7 Ways to Cure the Winter Blues

Almost to the end of January already!  After the end of a long, drawn out sinus infection, the weather and lack of sunshine in Chicago has been bringing on my winter blues.

Recently, my cousin and one of my best friends/twin just moved to Denmark.  She mentioned that the winters in Denmark are long and cold, much similar to Chicago’s, so she introduced me to the Danish custom of Hygge (pronounced  hy-ooguh… someone please correct me on that). Hygge is what gets the Danish through the cold nights and what keeps them such a happy country. Hygge is a state of warmth, comfort, and happiness. It is to appreciate the people and things in your life. You can experience it all year long, in the winter, and even in the summer. Really, it is a state of mind. Here are some things I’ve been trying each weekend to embrace the concept of Hygge and make it feel a bit warmer to lift my winter spirits.

1) Listen to warm weather music. For real, put on some reggae and island music and get yourself a young coconut. This can be fun and mentally relieving.

Young coconut

Young coconut

2) Get active! If it’s a sunny day, it’s not snowing and above 30 degrees, go for a brisk walk outside and get your vitamin D.

3) Make a warm drink like tea with lemon, or a hot cocoa to warm up your insides.

Warm tea with lemon

Warm tea with lemon

4) Take a bath with some essential oils. If you’re a renter and don’t feel like your bathtub is all that clean, take a nice steamy shower and put on that island music!

5) What is your favorite summer meal? If you have a grill at home, grill your favorite veggies or burgers to get some summer tasties. Fruit available? Make a quick summer fruit salad by chopping up some pineapple and strawberries. Yum.

6) Head to a place with lots of sunlight. It’s not always sunny in Chicago, but when it is, and it’s too cold to explore outside, go to a coffee shop, restaurant/bar, or library with lots of windows to let the sunlight in. Some of my favorite cozy, well lit indoor areas in Chicago include Summerhouse Santa Monica, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Lincoln Park Conservatory, or Next Door Cafe or the Starbucks on Rush street.

7) Sun setting soon? Light a few candles and relax! Do some light stretching or snuggle with a book or some board games with friends.

Candle time

Candle time

What ideas do you have to make your winter more bearable? Have you found hygge?

Hungry for more,

The Midwest Marmot

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Sick Workouts

This post is about some sick work outs, literally.

Unfortunately, I’ve been sick with a sinus infection for the past week and with that, I haven’t done much exercise, with the exception of my ab crunches every time I cough. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, grogginess, and very fluffy belly. Although exercising may be the last thing you want to do, some light movements or fresh air can make you mentally and physically feel better.

One general rule is to check whether your symptoms are above the neck. If you have sore throat, runny, stuffy nose or headache, you may be ok to do some light exercise. Fever or body aches? Skip the work out and REST. Hydration and sleep are the key to recovery.

What are some easy exercises you can do to get out of the funk?

*For these exercises, skip the gym or fitness class. Focus on doing these exercises in your own home and on your own. Avoid places where the sickness can spread to others or you can get worse.

1) Mild stretching and yoga- check out the candle light stretching post for some stretches. I did a few yoga videos by Tara Stiles which only take 10 minutes. Very quick and easy.

2) Take a walk outside – with a friend, with a dog, or with your wonderful self. If it’s a sunny day, it’s not snowing, and above 30 degrees, go for a quick walk outside, about 10 – 20 minutes. In Chicago, it is FRIGID, but getting fresh air can make you feel a lot better than being stuck in bed. The cold air won’t hurt you, but may dry out your sinuses so be weary, and bundle up! Make sure you wear all your winter accessories – hat, scarf, mittens, face mask (cover up your nose and mouth)!

3) If you want to try to break a sweat, do a few jumping jacks, ice skaters, mountain climbers, squat jumps, and running in place. Do each exercise for one minute for a total of 5 minutes of continuous exercise. Then end with a stretch. Do not exert yourself and go at your own pace.

Have you gotten sick this winter? What are you doing to stay fit?

Hungry for more,

The Midwest Marmot

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A New Year

Happy New Year! How did you celebrate the new year?

I know it is time to make your resolutions and kick the old bad habits you made in 2014. Usually I spend each January 1st making a list of new habits I want to form. 1) Appreciate the things you have 2) Exercise everyday 3) Stop eating french fries

The list really goes on and on. There are so many goals, and sometimes they are so vague. How do you stick to these resolutions?

I am taking a new approach this year to find inspiration in one quote or one phrase that will form better habits to make 2015 a year that is productive and life enriching.

The quote I found is by Mark Twain.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Here is what speaks to me about this quote:

1) It’s stating that you should be thankful for what you have – A life to live. Do the things that matter to you that bring you joy and happiness. Do something for yourself.

2) The day you find out what your purpose is. This is such a deep and thoughtful statement. Sometimes I think about what my purpose is here, not in a cryptic way, but in a big picture way. What am I going to contribute to society, my family, my community? I don’t think you have one purpose. You can serve multiple purposes through different periods in your life, but what you contribute to those around you, during those different periods has a ripple effect. If you can figure out what your purpose is at a point in time, you could use that skill set to effect and help, or change others.

This quote really inspires me to figure out what my purpose is and to be grateful for what I have at the moment. My focus for 2015 is to seek purpose in my every day. You can go through the motions of your daily routine; in comfort, watching tv, reading the paper, eating the same food, seeing the same people, or you can change and make decisions to do something better for yourself.

Find a quote or a phrase that really speaks to you. I checked out pinterest for some ideas. It can be something simple, related to fitness, health, a career, or a hobby.

Use that phrase to find out what your focus can be on 2015. Hopefully this will inspire you to try something different and change who you were in 2014. Either way, you don’t need to make a list of resolutions, especially if they are the same ones you make every year.

What quote or phrase are you focusing on for 2015?

Hungry for more,

The Midwest Marmot