Winter is right around the corner and it is likely that most of us would rather stay wrapped up in our blankets with a latte rather than venturing outdoors to get some exercise. Unfortunately because of the bone chilling temperatures we acquire here in MinneSNOWta, cold weather usually means becoming less active, less motivated, and more tempted to veg out. Some of us may even find ourselves getting into seasonal affective disorder, also known as seasonal depression. A way to cope with these winter blues is not to sit in bed all day, but to make sure we’re getting out, staying active and taking care of ourselves even when it’s a challenge. Coming from your fellow collegiettes who’ve been through it all, here are our top nine tips to stay healthy during the winter season.
Find an activity that you enjoy that will raise your heart rate. All you need is a minimum of 30 minutes a day of physical activity. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? You’ll probably end up spending more than 30 minutes exercising without even realizing it! Plenty of fitness classes are offered at Winona State’s Integrated Wellness Center each day of the week (including weekends!) and range from relaxing yoga sessions to hardcore insanity workouts. You’ll be sure to find something that works best for you. Each fitness class lasts about an hour, and did I mention that it’s FREE? That’s right! You can even make it a social event while encouraging your friends to come with you. What’s better than spending time with your friends and burning calories at the same time? Make sure to grab a fitness schedule,
which is also available at the IWC’s front desk. If fitness classes aren’t exactly your forté, the Wellness Center provides an excellent space and a variety of ways for you to get your sweat on.
If you don’t want to leave the house, you can still get a workout! You hear that ladies? The cold weather is not an excuse anymore! Check out the 7 Minute Workout app, it’s an AWESOME fitness app that you can download right to your iPhone or iPad FOR FREE! You can also try purchasing an in-home workout program or using any resource online that instructs how to do workouts without equipment. Our favorites include:
Count nutrients, not calories. If you’re worried about gaining weight over this season, make sure you are counting nutrients and NOT CALORIES. Plus, didn’t that diet fad fade out? Keep up with the times, people! It is important that you’re getting the nutrients you need to be healthy and believe it or not, your body needs calories and protein! If you buy your own groceries, look for produce that is in season. Items that are in season during the months of December, January and February include: clementines, oranges, squash, grapefruit, kale, collard greens, pomegranate, sweet potatoes, pears, and turnips. Not only will these foods help balance and increase your nutrition, but it will also save you money. You absolutely can afford to eat healthy on a college budget.
Limit your junk food intake. It is fine to eat junk food every now and again, but make sure it doesn’t become a habit. A little junk food never hurt anybody, just be conscious about it. Also, because it’s that time of the year, go ahead and indulge in your favorite holiday treats. You deserve it when you refer back to Tip #1 and #2!
Don’t skip breakfast! We know you’ve all heard this more than a couple of times, but breakfast is an essential necessity to your morning, afternoon, and night. Don’t let that coffee fool you for being satisfied and awake. Eating breakfast will start your metabolism and keep it going throughout the day. If you skip breakfast, you WILL burn out earlier. You don’t want to end up falling asleep during class and end up on “WSU Passouts” on Twitter, do you? Save yourself from embarrassment, and eat something before you start your day! Running late? Quickly grab an apple. Studies show that eating an apple will wake you up naturally and you’ll be energized without a crash.
Drink water. Your body is about 75% water so it is beneficial to replenish. It is especially important to drink lots of fluids during the winter because it is when you are more prone to becoming sick. Drinking water has multiple health benefits, and consuming it regularly will also help keep your skin clear.
Get enough sleep. It is important that you get enough rest. About eight hours is recommended each night as an adequate amount of sleep. Sometimes, this is impossible with the demands of schoolwork, but try to avoid pulling all-nighters and stay away from caffeine during the later hours of the day. Have a hard time falling asleep? Come up with a bedtime routine to let your body know that it’s time to sleep. You can also try to make sure that the environment you’re sleeping in is meant for sleep. Don’t do your schoolwork in bed! Find a space that you can dedicate toward studying, perhaps somewhere on campus, in your house, apt, or someplace in town where you’re able to focus on school work. This will make your bed seem like a royal throne.
Take a breather. Mentally and physically, this is a crucial step to overall health. Even though staying up late watching Netflix can feel like you’re taking a load off, your mind needs a break too. In today’s society we are constantly stimulated and rarely take time for ourselves to have a mental break. You could try meditating, or if you don’t have enough time for that, just take some quiet time. As cheesy as it sounds, taking a few moments to put down your phone and centering yourself in silence can calm you and set you up for success for the rest of the day. If you make this a habit, you can truly start to benefit from it and feel more energized during the cold winter days.
Take care of your mental health. If you’re suffering from any forms of mental health disorders, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Know that it is okay to not be okay. Winona State’s Health Services promotes health and the well being of the students at Winona State University. Resources such as personal and career counseling services, crisis intervention, and outreach groups are there to benefit you, they are located conveniently on the second floor of the Integrated Wellness Center on campus. Advocate for yourself, a happy mind is a healthy mind. For more information you can visit Winona State’s Counseling & Wellness Services website.