4 Wellness Activities to Battle Winter Blues
With colder weather on the rise, we are all bracing ourselves in one way or another.
For some of us it’s cuffing season, a time to play a dating edition of musical chairs while praying that we won’t be the ones spending the winter season alone. For others, it’s a magical time of year when the spirit of the holidays descends, telling us its ok to forget about spring budgets and summer diets all in the name of good cheer. But whatever our reality, we all need some feel-good activities to assure the New Year finds us alive and well.
Below are some easy, yet beneficial wellness practices you can start today to keep you feeling physically, mentally and spiritually well whilst living in a world so cold.
1. Salt Baths
There’s not much that a nice warm bath can’t make better. Many of us can feel bedraggled just trying to make these last few months of the year count. This is a great time of year to remember that it’s important to relax and nurture our bodies after long days of ripping and running. Taking salt baths as a form of relaxation and restoration is a practice that dates back to as early as 2,700 BC. Physiologically speaking, salt acts as a natural anti-histamine that aids in detoxifying the body.
In the holistic health world using Himalayan salt for baths is revered for its high mineral content and unique ability to leave your skin feeling refreshed and glowing, but sea salt and Epsom salt baths definitely have their benefits as well. So, allow yourself to take one night out the week to fill the tub with bubbles and briny water, turn on your fave playlist, light some candles, and soak in some much needed you time.
The days are shorter and the air is colder, making it harder for most of us to feel energized for any normally scheduled fitness activities. And sadly, we are often hardwired into believing workouts should be all about the physical results, that sweat and bodily anguish are the only currency we can pay to transform ourselves. We forget that exercise is also a way to strengthen the connection between the mind and body.
In Sanskrit, the word yoga means union or connection. Developed 5,000 years ago in India by hella woke Hindu Vedas, yoga is a practice about merging our inner and outer worlds. When it comes to wellness, yoga’s unique ability to work out our body, mind, and spirit is unparalleled. The deep breathing alone, called pranayama, greatly benefits the cardiovascular system and yoga is also scientifically proven to reduce feelings of stress in the mind and body.
Even a 15-20-minute beginner’s Hatha yoga routine —videos which can be found on YouTube by the millions— has an amazing capacity to tone your body, invigorate your mind, and spark some emotional feel goods—no gym membership required.
3. Guided Meditation
In the Indus Valley, archeologists found cave drawings depicting people sitting in meditative postures dating back as far as 5,000 BCE. The same woke Vedas of yogi fame were the first to document meditation techniques in their religious scriptures 3,000 years ago. Cross-culturally, meditation is a widely used wellness practice for spiritual development. And honestly, who doesn’t want to feel a little more grounded and purposeful?
One of the great advantages of guided meditation is you don’t have to be an expert meditator. Its common use of guided imagery has been strongly proven to reduce stress, soothe physical pains and promote healing. You can do guided meditation sessions just about anywhere—in the bed, at the breakfast table, and certainly in the car before Black Friday shopping (we’ve all seen the videos…)—for any length of time.
Long-term meditation practice is also scientifically proven to promote good feeling emotions due to its ability to increase gray matter in our brains and alter metabolites linked to anxiety and depression.
Reflection is a key component in setting goals for the future. And journaling is a perfect way to reflect and healthfully unpack any unwanted feelings or thought patterns that would be better left in 2017.
People have been known to keep diaries throughout the ages and the desire to put our thoughts and feelings into words as a form of catharsis is deeply human. In 1960, journaling as a form of therapy was introduced by psychologist Dr. Ira Progroff in New York City.
Today there are countless journaling prompts and techniques aimed to encourage even the most doubtful penman. Many people find journaling to be therapeutic because it provides mental clarity, but what many people don’t know is that journaling has also been found to strengthen our immune cells (take that, crazy winter flu) and help us come to terms with past stressful events, resulting in the reduction of stressors on our physical bodies.
By now you’ve probably realized that you can start any of these four wellness activities at any time during the year, but they’re great ways to make the winter season a little bit comfier. Remember, there is always value in finding simple and loving practices that make us feel good.
Adia Harris is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and everyday advocate for mental health and holistic wellness. Her greatest ambition is to empower others to explore their own healing capacities through her work.
What she's most passionate about: Knowledge and healing.
Clever Girl Super Power: Kindness.
Keep up with her on IG @thedeeds3