Winter can be one of the most difficult seasons for us to maintain health. The combination of the cold weather and long nights dissuade many of us from exercising and instead we choose to remain in the warmth of our homes, often in front of the television. Christmas and the festive season can prevent many of us from remaining healthy, with the temptation to fall into poor eating habits and to overindulge in food and drink.
Winter can also be a testing time for us, both mentally and spiritually. In recent times the medical community have recognised Seasonal Affective Disorder, a mood disorder in which people who experience normal health throughout the year experience depressive symptoms during the winter months. The festive period in particular, can have an adverse effect on our minds and souls, with the pressure to keep up with the high expectations of a modern Christmas causing many to experience unnecessary stress.
While it is completely natural for our moods and energy levels to alternate in tune with the seasons, we need not allow our health and fitness to slacken over the colder months and there are many practices we can do to keep our health levels up over the winter.
Exercise It is important to remember that maintaining a regular exercise regime is still as much of a necessity in winter as in other months. While the long nights and cold weather will naturally dissuade many people from exercising, we can still engage through more indoor based exercises. Winter can also provide the opportunity to try new exercise practices, such as weight training or Pilates.
Nutrition Winter is also seen by many as the season to be overindulgent and it is not uncommon for people to give up on healthy eating during the festive period. While the temptation to eat to excess is admittedly incredibly high at this time of year, it is possible to enjoy the festivities without going to extremes. This means restricting yourself to smaller portions of the unhealthy options on your Christmas dinner table and counterbalancing this by eating lots of fruits and vegetables that are high in fibre, such as lentils, black beans, blackberries, avocadoes, pears and yes, brussels sprouts.
Alcohol Keeping one’s drinking in check is also a good way to remain healthy during the Christmas period and doing so could actually have numerous advantages. Firstly, by helping allow you to travel around safely and cheaply with your friends and loved ones by freeing yourself up as a designated driver. This also saves you the embarrassment of being the ‘drunk one’ at your office Christmas party.
Mind It is important to remember not to get too wrapped up with the stress and hysteria that has become part of modern Christmas. Ultimately, material gifts only have the potential to better your lives at a material level. An excellent way to fight the effects of SAD is to choose to focus on the festive season as a period in which to spend time with loved ones and to reflect on the positivity in our lives as the calendar year draws to a close.
Overall, it is important to acknowledge the way our bodies work in tandem with seasons, and the lack of natural light during the winter months is nature’s way of telling us to slow down and restore our vital energy. Meditate well, eat healthily, stay active and enjoy this season to be jolly.
For more information on staying healthy over Christmas, watch my video.