No matter where you live, the winter season provides ample opportunities to connect with family, celebrate holidays, and to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer. While some locations are colder and snowier than others, winter has its way of bringing out hats, coats, mittens and maybe even some cocoa or mulled cider. While it’s tempting to sit by the fire or under a blanket reading a book, it’s important to remember that being active year-round is good for your mind and body.
It’s wonderful to spend time with friends and family during the winter holiday season, even if that means waiting for hours at an airport or being stuck in traffic. Here are some ways to make your travel experience easier:
- Book your travel plans as far ahead as possible, and don’t forget to ask for senior discounts.
- Remember, it’s often possible to save money and have a more relaxing experience if you travel midweek.
- Pack like a pro including outfits that won’t wrinkle easily and that can be restyled with a switch of an accessory or the addition of a sweater or jacket.
- Keep necessities like toiletries and medication in a well stocked carry-on bag in case your luggage is delayed or lost.
- Use technology to your advantage to check flight or train departure times, connect with loved ones while you are enroute and to book a ride share service when you arrive at your destination.
- Stay healthy during your vacation by eating right, being active and getting enough sleep.
Winter holidays are particularly festive given their focus on celebrating light and new beginnings. Whether you plan to spend holidays with family or friends, or taking time to meet new acquaintances, there are so many fun ways to celebrate the season.
You may prefer to avoid the fuss of holiday festivities. Consider doing volunteer work instead. Not only will you bring happiness to others, but you will also reap the rewards of knowing you made a difference during the holiday season. Here are some ways you can help spread the joy:
- Sponsor a child or family by purchasing a holiday meal or gifts. Often, local faith-based organizations have programs that match donors with recipients. Toys for Tots has been providing gifts for children for decades.
- Consider helping a veteran, or a veteran’s family to show support and respect for their service to our country.
- Use your needlework talents to make and donate hats, mittens, and scarves to keep people in your community warm during the colder weather.
- Visit a nursing home, hospital, or rehabilitation center to spread joy to those who may need an extra dose of cheer during the holidays. Consider gathering some friends to go with you to sing carols or play instruments.
- Bake cookies or breads and bring them to the firehouse or police station to thank those who keep us safe year-round.
- Make a meal or volunteer at a food pantry for an organization like Feeding America.
While it may be easy to stay inside and warm your feet by the fire, it’s important to try to get outdoors and enjoy the crisp winter air. You don’t have to be an avid outdoorsman to reap the joy and benefits of a cold winter’s day. Here are some fun ways to get out and be active:
- Throw on a few layers, some boots, and a hat and scarf and go for a walk. There are many walking clubs around the country that you could join to make new friends while experiencing the joys of a winter stroll.
- The National Audubon Society and other nature groups often host guided hikes and evening winter walks that are fun and educational, too!
- If you’re feeling really adventurous, snowshoeing and cross country skiing are great ways to get low impact exercise, and maybe even take a moment to lace up that old pair of skates and spin around the local pond.
- Hypothermia – which is a condition that occurs when your body temperature gets very low. This can happen outdoors, if you aren’t dressed properly, or indoors if you keep temperatures too low.
- Exercise safety – which includes warming up and cooling down properly, dressing in layers, wearing proper foot gear to prevent slips and falls and changing out of wet clothes as soon as possible.
- Immunization – check with your doctor to be sure that you are up to date with your vaccines, including flu and pneumonia, to ensure that you stay disease free, particularly during the winter months.
Don’t let the blues get you down
There’s no doubt that the winter can be joyous and busy, but the reality is that the season also brings less daylight, often frigid temperatures, and for many, a sense of loss or loneliness.
It’s important to prioritize your well-being all year, but especially so during the winter months. Taking good care of your mind and body will help you to remain healthy for the long term.
The best way to manage the “blues”, often called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is to recognize when you are feeling down and talk with someone about it. Keeping active, connecting with others, and exploring outdoors during the winter season will go a long way toward helping you to find joy and happiness.