The winter can be a dreary time of year. It doesn't have to bring everyone's mood down, though. Follow these tips to ensure that the whole family stays happy and healthy this winter.
1. Fuel Winter Activities
A proper diet can help everyone have consistent energy and mood levels throughout the shorter, darker days of winter. Try to eat more fruits and veggies as a general rule, to boost fiber intake and improve gut health. Try a few novel items you find in the produce section to make it more interesting. Don't just focus on the human family members, either. Since pets need proper nutrition to handle the changes in weather, too, the right food can make a huge difference in how they feel and behave. Dr. Marty Nature's Feast ingredients show that real meats and vegetables are also good for your furry friends.
2. Stay Active
Physical activity has been shown to improve moods and increase energy levels. Unfortunately, many people associate exercise with being outside. That may not always be possible in the winter, especially if you live someplace where snow or ice increases the chance of a fall. Physical activity doesn't have to mean traditional exercise, though. There are so many great winter activities that you can enjoy individually or as a family that one of them is bound to put a smile on your face. Break out the hula hoops, have a dance contest in the living room or use a portable stepper to get in the steps while you are at your desk. Your body and mood will thank you for the effort.
3. Volunteer Together
You are never too young or old to volunteer your time. Even the youngest members of the family can give back and reap the benefits associated with it. People who volunteer to help others generally report feeling more satisfaction and happiness compared to those who don't give back to their communities. Plus, when you raise children who routinely volunteer, they are learning compassion and empathy for others that is likely to stay with them throughout their lives. Look for opportunities that focus on your interests as a family and that allow everyone to play a role for the biggest impact.
4. Learn a New Skill
Your body isn't the only part of you that needs to stay active: You need to exercise your mind, too. Learning a new skill is a great way to do that. When you challenge the mind, it stays better engaged. If you've ever been lost in a process for hours, with time passing completely unnoticed, you know exactly how absorbed you can become in learning something new. That engagement has been directly linked to increased happiness. It isn't so much about what you pursue as it is about the process of learning that really matters here. You can pursue anything from learning how to speak a new language to mastering a musical instrument. Who knows, maybe you'll even form a family band.
5. Face the Frost
Even if you live in a place where winter weather turns exceptionally cold, you can still enjoy time outside. That's important for keeping moods up and spirits boosted, not to mention supporting the immune system. Seriously, spending time in nature is linked to a host of physical and emotional benefits. Researchers have found that the biggest benefits — things like improved health and feelings of wellbeing — occur in people who spend at least two hours a week outdoors.
Research shows that consistent exposure to sunlight affects serotonin levels within the body, resulting in more stable (and generally more upbeat) moods. That can help combat conditions like SAD, which is a major cause of seasonal depression for some individuals. So, go ahead and fill a few spray bottles with food coloring to make snow or ice art, take a nature walk or search for signs of winter wildlife activity as a family. Then gather back inside for some steamy hot cocoa to warm up.
There is no reason to live with the blues all winter long. Spending time in nature, learning a new skill, and eating a nutritious diet can help your family stay healthy and happy no matter how cold it gets outside.