrounding yourself with —
- Intoxicating smells- lavender oil, fresh flowers, jasmine candles, etc.
- Soothing sounds- put together a good mood playlist
- Soft touches- fleecy blankets, fluffy towels, fuzzy sweatpants, and cushiony pillows
- Bright sights- bring the light inside by painting your walls or simply decluttering your space
- Flavorful tastes- colorful, rich, diverse food and drink
Exciting your body and mind lets you live fully and vibrantly, and when we can do that, nothing will be able to slow us down again.
6. Eat the right things
Eat well! Make sure your plate is colorful with plenty of fruits and veggies. And lay off the sugar, which gives only short bursts of energy followed by lethargy. Opt instead for energy-producing foods like eggs, lean meats, liver, sardines and oysters, berries, avocado, legumes, and don’t forget the water!
If you are having trouble meeting your needs for vitamin D, try going the supplement route. Make sure that you are taking D3, as it most closely resembles the body’s natural production. And take a magnesium supplement as well, which not only aids in the activation of vitamin D but helps to reduce stress and relax muscles, improving mood and sleep.
7. Get up, get out, get someone
It’s time to socialize. Of course, that’s been hard over the last couple of years, but we’ve developed plenty of ways to keep connected to friends and loved ones. Utilize them! Having someone to talk to eases our stress and anxiety and seeing the world from someone else’s perspective broadens our scope. As the weather warms, it’ll be even easier to get out there and meet with people, but start now. Personal connection is integral to our humanity.
8. Try something new!
Try something new to engage and focus your mind. Get excited about a new hobby, class, excursion, or project. Try anything, really! All new experiences stimulate the brain, forming stronger connections between cells and improving cognitive function. Have you wanted to learn how to play the guitar, sew, cross-country ski, or have you always wanted to volunteer for your community? Whatever it is, it’s going to help inspire you and give you confidence and energy.
9. Set yourself up to achieve
Write down a couple of small goals every day and then check them off your list! Whether these are simple tasks or steps along the path to a greater objective, each success builds up your self-worth and determination. Make sure these aims are attainable and don’t start with too many at a time. We’re not looking to set ourselves up for failure, but for success. Each goal attained will contribute to a foundation of capability that will propel us onto the next exciting possibility!
Get plenty of sleep! It is the fountain of youth and will do wonders for your mood, skin, focus, and so on. 7–9 hours per night is best (we don’t actually need more sleep in the winter!). And make sure to observe proper sleep habits—
- Go to sleep & get up at the same times every day
- Shut off all your devices at least an hour before lights out
- Create a relaxing bedtime space (soothing lavender sprays, uncluttered, quiet, and dark)
It’s time to get up and get healthy!
The healthier our minds and bodies are, the easier it will be to withstand the winter cruelty. By following some, or all, of these steps, you are setting yourself on a path to whole happiness. Every step is important, every step is an accomplishment! Reading this and being here is your first—we’re so proud of you!
*Be aware that if your fatigue is persistent, you need to see your general practitioner to investigate the possibility of a health condition.
How can we help?
Advanced Skin + Body Aesthetics wants to help you feel your best, inside and out. We’re here to help you kick those winter blues right out the door! If you’re looking for a spa in Lincoln, NE for relaxing facials and inspiring Reiki, contact us today for an appointment! Let’s all get back into happiness and health!
For more on all things Lincoln aesthetics, check out our blogs Reiki: What is it? And how can it help me? and How to Care for Winter-battered Skin. Check out our variety of Lincoln facials here: Signature Facial, GeneO+ Facial, and DiamondGlow™ Facial. We also provide Lincoln waxing, CoolSculpting, dermaplaning, chemical peels, and more!