Boost your spirits with exercise this holiday season

The holiday season is often a time of year where many feel stressed and overwhelmed, and it can be a particularly difficult time for those who suffer from anxiety or depression. The change in seasons; overindulgence and increased alcohol consumption; a disruption in sleep schedule; too many commitments; unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others; a lack of quiet time and personal space… these may all be contributing factors. Happily, there’s something simple that can help.

Research suggests both exercise and spending time outdoors are powerful and effective tools in treating anxiety and depression. In fact, some studies suggest they’re more effective than some of the more commonly prescribed medications for these conditions.

Five ways to boost your mood with exercise this holiday season:

  1. Walk! Plain and simple, walking more is the best thing most Canadians can do to improve their health. Aim for at least 30 minutes at a brisk pace and you’ll find yourself refreshed, energized and feeling happier.
  2. Get outside and do something… anything. Shovel the driveway, run errands on foot, scrape the ice off the car, re-fill the bird feeder, or help out a neighbour by clearing their snow.
  3. Play with the kids. Build a snowman, make a fort, head to the toboggan hill, or strap on some snowshoes. A little nature-therapy combined with exercise will do everyone the world of good.
  4. Lose the layers and take a dip in the pool. If winter’s chill and bundling up day after day are only adding to the weight on our shoulders, try stripping down to your swimsuit and enjoying an invigorating swim or some water play with the kids.
  5. Take a stretch break. Too much standing, sitting, talking, eating, drinking, and noise, are enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed. Retreat to a quiet spot a few times a day for some deep breathing, some stretching, or some yoga. You might also try some of these meditation techniques.

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