A mindfulness practice can help you reduce stress, shift your focus on the positive and enjoy life during one of the more challenging seasons for our mental and physical health. Paying attention on purpose, without judgment and with kindness to your emotions, energy and winter activities can lead to better safety during treacherous activities as well as avoiding succumbing to winter blues.
Mindfulness and mindful stress-relieving techniques can help reduce stress chemicals in the body that can cause depression, anxiety and weight gain.
Here are some ways to practice mindfulness during the winter season:
❚ Use mindfulness to be safe during the winter.
Slippery roads, sidewalks and stairs can lead to endangering and potentially life-changing accidents. Learning how to pay attention, on purpose, slow down and focus while driving and walking outdoors can help protect ourselves as we navigate more risky travel.
❚ Notice without judgment and with kindness how your energy and mood may change during this season. It is perfectly natural to slow down and want to hibernate indoors during the winter. However, too much of this can lead to weight gain, depression and other negative health impacts. With this knowledge, think about ways you could change up your routine to combat this from happening.
❚ Make the most out of slowing down and spending more time indoors. Be mindful of your indoor atmosphere and how it affects your health. Winter encourages a time of reflection, so use it to mindfully reflect on your life, your priorities, the current state of health, and what you’d like to see for yourself for the year. Do some “winter cleaning” to purge things from your home and your life that are no longer needed and causing unnecessary stress. Focus on making healthy meals and mindful nutrition while you enjoy your home.
❚ Practice mindfulness with your loved ones.
Focusing attention on and listening mindfully to your family and friends is a significant way to improve relationships. Stay warm by snuggling up with your loved ones next to a fire which increases oxytocin, a chemical in the body that makes us feel better and reduces stress chemicals.
❚ Enjoy the beauty of nature in winter. Take some time to truly notice and enjoy the beauty that comes during the winter. Snowcapped trees and landscape are breathtaking! Practicing this gratitude increases the chemicals serotonin and dopamine that keep us from falling into depression and stressing our minds and bodies with anxiety.
Get some good winter gear and take part in winter sports such winter hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, ice skating, and evening outdoor running. Enjoy the scenery along the way and use mindfulness paying more attention to avoid slips and falls as well protect your body while shoveling snow.
For more info, please go to Healthy Sheboygan County 2020’s website http://www.healthysheboygancounty. org, fill out their contact form on their website to email them, and/or call them at (920) 459-3031.
Rachael Lewinski is a mindful instructor at Mental Health America in Sheboygan County, personal trainer and yoga teacher at the Sports Core and Yoga on the Lake in Kohler, and member of the Sheboygan County Activity and Nutrition committee (SCAN).