We’re going into the darkest month of the year. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas means shorter and shorter days, colder temperatures and, for most of you, much more time indoors.
This year we’ll probably be even more aware of the short days because many of the things we love about the holiday season aren’t going to happen. Like holiday parties, get togethers, and community celebrations.
You may, understandably, be feeling a little blue. The go-go stress of the holidays may not be as much this year, but there might be a vacuum in its place. I know I’m going to miss my first grandson’s first Christmas and I’m feeling sad about it. Even though I know it’s absolutely the right thing to do.
It’s no wonder that ancient people celebrated the day that the days stopped getting shorter and there was a little more light every day. It’s no wonder us, more modern types, love holiday lights and cozy fires in our fireplaces to help against the dark.
At this time of year and especially if you’re feeling a bit down, it feels natural to stay indoors and hunker down.
But it’s not the best thing for you.
Getting outdoors, even for a few minutes a day can really give you a lift. Nature will reduce your stress and sooth your nerves. Natural light can improve your mood and health.
What can you do outside at this time of year?
Lots of things, actually. If you have snow on the ground, you can snowshoe or ski. If you don’t have snow or enough daylight time, you can walk.
You can get great benefits from walking at any time of day, but I’m going to suggest doing it when you get up in the morning before the rest of your day gets in the way.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for a while, you know how good walking is for you. It uses your body the way it was designed to be used. It’s not intense so you can do it every day. You can do it on a break at work or if you only have a few minutes.
Here are 5 good reasons that you may not have heard about:
- Sitting for long periods is BAD for you and really wrecks havoc on your metabolism. This is true even if you spend 30-60 minutes in the gym, even if you push yourself hard. If you sit the rest of the time, your body will suffer.
Walking is the antidote.
Walking is easy. You don’t need special clothing, special equipment (although a good pair of shoes is a great idea), or a lot of time. You can do it wherever you are.
Walking at any time of day is good, but it’s especially good first thing in the morning.
If you walk first thing in the morning (before breakfast), you get the added advantage of fasted cardio. Fasted cardio pushes your body to burn stored fat. This can help with weight loss and better blood sugar control too.
- The increased circulation means less soreness (and more glowing healthy skin). Light exercise, like walking, helps to relieve sore muscles and joints. Increased circulation leads to better overall functioning of your body and healthier skin too.
- Natural light is good for your brain and your sleep. Especially morning light. It’s important to get sunlight or natural light on your eyes as soon as you wake. This helps to set your cortisol/melatonin cycles and help your sleep. The light energy you get from natural light comes through even on cloudy days so it’s important to get outside in the morning even if the weather isn’t great.
If you live in the northern parts of the country, it’s probably dark when you get up in the depths of winter. Try to get and spend a few moments (if you’re not already out there walking J) in the early light. Or at least get outdoors and get some natural light at some point during the day). It really makes a difference.
- Walking outdoors reduces eye fatigue. When you sit in front of a computer a lot, your hip muscles start to constrict and become less functional. The same thing happens to your eye muscles.
If you get outside and walk, you have to look around you to stay safe (and hopefully enjoy your surroundings). Look up at the tops of trees and at things that are far away. This is the opposite of what your eyes do in front of a computer (looking close up and down).
It’ll help keep your eye muscles working better and your eyes functioning better too.
And here’s something really cool
- Related to eye movement, is a thing called optic flow.
When you’re sitting at a computer, what you see is two dimensional and fixed in front of you. This is not optic flow.
When you’re walking, things that don’t move are going by. You walk forward, trees stay in the same spot. This is optic flow. It’s the motion pattern your brain detects through your eye as you move through your environment.
Optic flow has a calming effect on your nervous system. It quiets the nerve circuits responsible for detecting threats (stress). Even more interesting is that optic flow reduces stress in the same way EMDR (eye movement therapy used to treat PTSD) can help heal trauma.*
These days, we need all the optic flow we can get.
What's this have to do with your skin?
Beauty, radiance, glow…we all want these things, no matter what our age. And guess what? All of these come from the inside as well as the outside. Which means taking good care of yourself on all levels-physical, mental, and spiritual.
In my humble opinion, walking can help with all of these.
Just like a good skincare routine, the key to getting results is consistency.
It’s easy to skip your morning routine, especially if you’re working from home or not going out. Please don’t. It sets your skin up for a good day. It also sends a subtle (good) message to yourself that you are cared for.
Vitamin C serum (DewDrops)
Peptide serum if you want more moisture and firming (SnowDrops)
Sunscreen (All Weather Protection SPF 30)
It’s also easy to skip your evening routine, especially if you didn’t put on any makeup. Don’t.
Your face still needs to cleansed from the grime of your day. Night is the time when your skin renews and refreshes itself, so the products you use at night are the ones that the heavy lifting in the nourish and restore departments.
More moisture, of you need it (RainDrops)
Even if every ounce of you just wants to stay inside and hunker down right now, I really hope you don’t. Get outside when you can (tomorrow morning?), take a walk, appreciate your world, and take good care of your skin.