Most experts agree that there’s really never a bad time to start adopting healthy habits that can increase your energy, enhance your mood, and give you a sense of routine and consistency that can improve productivity. But if there’s one time of the year when habit changing reigns supreme, it is often wintertime, when the pace feels slower and there’s more opportunity for downtime and reflection.
The overindulgence that tends to accompany the holiday season is another major motivator for people to consider ways to “get back on track” with their health goals. “We tend to end the year with a lot of decadence, overeating and over-celebrating, and the cold weather tends to limit the amount of activities we’re doing, which can make us feel off-balanced,” explains Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., doctor of nutrition and owner of Eatrightfitness. “Just like anyone who gets restless from sitting too long, this happens in the wintertime when we don’t have our normal activity patterns, so it spurs us to get creative and eat healthier to combat the drop in activity or find other ways to be active.”
There’s no denying that the promise of a new year ahead, not to mention warmer months coming up on your calendar, can lend itself to a great opportunity to start fresh and set new intentions. To help inspire you to make the most of these colder months, here are some expert-recommended health habits to start during winter.
1. Clock seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Sleep is one of our body’s most basic biological functions, yet 1 in 3 Americans are not getting their fair share each night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adequate sleep not only gives you enough energy to make it through your day, but it has also been associated with an increased risk for myriad health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and obesity.
One great way to help ensure you’re getting enough quality sleep is to try to go to bed earlier, which might be easier to do during winter since the nights get dark earlier. Going to bed earlier also will help encourage you to wake up earlier, which may boost your mental health. In fact, one study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that waking up just one hour early was associated with a 23 percent reduced risk of depression. What’s more: A survey by Amerisleep found that waking up early could actually make you more productive, which can help you in far more ways than just your health.
2. Adopt a new hobby.
Too many of us feel limited for free time that we can spend doing things that make us feel happy and fulfilled. No matter what it is you enjoy doing, whether it’s making pottery or playing tennis, a great health habit to start during winter is to make space in your schedule to engage in actual leisure time. Doing so, according to St. Louis-based mental health therapist Stephanie Korpal, M.Ed., LPC, can be a protective factor against burnout, anxiety, depression and so much more. “While hunkered …….