10 Dec Fun Activities to Help Combat the “Winter Blues”
It’s a jolly time of year for many people, but let’s be real–not everyone feels this way all the time. The days are shorter, the days are darker, and they’re most definitely colder. You may be feeling a bit…blue.
Winter Blues, otherwise known as “seasonal depression” (or Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD), is a real thing. SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in the seasons. Basically, it’s a mood disorder relating to a reduction of light. Most people with SAD show symptoms beginning in the fall and continuing into the winter months. Typical symptoms include feeling sluggish, insomnia, lack of interest in daily activities, changes in your appetite, inability to focus, weight gain, and mood swings.
SAD affects between 4-6% of Americans, while another 10-20% will experience a milder version. 60%-90% of those who experience SAD are women. In fact, women (ages 18-55) are four times more likely to develop it than men.
Don’t fret if you fall within those statistics. Here are two things for you to look forward to:
- Winter Solstice, or the shortest day of the year with the least amount of sunlight, is Friday, December 21. Once you get past this day, your days will start getting longer again.
- An effective holistic remedy for SAD is regular exercise. When you exercise, you raise the endorphins in your body–helping you feel happier. Endorphins help fight your feelings of sadness and anxiety, and help you focus more.
And since we can’t lengthen the days, we’ve come up with a few fun activities this winter to help you get movin’ and get some good exercise–in turn helping you combat your SAD symptoms:
1. Enjoy Some Music
As Buddy the Elf says, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” Crank on the iPod and speakers and dance away. Whether it’s Christmas music or Hip Hop, it doesn’t matter! Dancing is a great aerobic exercise that helps improve your endurance, tone your muscles, and strengthen your heart and lungs.
You may even consider caroling in your neighborhood, a retirement home, or a hospital. You’d be surprised how much exercise you can get from walking from house to house, or room to room.
2. Play in the Snow
Don’t be a Scrooge when it snows. Remember the good ol’ days when you used to spend hours outside building snowmen and igloos? (Not to mention the fun snowball fights you’d find yourself in). Grab your family, snow clothes, and a sled, and head to a hill where you’re sure to have hours of fun together, and burn off all those extra calories from the sugary treats. Other fun snow-filled activities include skiing/snowboarding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. On average, downhill skiing/snowboarding can burn about 300 to 600 calories per hour!
3. Go Ice Skating
There’s something so nostalgic and magical about ice skating around Christmas. Whether you glide gracefully on the ice, or you trip over your own feet, ice skating is a great aerobic exercise where one can burn up to several hundred calories in one hour.
4. Visit Christmas Light Displays
You don’t have to be Clark Griswold to enjoy the seasonal light displays, especially if your “little lights aren’t twinkling, Clark.” You can still enjoy other Christmas light displays around your town. It’s one of the easiest and most fun ways to get in the spirit of Christmas. Many cities will have light show displays downtown. Go enjoy strolling past them and enjoy their beauty.
5. Bake and Run
Ahhhh… the sweet smells of peppermint, cinnamon, and baked goods coming from the kitchen are a wonderful way to help you enjoy spending quality time together with your kids– all while filling your home with the sweet aroma of Christmas. Bake some yummy holiday treats from scratch with your family, then deliver them anonymously to friends and neighbors around the neighborhood.
6. Watch your Favorite Winter Movie
Ok, so we know watching a movie isn’t an aerobic workout–but if you watch one while walking on the treadmill it is! In fact, if a 160 lb. person walked just 2 mph while watching a one-hour film, she would burn over 200 calories. Who says that working out on a machine can’t be enjoyable?!
7. Shovel Snow
Shoveling snow itself may not seem like a “fun activity,” but if you’re outside playing watching your kids play anyway, why not get a good exercise out of it? In only 30 minutes of shoveling, a 155 lb person could burn 223 calories!
In addition to regular exercise to help with SAD symptoms, it’s important to eat healthy during the winter to keep your energy levels up. When you get a sugar craving, make sure to reach for a healthier alternative like a Jolly Llama Sorbet or Cream Pop instead of a bag of M&M’s. These delicious treats are made with real fruit, are low in sugar and calories, and high in taste. There’s no better way to feel jolly this time of year.