After the winter holidays and their associated joys and challenges, people often feel the short days and long dark evenings of winter. Do you:
crave another cookie?
hit the snooze button each morning?
Even January’s resolve to commit to new resolutions can feel tougher to accomplish than you had thought.
Why does this happen?
Humans are wired to feel more like hibernating than hitting the gym this time of year. And with good reason. Consider your cave person alter ego. Years ago, finding food in the winter was much harder than driving to the local market. It required heading outdoors to find game or vegetation. And heading outdoors was life threatening in inclement weather.
So we are programmed to move less, store up calories, and sleep until Spring. Except that now we need to get to work, get the kids to their activities, and try to stay healthy and active. But how?
Doing what feels impossible helps.
-Keep regular hours as much as possible. Try to go to bed the same time most evenings and get up the same time most mornings.
-Open the window shades and get natural sunlight. Better yet, get outside. If you cannot get to Florida each month, then take a walk outside during your lunch break. Noonday sun is better than morning or evening sun. The higher the sun is in the horizon, the better the meaningful light exposure.
-Eat vegetables and fruits and proteins. Minimize or eliminate simple carbohydrates. Avoid cakes, cookies, processed sugars, and especially alcohol. These items make us feel tired.
-MOVE your body. Walk, run, dance.
Talk to your doctor and get a full physical if these simple changes do not help. Your doctor might recommend lab tests or suspect “seasonal affective disorder” in which case you might need more formal treatment.
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