Tag Archives: winter months

14 Easy Ways to Lift Your Spirits

To me, the winter months always seem to drag monotonously toward spring. The weather is cold, dreary and gloomy. I may not see the sun for days – or even weeks – at a time. Let’s just say I can get a bit grouchy during this time. (My family would probably say A LOT grouchy.)

You can find quick and simple ways to lift your spirits. Remember that true happiness doesn’t come from a paycheck, material goods or warm weather. A good part of the joy you find in life comes from finding easy ways to make yourself happy.

Here are 14 tips to help you lift your mood and boost your happiness level:

Drink coffee or tea in the morning
Regular, modest caffeine intake can help regulate your mood. Research shows that when you enjoy four cups of black tea a day it leads to fewer stress hormones being released. Or, if you’re more of a coffee person, you can drink a few cups of java. In fact, coffee has additional health benefits.

Spend time with friends
Good friends are good for you and your spirits. Your friends foster a feeling of belonging, purpose and boost your self esteem. Strong friendships can help keep you on a mentally even keel. Whether you get together for drinks or dinner, call on the phone or text about the ups and downs of your day, friends can improve your mood. Here are more reasons why we need friends.

Eat mood-boosting foods
To help boost your mood, you can eat foods that are naturally high in serotonin, such as walnuts, tomatoes, kiwi, bananas, sour cherries, plums and pineapple. Tryptophan is also a natural mood booster. Tryptophan is found in proteins, including turkey, fish, chicken, nuts, cheese, eggs, cottage cheese and beans. Learn more about foods to boost your mood.

Get a massage
Massage can be good for your physical and mental health. When you get a massage, your body releases endorphins. Massage also reduces stress hormones, lowers anxiety and raises your immunity. Shut out your surroundings and the chaos, relax and let some happiness seep into your day.

Break your routine
Sometimes I feel stuck in a rut. Get out of your regular routine, and your mood may lift with it. Go out for dinner on a Tuesday night instead of Friday. Have lunch at a new place once a week. Take a different route to work or wear something that is normally “not you.” A small change can make a bigger difference in your outlook for the day.

Open your shades
I have a huge picture window in my living room and then patio doors in my dining room. I like to leave the blinds shut in the winter because it helps cut down on the cold air. Yet, I realized it felt like I was living in a cave or dungeon. Make sure you open the shades in your bedroom, living room or office even when it’s cold. Studies show that morning light exposure can benefit your mood.

Take a walk outside
If you work in an office without windows or sun exposure, make sure you step outside a few times a day to soak up the sunshine. Even if it’s overcast, fresh air can help lift your spirits.

Bang on something
Researchers believe that drumming helps to relax the body. I personally think that kicking and punching things can help you feel better, too. You can use a punching bag or take a kickboxing class.

Clear the clutter
Disorganization can make me anxious. Clutter reminds us of the things we should be getting done but haven’t taken care of yet. For a quick fix, straighten up a few surfaces in your office or in the areas of your house where you spend the most time. Feeling more ordered in your personal spaces can help you feel more at ease and give you peace of mind. Here are some tips to organizing and decluttering.

Watch something funny
Studies show that a good laugh gets rid of stress, boosts your immunity, improves your heart function and lowers your blood pressure. A good chuckle can also keep blood sugar levels low and aids in better digestion. You can watch a comedic movie, a funny TV series or goofy YouTube videos. Laughter and even simply smiling can be good for your overall health.

Do a good deed
There is nothing like the act of giving to help us feel more appreciative of what we have and give us a mood boost. Do some research and find a group that could use your talents and skills. Learn more about the health benefits of doing good.

Indulge your senses
Sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile senses can quickly change your mood. Aromatherapy can be good for your health. Breathing in natural perfumed scents, such as lavender, can lift your spirits. Bake cookies and enjoy the yummy smells and warmth of the kitchen. Listen to soothing music. Soak in a scented bubble bath, or put flower arrangements around the house.

Give a kiss or hug
It’s a good feeling to be loved. Kiss your spouse, your kids or your mom. Smooching your significant other may even help reduce your cholesterol. You can cuddle up and watch TV together or give your family members and close friends a hug – just because. You can also hug and pet a furry friend to lower blood pressure and bring on a sense of calm.

Do something you love
You may like listening to music, dancing, taking photos, working on craft projects or tending a garden. You can even sit on your deck, take in nature or read a novel. To lift your spirits, make time to do something you enjoy – even if it’s just for 15 or 20 minutes.

Your mood goes a long way to helping you achieve a more balanced life. If you’re grouchy or feeling down, you may not have the motivation to exercise, eat right or hang out with friends. Take a few minutes each day to lift your spirits and appreciate the little things in life.

8 tips for winter health and safety

winter health and safety tipsAre you and your family prepared for winter? As I watch the weather reports showing another snowstorm crossing the country, it makes me think about what we can do to be safe and healthy this winter season.

Winter brings ice, snow and cold temperatures. It can also mean “snow days” with kids home from school and parents working from home.

Here are 8 health and safety tips to help you weather any ice or snowstorms this winter may bring your way:

Prepare for ice
Ice can snap electrical lines and cut off power for a few hours or even a few days. Make sure you have flashlights and batteries or a camping lantern that runs on batteries. It’s also good to have an emergency radio so you can listen to weather updates. If you live in an area with frequent storms, it can be worth investing in a generator so you can at least get enough power to have heat and a few lights.

You may want to have foods on hand you can eat without the need for cooking. Store salt or sand for icy and treacherous sidewalks.

Stock up on provisions
During the winter months, it’s a good idea to stock up on staples so that you have them available if you should be stuck at home for several days. Make sure you have long-lasting items like cereal, pasta, crackers, peanut butter, bread (you can keep it in the freezer), tuna, canned soup, nuts or trail mix. You should also keep your medicine filled for at least five days ahead, in case you are unable to get out for a few days.

Dig the board games out of the closet to entertain the kids and create some family fun. You can also do some baking together or come up with arts and crafts projects to do as a family. I still remember some of the snow days we spent at home when I was young.

Keep warm
Kids (and some adults) can be so excited by the prospect of playing in the snow, they don’t take the proper precautions. It’s important to layer. Multiple layers are better for preventing hypothermia than one big snowsuit. Cover everything the best you can – especially your head, hands and feet. Much of your body heat escapes from your head. Your hands and feet get cold quickly because they receive less blood flow than the main part of your body.

When kids start shivering, it’s time to go in and warm up. Hot chocolate is a great way to get them inside. If the skin turns pale, a light gray color or becomes numb or blistered-looking, you may have superficial frostbite. It’s time to get inside. You can apply something warm (but not hot) like a heating pad or warm water to the affected area. If the numbness persists, you may need to get medical attention.

Play it safe
Winter sports – such as ice hockey, skiing, snowboarding and even sledding – can be dangerous. The two most common winter sports’ injuries are bruised, broken or sprained limbs and head injuries. It’s important to have the proper equipment, and even head gear. Make sure the equipment is the right size and skill level for your child. Also, know you and your child’s limitations. Adults can also be injured when they forget their age or skill level.

Drive carefully
Winter months bring snow, ice and more driving during dark conditions. You should take steps to be prepared for winter driving. Many people think you can drive the speed limit in any conditions. You should slow down if the road is at all hazardous. Increase the distance between you and the car in front of you. You have more room if you or the other car should lose control.

Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Make sure your car is clear of ice and snow before you drive, including the roof. Snow can fall on the front or back window while you’re driving. Also check that your headlights and taillights are visible.

Winter workouts
Fit in your exercise routine even during the winter months. You may need to find creative ways to workout at home if you are snowed in for a few days. Bundling up and going for a walk is great exercise, especially when walking through snow. You can shovel the driveway or sled down a hill with the kids. Again, be sure to know your limitations. It can be easy to push yourself too much in cold weather.

Boost your skin care
Winter weather can wreak havoc on your skin. You may need to find a winter moisturizer that’s oil-based to help create a protective layer and keep moisture in your skin. If your house gets dry in the winter, you can use a humidifier to put moisture back into the air and prevent your skin from drying out. You may want to ban burning hot baths and showers – they can take the moisture out of your skin.

If you find yourself getting stressed by the bad weather, change of routine and a little too much “togetherness,” take a few minutes each day to meditate. The simple act of banishing thoughts, focusing on your breathing and repeating a single word or phrase can start up your body’s natural relaxation response. Reducing your stress levels is good for the mind, body and soul!

With a little preparation, you can be ready for anything the winter months bring your way. Be safe and healthy this winter!

8 tips to beating the winter blues

how to beat the winter bluesI have lived in the Midwest my entire life. I love the change of seasons: spring brings rainstorms and blossoming flowers while fall offers the beauty of colorful leaves and a nip in the air.

About January, I usually start wishing I lived somewhere sunny and tropical. I begin to long for warm breezes, green grass and flip flops. Right now, I get up in the dark to put my kids on the school bus, and it’s dark by the time we finish dinner. I feel tired, grumpy and have very little motivation.

So, what can we do to beat the winter blues? Here are 8 tips to boost your energy level and lift your spirits during the winter:

Soak up some sun
I don’t like to be cold. So, in the winter months, I hibernate in the house. However, exposure to natural sunlight can improve your mood. There is a scientific reason why you might feel blue during the winter. Lack of sunlight reduces the amount of serotonin we produce. This hormone makes you feel happy. Try to spend some time outside in the sunshine every day.

I have a huge window in my living room that faces to the west. I am not sure if it has the same effect, but I enjoy sitting on the floor in the sun. It warms me up and makes me feel like I am soaking up the sun.

Keep up the exercise routine
It is tempting to lie around and wallow in the winter blahs. It can be hard to get motivated to exercise. In the long run though, exercise will help your mood and improve your outlook. That’s because exercise can raise your serotonin levels just like sunlight. So even better, spend time outside in the sun and go for a bike ride, play street hockey, ice skate, jog or simply take a walk.

Fuel up with healthy foods
Beware of the munchies. When your serotonin levels are low, your body may crave foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as sugary foods and soda. Loading up on sugar will only make you feel more blue when it wears off. Stick to your healthy eating habits, and include as many fruits and vegetables as you can.

Spend time with friends
You may get in a rut and want to hole up in your house. Brave the cooler temps and get out and do something. Meet up with friends for coffee or dinner. Spending time with friends has so many benefits. Or, plan a get together with your family. I know having people over to my house energizes me to clean and create fun snacks. Something as simple as calling a friend can also help brighten your day – and theirs!

Get plenty of sleep
We have talked about the importance of getting enough sleep in previous blogs. Try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, but don’t sleep too much. Both too little and too much sleep can affect your mood. A short nap (15 – 30 minutes) can also help re-energize you during the day. Naps may also help you live longer!

Pamper yourself
What feels like a luxury to you? Soaking in a hot bubble bath, drinking a cup of hot tea, or watching the big game on TV with friends or family? Find ways to give yourself a little treat that will perk up your spirits.

Plan something fun
Come up with a fun activity you can do next week. Maybe it’s taking your kids to a movie or planning a lunch date with a friend. Then, think about making plans for something you can look forward to. Schedule a fun activity for the spring when the weather warms up. Or, start looking into locations for a summer vacation. Sometimes the planning and anticipation can be half the fun!

Look forward to spring
Start thinking about things you can do when spring arrives. You may want to create a new flower bed. It may be time to purchase patio furniture to spruce up your outdoor living space. You could think about new routes for bicycling or places to go hiking. These activities can help you get geared up for a fun and healthy spring!

Do you notice a difference in your mood during the winter months? What do you do to fight off the winter blues?