Tips to stay healthy and happy through the winter


As we reach month 9 of the covid-19 pandemic and the days have become shorter, many of us are struggling to maintain a balance both with our home life as well as our physical and mental well-being. 

Many of us are now working from home, with an office perched on a kitchen table or with a laptop on the sofa and recent studies have shown signs that our mental health is not good, in fact, we may be more stressed than before.

The good news is that there are many ways to cope and keep us happier while we're home. Here are a few tips to try.

1.Let in the outside light
Sunlight along with fresh air and access to nature is fundamentally good for your mental health. Sunlight triggers the brain to release serotonin which can help you feel calm, boost your mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.​

Sunlight serves as a great regulator of sleep and often we are in more control of this natural mood booster than we may think. Moving your workstation or desk near a window, pulling the curtain or blinds back fully and cleaning the window thoroughly can be game-changing. Using mirrors to bounce light around a room and painting a room white or a light colour can also help to reflect the light.If your workspace is in a darker area of your home, perhaps invest in a mood light or happy lamp to help combat those same feelings.

2. Start your day with Gratitude
How do you start your day? Studies have shown that the way we spend the first few minutes of our day has a direct impact on the outcome of our day. Try waking up with gratitude. If you don't know where to start, think about what you love most and focus your attention there for a brief moment. While your thoughts are there, say thank-you. This doesn't need to be said out loud, just focus on how those blessings make you feel. Hopefully, your day begins with a smile.

3. Don't forget your morning commute
If your work commute has transitioned from bedroom to kitchen or couch, you're probably missing out on some physical movement so why not bring back our morning commute? How much time did you previously spend commuting? 15min? A half hour? Why not take that same time and add some form of exercise to the beginning or end of your day? Our commutes have also been a way to decompress after a long day and with our new work from home environment, that decompression hasn't been happening. So let's take that time back. Simple movements such as going for a walk around the block, stretching, Yoga, squats, wall push-ups with your favourite music playing in the background can help make you feel amazing. Nothing is going to change or need your immediate attention for 15 minutes but the benefits of taking that "commute time" back to stay fit and strong can set you up for a healthier future. 

4. Add some plants
Looking at natural objects can give your brain a much needed break from focusing. A beautiful plant can take our attention elsewhere in a way that is not over stimulating or disruptive. A beautiful escape if you will. Many varieties of plants require very little attention and can have long term mood boosting effects as we often associate nature with relaxation. 

5. Social contact
As human beings, we crave contact and connection. The pandemic has certainly challenged our most basic of human needs. Take a moment to think about what it is that you miss most about going to an office or place of work? What most people miss most is chatting with colleagues, whether in the elevator, during a coffee or lunch break or while taking the stairs. When the pandemic hit, most of this contact disappeared quite suddenly. We were not given much time to adapt and now we are feeling the tremendous impact of that. Meeting others with the restrictions that are in place is obviously more difficult but we need to make this happen. Schedule a time to go for a physically distanced walk, connect with a neighbour or have a virtual happy hour with colleagues you miss and haven't seen in a while. Your mental health will thank-you.

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Author: Sue Conder 

Sue Conder is an experienced and successful fitness industry veteran with a mission and passion to inspire people to live stronger, healthier, more balanced lives no matter what their circumstances. Sue's work background and extensive experience in fitness and wellness includes time at the Jewish Community Centre as a Member & Guest Services Supervisor, UPnGO with ParticipACTION BC Implementation Specialist, president of her own fitness and wellness company, "Sue Conder Yoga and Wellness", as a health and wellness consultant for TriFit Inc, plus a significant amount of volunteer work and many more service related offerings. Sue is a CanFit PRO Trainer, Yoga instructor, Fitness and Nutrition Specialist, Fitness Leadership & Recreation Diploma 1997 from Simon Fraser University and an associate Science Degree 1991-1995 from Capilano University plus many other related certificates.

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