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Cold days and winter are, as Andy Williams once sang, the most wonderful time of the year. The trees are covered with frosted, white sparkles and we can feel the magic in the air. However, it is hard to stay happy and productive during cold days.
Don’t worry, we are here to help you change that!
Snuggling up in a warm sweater while laying by the fireplace sounds terrific, but after the relaxation period is over, it is time to get tasks done.
Although most of us feel nostalgic, not so energized and healthy, winter is the time to push ourselves harder.
Why do you feel less happy during the wintertime?
No one is a stranger to winter blues. Scientifically, winter blues is defined as SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a form of depression, which is related to seasonal changes. People can experience SAD during fall and winter, which is the most common, as well as in the spring and at the beginning of summer. There are a few symptoms that are characteristic for winter SAD:
- Trouble concentrating
- Mood swings
- Loss of interest, sense of hopelessness
- Weight gain
SAD is the most common condition in the wintertime because the lack of exposure to sunlight causes it. Two chemicals are crucial for experiencing SAD – melatonin, the sleeping hormone, and serotonin, a chemical that affects the mood.
According to Alison Kerry, from the mental health charity mind, sunlight lowers the production of melatonin and allows us to wake up. The less light there is, the more sleepy we feel and it makes it harder to stay happy and productive during cold days. Furthermore, the sunlight lowers the level of serotonin, which directly affects your ability to stay focused and calm.
Our tips on how to stay happy and productive during cold days
According to Dr. Ranna Parekh, about 5% of adults in the U.S. experience SAD and it lasts for about 40% of the year. Being familiar with the SAD is the first step in moving forward.
Here are our 17 tips on how to stay happy and productive during cold days.
Tip 1: Let there be (sun)light!
This is one of the most important tips. To increase productivity level, sit by the window while you are reading a book or watching your favorite show. Be sure to leave the curtains open.
Also, don’t forget to perform any night time activity with the bright, artificial lights on, since it can significantly lift the spirit up. In some cases, it is advised to use light therapy boxes.
Tip 2: Healthy food = healthy you
Carb and sugar enriched food, also known as comfort food, can only cause temporary euphoria and excitement without keeping you full-fed. In fact, according to David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition at Cornell University, feeling better has nothing to do with the food itself – it’s just a psychological effect.
Instead of reaching for cookies and muffins, try eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Eating healthy can also help you lose some weight. If you are looking for tricks to help you reach that goal, be sure to check our article on 24 weight loss tips that you can easily include in your routine.
Tip 3: Eat dark chocolate
Dark chocolate can help you stay happy and productive during cold days. There are more than a few benefits of the dark chocolate:
- It is enriched with Copper, Magnesium, Manganese, Iron and many more minerals
- It is an antioxidant
- It lowers the blood pleasure
Not to forget, dark chocolate makes us feel good. Sometimes there is nothing better than a cup of hot cocoa to warm you up.
However, you should consume it in moderation since it contains processed sugar.
Tip 4: The body needs more vitamin D
To increase its level, be sure to take vitamin D pills or eat foods like salmon and eggs.
Tip 5: Drink more than 8 cups of water
When it comes to drinking water, drinking 8 cups is a minimal amount. Recommendable water intake varies from 11.5 cups for women and 13.5 cups for men.
Tip 6: Stay active before and after the holidays
According to a Harvard University study, the minimal amount of exercise should be walking fast for about 35 minutes, five days a week. In this study, Dr. Michael Craig Miller explains that the body produces proteins, which are neurotrophic or growth factors, that cause nerve cells to make connections.
On another matter, a Stanford University study analyzed how walking can affect creative thinking. The study suggested that even when people sat down after walking, they continued to be more creative.
With light exercise, the body produces endorphins, which are the main reason we feel ‘high’ and happy. This is one of the most effective ways to stay happy and productive during cold days.
Tip 7: Meditate
Meditation is a form of relaxation which focuses on de-concentration and clearing up the mind. Some of the benefits of meditation are:
- Improved communication
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased serotonin production
- Improved immune system
If you are interested in starting with meditation, be sure to check 20 tips that can help you understand the connection between the mind and the body.
Tip 8: Enjoy the cold days
Each time of the year has its benefits. Whether it is making a pumpkin pie, making a snowman in the backyard, or decorating a Christmas tree, small things in life are the ones that matter the most. Embrace the moment and feel the happiness rushing through your body. It doesn’t seem so hard to stay happy and productive during cold days.
If you are too cold to get outside, we suggest you read the article about which food will keep you warm during the wintertime.
Tip 9: Relax
Relaxing by the fireplace, reading a book, taking a nap, or going out with your friends and family. Do the things you enjoy the most! Keep in mind, you should put all your smart devices away – no smartphones, tablets, iPads or TV.
Just you, doing what you enjoy the most, without anyone or anything interrupting.
Tip 10: Be well-rested
Sleeping is the time when the body recovers and it can have a huge impact on your ability to stay happy and productive during cold days. Recommended sleeping durations vary according to age. For adults, it is recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep.
Tip 11: Stick to your habits
Morning routine or night routine, no matter which one – stick the one you have. Human is a creature of habit.
Remember, it takes about one month to change a habit and since the cold days last more than a few months, it will be up to you to be disciplined and productive.
Tip 12: Keep the office or working space warm
In the Forbes article, Andy Teach, an author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time, suggests keeping the working environment desirably warm. If the temperature isn’t high enough, the body is more focused on warming itself instead of concentrating on the task.
On the other hand, if the office seems too warm, it is highly likable you are going to put yourself to sleep since warmer air and water lead to lower blood pressure and you are being sleepy.
Another great tip from Teach is following weather reports daily to see the plan for the next day.
Tip 14: Important tasks must come first
More important tasks should always be a priority. To make sure they are adequately done try doing them first thing in the morning. If you are not a morning person, take time to wake the body up.
Tip 15: Set realistic goals
How many times have you said to yourself: “New Year, new me”? Striving for perfection is a great way to become a better version of yourself as long as it doesn’t become a form of self-destruction.
Breaking a promise you made to yourself in the New Year’s Eve is much worse than breaking a promise made to any other person.
Try to set realistic goals that are easily attainable, both in professional and personal life.
Tip 16: Be persistent
Persistence can only come from a sincere willingness to do something. You might notice that we didn’t use the word stubbornness. On the contrary, persistence is closely connected to the dedication and hard work.
To stay happy and productive during cold days, try not to give up so fast. Sometimes everybody needs a push in the right direction and that is precisely what persistence is going to do for you.
Tip 17: Be aware of the consequences
In cases when there is no motivation, dedication and any willingness to do the task, try thinking about consequences. Sometimes, the only motivator is fear.
Now that you have read how cold days impact the human brain psychologically, it is time to get to know how the winter affects the rest of your body.
What cold days do to your body?
It is a challenge to stay happy and productive during cold days. However, winter changes our bodies in so many ways – on the outside and the inside. On the outside, you can see the changes in overall skin and eyes, but that aren’t the only changes. Let’s go through all of them.
There is no secret that even the oiliest skin types get dry during the winter. There are many causes of this phenomenon – wind, warm air from radiators, and colder weather in general. Your feet, hands, and lips feel cracked. That is why it is important to exfoliate the skin in order to remove dead cells and properly moisturize after.
During the wintertime, our skin needs special care and rich, oil-based moisturizers that will boost the hydration level. Essential oils for skin protection in winter are always a right choice.
It is important to remember that the skin is very sensitive to UV lights, especially in the winter, so it is highly recommendable to use moisturizers with SPF in them.
Eyes can get dry, too. We specifically suggest you to use eye drops to boost the moisture. If you have really sensitive and irritated eyes, try making a cup of calendula tea. There are a few ways you can use it to make the eyes feel better.
Asthma gets worse
Asthma is a lung condition which demonstrates as shortness of breath and coughing. During the cold days, when it feels like the air is almost cutting the surface of the skin, it can additionally enhance asthma symptoms.
Having an inhalator always by your side is going to make sure you stay happy during cold days.
Diabetes and all the delicious food
We are going to blame this one on the holidays. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, people tend to decrease the activity and eat high-calorie, not so healthy food. Since diabetes is a condition of not being able to maintain the glucose level in the blood properly, we suggest you go for a walk every day for at least 30 minutes and watch what you eat.
Heart attacks are more frequent during the cold days for so many reasons, one of them being that the body has to pump the blood faster to keep it warm. That being said, people with higher blood pressure should take better care of themselves during cold days.
It is a common misconception that allergies stop during the winter period. On the contrary, the individuals that are allergic to dust, mold and pet dander are more likely to experience allergy symptoms during cold days than in the summer.
To prevent allergies from ruining winter wonders, try to vacuum and wash the bedsheets as often as possible. If that doesn’t provide the much-needed relief, there are always allergy remedies.
Higher chances of getting a flu
During the wintertime, people spend most of the time indoors – houses, malls, movies and restaurants. Thus, bacteria are easily spread by a cough and sneeze amongst the others. That is why it is crucial to increase the immune system level and wash hands and the face as soon as you get home.
It is nice to read or watch a cartoon about Jack Frost but not so much to be one. Frostbite is described as the freezing of the skin and the tissue.
According to Dr. Jeahan Colletti in a post for accuweather.com, many of us are not even aware of how quickly frostbite works. To keep the body warm, be sure to wear gloves, thicker socks, and jacket, as well as waterproof boots.
In the end, winter only likes to remind us to take better care of ourselves. With healthy eating, proper activity and relaxation, everyone can survive it.
How do you stay happy and productive during cold days?
Image credits: pixabay.com
Last article update: 11/27/2019