Hanscom’s Top Five: Ways to fight winter woes, distress this cold season

January 9, 2021

With the significant December festivities over, popular sports seasons concluding and many weeks of bleak, icy and jejune winter pursuing, there is much room for low spirits and gloomy thoughts in people’s lives. To help combat such dull mindsets, below, I have compiled a list of the top five fun, revitalizing things to do this cold winter season to help re-energize, loosen up and infuse the mind with positive, happy thoughts.


1. Exercise

I know, I know. Exercise may seem like a well-traveled, clichéd path when it comes to fighting depression and anxiety. However, it is also an essential one. 

When one works out, their body releases dopamine and endorphins, both of which link to decreased stress and improved contentment. Physical activity, according to a Healthline article written by nutritionist and dietitian Arlene Semeco, not only helps one feel happier but also can boost energy levels–which are necessary for battling the winter blues! 

Now, some may not know how to work out during winter, with snow, ice and frigid temperatures dominating the outdoors. Even on the coldest of winter days, however, there are several options. 

On brighter, clearer days, hiking is an excellent choice. Locations like Waterfall Glen and Bussee Woods offer exceptional walking trails. Lyman Woods also provides affordable snowshoe rentals and Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports fantastic skiing opportunities. On colder, drearier days, one does not need to travel far. Websites like Darabee and CrossFit present countless effective workouts that don’t require any equipment–and one can perform them in the comfort of their own home!


2. Make a Positive Life Change

During winter, it is common for the cold, unforgiving weather to defeat many people’s desires to travel far from their homes’ warmth, which often equates to less social interaction, boredom and laziness. 

Nevertheless, instead of endlessly waiting for the sun to finally shine, why not do something much more productive, like making a positive life change? Sure, change can be quite stressful–but not if someone makes the right change. 

How about succumbing to that New Year’s Resolution you eagerly created? How about attempting something new or discarding something old? How about starting a different diet, or helping someone else with their own? 

There are many changes to make, yet all of them will yield the same results: a complimentary success and an improved you! Such feelings of accomplishment and advancement are so rewarding and can instantly fill one with pride, confidence and delight, banishing the winter gloom and dissatisfaction from their lives. 


3. Step Away and Take a Break!

The average person has countless daily stressors and responsibilities, especially during the long winter months. While people still need to check things off their seemingly endless to-do lists during winter, it is just as crucial for them to step away from their duties, as tricky as it may be. Whether it be school, work, chores, sports or extracurricular activities, respect yourself and step away! One’s mind can only handle so much commitment, after all. 

Upon taking a break, many would likely reach for their phone first. Although one needs to spend free time enjoying themselves, it is wise to take time between tasks doing something healthy–and avoiding phones and social media, both of which often lead to distraction and procrastination. Instead, try playing with a pet, conversing with a family member, reading an interesting book, taking a brain break, or performing a mini yoga session

Spending breaks doing salutary, mindful activities can eliminate the winter woes and make one feel relieved, refreshed and energized.


4. Do Something Creative

Too busy or just wishing to sit and relax after a long day of chores, work or school, many don’t take enough time to practice creativity, frequently leaving them uninterested or forgetful of the notion. However, partaking in inventive projects can be quite fun and much simpler than it seems. 

I’m not talking about writing a book or creating the next Mona Lisa–one does not have to be good at fine arts to be creative. I’m more so talking about things like mindlessly coloring, casually sketching, writing a simple poem or short story and inventing fun new ways to organize, design or decorate. Cooking, baking and indoor gardening are also practicable, manageable creative pursuits. 

Like making a positive life change, being creative can lead to feelings of accomplishment and pride. It can even result in increased happiness and a reduction in stress and depression. All these benefits help to cancel out the detriments of winter woes and distress.  


5. Use Your Resources

In addition to the methods noted above, there are countless other winter woes-fighting resources available to anyone with Internet access–which is everyone in this day and age. 

Take this winter to download apps like Calm or Balance to tackle stress and anxiety and develop improved habits and mindsets. Utilize programs like Evernote, Pinterest and Google Calendar to organize, develop and process your thoughts, ideas and goals to free your crowded mind. Employ tools like Grammarly and Kami to stay on top of school and work. 

DGN also provides many additional resources that are key in defying winter distress. Check out these mental health resources given by the DGN website. Review this list of winter break tips offered in an email from Student Assistant Coordinator Keith Bullock this December. Winter break may be over, but this email’s advice is still quite helpful and resourceful throughout the entire winter season.

The amount of available materials is infinite! 

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