September 28, 2023

Shake Off Those New Jersey Winter Blues

Wondering how you’ll manage to survive another bleak winter in NJ? Who knows if we’ll see much snow… but even if it’s just dreary, winter is always the most difficult time of year. Here’s how to get through the chilly season and keep your spirits up.

Make it a priority to greet the sun every day that you can. Snow on the ground can make for some blindingly sunny days. Get out there and bask in it. At work, take a stroll about town on your lunch break. Getting enough vitamin D, especially during the winter, can be critical in elevating your mood and avoiding Seasonal Affective Disorder (otherwise known as the winter blues).

Keep those endorphins up. Find an exercise routine that appeals to you, and stick with it. Particularly for people with allergies, frigid temperatures can be the best and easiest time to run. Breathe better and run faster knowing the pollen and mold spores have gone dormant! It feels great to run in the snow on a bright sunny day, but if you’re at work at that time, you may have to run outside at night. It’s still possible, provided the roads are clear – and can be a beautiful, peaceful time to enjoy while all the Christmas lights are still up.

Take up a winter sport. Skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, even just sledding… all invigorate the mind and energize the body. Winter sports are a great way to get out and meet people while getting in shape. Packing up the car, loading in your gear, and traveling up to a snowy destination (can be North Jersey, can be Camelback, can be Killington!) is great fun, and a superb way to make the most of the snow and cold.

Eat hearty, but healthy. Binge eating over the holidays is great while it’s happening, but the crash is a hard fall. The cold may have you craving rich and high-fat meals… more meat, dairy, butter, fat. It’s okay to enjoy these in moderation, but be sure to enjoy healthier comfort foods as well. Lentils and legumes are key components to a thick and hearty soup that’s also great for your body. Antioxidant-rich winter vegetables – cabbage, kale, turnips, collards… are all high in Vitamins A, C, and calcium and can help fight colds and flu. Butternut and acorn squash, carrots and sweet potatoes are also sources of Vitamin A and wonderful for your health. Eat salmon and tuna – rich in omega fats.

Pick up a shovel! Avoiding shoveling is one surefire way to succumb to the dreaded winter blues. If the white stuff is falling from the sky, embrace it. Go out there during the brightest time of day, and shovel your way to a stronger body, a better mood, and, oh yes – a cleared driveway and path. Even if you hurt after shoveling, it’s a good hurt. (People with bad backs, I can’t help you though). Snowblowing is not quite the same in terms of getting healthy exercise, although admittedly it’s better than lying on the couch all day.

Treat yourself, but in moderation. A few pieces of good chocolate each day can be a great pick-me-up and little reward for, say, shoveling that front path. If you feel compelled to bake goodies, just be sure to spread the love around. Give some away to your neighbors, the mailman, the teachers at your child’s school, etc. A warm oven is inviting for sure, just take care not to send your blood sugar soaring and falling.

Take up knitting and/or crocheting. We can all use the hats, gloves and sweaters, so why not? Knitting and crocheting by a warm fire at the end of a long day… there’s nothing more comforting or pleasurable. Knitting and crocheting also takes brain power… may as well engage in activities that keep the mind sharp and the fingers nimble. Check for some great deals on yarn.

Engage the mind. Family game night can be a great way to chase those winter blues away. Have the neighbors over… play cards, play board games, eat nachos, drink hot toddies. Even if you’re keeping it low-key, you can still pick up a few brain teasers, try your hand at Sidoku, or a few floor puzzles that the whole family can do together.

Build fires… ALL winter. If you have a fireplace, use it. If you have space for a wood stove, get one on Craigslist and use it. Even having a fire pit outside with snow on the ground (maybe a few people in the hot tub if you have one?!) can add considerable cheer to a winter evening. Even if you have no fireplace, find friends who do, and hang out with them as often as possible. Fire good!

Stay tuned for an upcoming feature on NJ hot spots to visit this winter!

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