The last thing many people want to do in the peak of winter, when it’s wet, cold and icy, is go outside. Most of us, including myself, lock the doors, close the curtains and hibernate on the sofa under a pile of blankets as soon as we get home at the end of the day. We become slightly less sociable, and very much less active.
As comforting as cuddling up on the sofa with a hot chocolate watching Love Actually may be, it’s important to make sure that before you put your fluffy PJs on, and commit to being inside for the night, that you take the time to get some fresh air, especially if you’re starting to feel the weight of the dark winter months. Here’s why…
Getting outside during the day means getting some natural light. Not only does this boost Vitamin D levels, helping to support good all round health, but it also helps sync your circadian rhythm. The natural light helps to balance your sleep and wake cycle, making you feel less tired in the day time and better able to sleep at night, contributing to good mental health.
Going outside is a great way to relax, where there are no stimulants or artificial light. The lack of distractions is fantastic for escaping the pressures of your busy day-to-day life, allowing you to slow down and think. It was also found, by The Journal of Affective Disorders (2013), that going outside can significantly help to reduce anxiety and depression. Thus helping those who suffer with either of these conditions, as well as those who have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
Nothing wakes you up like some fresh air and sunlight, especially when it’s a bit chilly outside. Going outside can make you more alert, helping to combat any winter tiredness and making you more productive during the day (just make sure you wrap up beforehand!).
Being out in the open is said to have a number of health benefits, including boosting your short-term memory, strengthening the immune system, and lowering blood pressure.
The feel good factor
Getting out of the house prevents you from going stir crazy. In the winter, when we all become a little housebound, the days often consist of going to and from work, which can get a little tedious and leave you very unmotivated. Getting out of the house gives you a bit of relief from this same routine and makes you feel more productive in the process by having been somewhere new, as well as getting a bit of exercise in.
The cold weather can be very discouraging in the winter, making the pull of your house even stronger. But pushing yourself to go outside, even for just 15 minutes a day, can really create a difference in not only your mood, but your overall health. It’s an excuse to explore new places, see friends and even buy a new scarf or hat to stay warm.