Well, 2020 has passed and with it all of our troubles…wrong. Unfortunately, the pandemic rages on in much of the developed world and this time, many of us do not have the spring and summer weather to at least give us some break from reality. Many of our winter activities are prohibited or at best, a fraction of what they were pre-virus. No socializing, no office banter, no travel and worse, no warm weather to assist us in some “approved” outdoor activities. So, let’s look at some ways to help fight the winter blues.
1. Go outside. It’s cold, the days are short and there is not much to do outside. We get it. But, barring terrible weather, it is still extremely helpful both mentally and physically to get some outdoor time everyday. We try to spend at least 10 minutes outside per day and often, that is just a quick walk around the neighborhood. Get a little sun, breathe some natural air and get away from your screens. Try to make this a part of your routine and we guarantee you will feel better.
2. Take “screen breaks.” Chances are that unless you are working a physical job, you are staring at screens more now than ever. Even during your off time, you are likely staring at screens for recreation. All of that blue light and focus on computers and televisions is simply just not great for your eyes nor your mental health. Not to mention the content on social media these days can also be enough to drive anyone into a depression. So, we try and take at least a 5 to 10 minute break from screens every 60 to 90 minutes. Walk around, do some bodyweight squats or, just have a cup of tea or glass of water. But take breaks.
3. Get physical once per day. Exercise does not have to be a drenching sweat or a heavy weightlifting session. While we do think those programs are important (when followed properly), we just want you to move daily. 30 minutes per day of moderate activity can have a fantastic impact on your mental and physical well-being. Chances are, you are not stressing or thinking about things that make you anxious during this time and also, it is a time for you to burn off some negative energy. Bodyweight exercises are great to get in on a daily routine if you do not follow a more formal exercise program. Squats, push ups, core exercises etc. Just put in a little bit of time daily and see how it impacts you.
4. Be careful with your artificial light. Much of the residential world is now lit up via energy saving lighting in the form of LEDs. Well, many people do not know but nearly all LEDs use blue light to create white light. Yes, the same blue light that is in your smart phone or your television. While this light has its positives, it also has some draw backs as well. There are studies that show it can play games with the body’s natural rhythms such as keeping you awake at night, disrupting sleep patterns etc. So, just be a bit sensitive to your light sources that you may be using at all hours of the day. Perhaps sitting under the white LED light a couple hours before bed is not the best idea. You may benefit more from a warmer color or a traditional incandescent light. On the contrary, there are light sources out there that are designed to help with seasonal depression. They simulate sunlight and can be used to help your body at least feel like it is getting some sun. Either way, pay attention to the light you surround yourself with on a daily basis.
5. Stay in touch with the outside world. While we may be relegated to our own homes and unable to see people face to face, it does not mean we should shut ourselves off to the outside. Social interaction is so important for your mental health. Even a 5 minute chat with a friend or loved one can make you feel connected and not alone in these strange times. While technology has added many negatives to society, it has also made it so easy to keep in touch. You can chat face to face with anyone in the world through so many different apps and nearly all of them are free. Schedule time to say hello and catch up. Do not just rely on the impersonal communication of email or text. Talk to people, see each other. And one day hopefully soon, we will all be able to reunite in the bars, restaurants, gyms and dojos.