Have the winter blues set in and you find yourself dreaming of warmer days and summer beach adventures?
At first, making the fire and getting cosy can feel nostalgic, but eventually, it can wear on even the hardiest of people. And if you can afford to escape for a short break to warmer climes, you still have to come back and face the music.
As winter sets in, motivation wanes and curling up under a blanket and eating some comfort food seems more appealing. It's dark, it's cold and let's face it, some days thinking about staying fit, in mind and body, gets put on the back burner. It's these times where we can lose focus and stop looking after ourselves and doing the things we need, to fight off the winter blues.
We need to make time in our busy schedules to keep moving and doing the necessary things to keep our bodies healthy and our minds clear. Even if it's just small amounts of time, take the time to get out there and do something for yourself. It's quite easy to focus on career and family obligations, and by the end of the day collapse in exhaustion in front of the TV.
If you need some motivation, then consider what Thomas Edison wrote about maintaining a healthy body. According to Edison, "The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will involve the patient in the proper use of food, fresh air, and exercise."
With the great inventor motivating us to keep ourselves healthy, let's get a workable action plan to help get us through winter:
Get out there and exercise
1. It doesn't matter what you do, allocate yourself some time to be outside walking, running, anything; just get yourself outside doing something you love. If you think less about counting calories and more about regular daily movement, you'll be able to find bite-sized parts in your day to keep your body healthy
Eat nutritious, healthy food
2. If you haven't heard this message by now, here it is again. Eat healthy, nutritious meals that fuel the body and help you maintain energy throughout the day. Throw in the occasional sweet treat so that you remember to live the good life and not keep things too serious.
3. A regular yoga practice will help your body feel its best. Yoga relieves stress and helps us deal with life when it gets hard. If you want to combine your exercise with yoga, then you can supercharge the endorphins.
A simple strategy is to do 10-15 minutes of training and then take 10 minutes to do some simple yoga poses. It is better to do a little yoga every day than to try to do one hour, once a week. Bite-sized yoga chunks are the way to fit it into your life when time is short.
Mindfulness and meditation
4. Add mindfulness and/or meditation to your life . The three previous actions are all great things but adding 5-10 minutes where you sit, with your eyes closed will do wonders for beating the winter blues.
Meditation can be a variety of things but in its essence, you want to focus on your breathing and thinking about the present; not the past, or the future. Through meditation, you will learn to let everything else go. "Meditation is a vital way purify and quiet the mind, thus rejuvenating the body." Deepak Chopra
Even though we live in the Winterless North, the shorter days and cold, rainy nights can cause us to lose focus and make us want to hibernate until spring. Instead, take the time to get moving, doing something you enjoy, eat food that nourishes your body and mind, add some stretches (ie, yoga) and meditate.
It is a simple prescription to help get you through the winter blahs. Remember that exercise equals endorphins and endorphins make you happy. Make these things a part of your life, not because you force yourself to do it, but because you want to be healthy, and live your best life.
• Tim Seutter is a firefighter, yoga teacher and manager at The Loft Yoga and Pilates Studio, Whangārei.