IMG 4753 300x129 - How To Get Over The Winter Blues

Emily & Charley Enjoying Some Fresh Air

We’d like to welcome our Pilates trainer, Emily Watson, to the writing team. Emily recently completed her Pilates Internship hours with Ruth and passed her national boards, meaning she is now officially a Nationally Certified Pilates Teacher. In addition to Pilates, Emily also has a background in Dance and is a Registered Nurse. She brings a wealth of knowledge to our team and we’re so excited to have her contributing to our blogs. Short on time? Jump to the end of the article for a quick summary of her main tips.

Recently I listened to Joseph Pilates’ book, Return to Life Through Contrology while driving to visit my mom in Connecticut. I’ve read his book before and wanted a reminder of what Joe says will help us all feel healthier. Pilates keeps it simple when he says, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in.” He talks about regular exercise (Pilates, of course), better nutrition, getting plenty of sleep, being outside in the “fresh air,” engaging in hobbies you enjoy, and having fun! I smiled at that last piece of advice. Having fun is important!

It sounds simple enough, but I know I can get absorbed in day-to-day chores and then realize I forgot to prioritize myself. It’s hard to get outside when it’s cold and snowy or rainy and the days are short and gray, but . .  . we must! (Right?). Luckily I have a large golden retriever named Charley who ensures that I keep to my daily walks. I try to walk a mile or more with him, but sometimes he protests and we have to turn home early. Still, the fresh air does wonders for me, combining with mild exercise to supply my body with vitamin D and raise my endorphins, those wonderful happy molecules even a little exercise generates. When I’m happy, I sleep better, and when I feel good, I make better choices. 

This year I made several new resolutions. I have vowed to drink more water. I’ve read articles and blogs on the benefits of drinking a gallon of water a day, including the connection between hydration and the immune system. I find a gallon a day seems overwhelming, so I just focus on drinking water throughout the day, always refilling my glass. Sometimes I fancy up my water by adding a splash of fresh juice, fruit, or sparkling water. When I need to warm up I drink herbal teas or water with lemon. Keeping hydrated helps your skin look better, provides natural lubrication for your joints and muscles, helps your body regulate its temperature, may prevent and treat headaches, helps prevent constipation, and helps wash away anything your body does not need. Magic…almost!

The other two resolutions were to read and write more. Those two hobbies for me are easily coupled with lounging with my dog and my two black panther-like cats, Mischa and Graham. My furry creatures are incredibly funny, and nothing is a better destresser than smiling or laughing. Laughter has also been found to stimulate many organs by enhancing intake of oxygen, relieve pain, and boost your immune system (Check out what the Mayo Clinic had to say).

I’ve found several other daily habits that help to give me ease of mind as well. When the sun goes down, any talk of finances or things I forgot to do tends to stress me out, barreling around in my head when I try to sleep.  I don’t want to forget about them so I make a quick note of them and set them aside. (Jotting them on a little slip of paper works for me. They’ll still be there in the morning, when I can actually do something about them.) No phone or other blue-light screens starting an hour or two before sleep, because blue light disturbs the natural circadian rhythm that governs healthy sleeping and waking. Go to sleep early and take naps when needed. Keep in touch with family and close friends. Take baths (Joe Pilates would add to use a stiff bristle brush, but to be honest, I use a soft sponge).

And cook!!! I love to cook for myself and my husband and any family and friends that come to visit. I especially love to chop fresh fruits and vegetables to make sauces, soups, and a long list of other delectables. Food is medicine and we should focus on nutrition that works for our body. The more whole fruits and vegetables we eat, the better. Michael Pollan says, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” (Find Michael Pollan’s 7 Rules for Eating webmd.com or check out our article on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet). If you have other questions about food, you can consult with Dagmar Riddick at CORE, who is a Certified NASM Nutrition Coach.

Did you zone out when I started talking about cats and dogs?  Here’s a simple summary.

  1. EXERCISE (CORE Personal Training and Pilates – functional, yoga, and Pilates!)
  2. HYDRATE Drink mostly water, but herbal teas and seltzer with a splash of juice or a twist of fruit are good, too)
  3. SLEEP Create a relaxing atmosphere you love. Turn your phone on silent, take a hot bath or shower, and curl up with a book you like. Although it’s best to seek sleep at the same time every night, go to bed early when you can. Take a nap when you feel you need one. 
  4. EAT whole HEALTHY foods. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat the rainbow full of vitamins and nutrients you need to stay healthy. Make your own sauces and soups when you can. Love yourself and your family with food. Allow the occasional treat as well. Limit sweets, caffeine and alcohol. For more nutritional advice contact Dagmar Riddick at CORE 
  5. REDUCE STRESS. Ask yourself what is stress relieving for me? Perhaps try a calming meditation or yoga breathing exercises. There are some great apps on this link Five Free Mindfulness Apps Worthy of Your Attention. I have also enjoyed Meditation Oasis podcasts Podcast — Meditation Oasis.There are also apps that have guided breathwork for beginners. Laugh more. Give yourself a full body rejuvenation by getting a massage (DALY massage studio – Home | Facebook). 
  6. Get OUTSIDE! Take a walk around the block or come visit me and Charley. Watch the ducks down at Occoquan. Discover a local park. 
  7. Have FUN! Try a new hobby. Some of the ones I enjoy are crafts, reading, painting, cooking, walking, PILATES!!, and dancing (maybe lessons, alone or with others). Do a jigsaw puzzle or play board games, all the while keeping in mind that a product doesn’t matter. It’s the process that counts, because that’s where the fun is! 
  8. CONNECT with Others. Include friends or family in new hobbies and activities. Go for a walk with a friend or neighbor. Make plans to work out with someone.

Little steps lead to big changes when you want them to. And remember that you don’t have to be stressed alone and without support. Seek professional counsel; it can provide tools for managing your stress and new and often fascinating perspectives on the wonderful, complex person that is YOU.

Happy 2022! Please feel free to comment and ask questions! 

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