The winter can be a very difficult season for a lot of people. Post-holiday bills, gray skies, and cold winds are enough to make a person want to hibernate until the spring thaw. In the book, “The Exercise Cure,” Dr. Jordan Metzi emphases both the physical and mental health benefits for moving one’s body. He discusses in depth the need to exercise regularly for the release neurotransmitters of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These are, simply put, our feel good chemicals in the brain. We also know from Newton’s First Law that a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest. Therefore, getting to a place where we change our daily habits to include physical exercise can be challenging. Here are a few suggestions to assist you in your change of routine:
- First make a list of the benefits of exercise and the negatives to exercise. Do not short change the “negatives.” If there were not negatives to exercise, everyone would be doing it. One negative might be that you are not able to stay comfortably on your couch watching TV (you know that it more attractive then a sweaty gym). See if the benefits weight out the negatives before you attempt to change your behavior.
- Second, visualize yourself going to the gym in the cold of winter and how the accomplishment will make you feel positively wonderful once the workout is complete.
- Use the 15 min., 30 min., 1 hour rule. This means, the first day you exercise, promise yourself to only do one activity for 15 minutes. Be proud you are completing any exercise at all. The second day, complete 30 minutes of exercise and then one hour on the third day. It is important that you quit during the time limit for the first three times. This will allow you to feel the momentum of committing to only a small part of your day. Once you have had the third day for 1 hour, you will have experienced the joy of accomplishing a healthy workout.
- Bring a friend. Accountability and company help with motivation and overall enjoyment.
These suggestions will not change the gray skies or the cold temperature, but it will help you feel better and more in charge of your mood.
If you have persistent depressed mood due to the challenge weather and being inside, please consider scheduling a counseling session today.