Do you love winter? I can’t say that it’s my favorite time of year, though I appreciate that the frigid season keeps away warm-weather creatures that might take up residence in Ohio without a significant cold period.
Over the years, I’ve come to enjoy winter more. The best approach I have adopted came from a former boss who suggested taking up winter activities, especially if I wasn’t keen on the season. Looking forward to winter activities can change your perspective about this time of year, shifting your focus from the negative to the positive aspects. He helped me to change my attitude toward the cold and have more fun, even on the chilliest days.
This is the power of framing. Wouldn’t you rather GET to do an activity, versus having to do an activity? I know I would.
Of course, part of making this work is not only viewing winter in a positive light and selecting activities that appeal to you but also preparing for the activities you choose.
Wearing sweat-wicking clothing and layering for warmth can help you to stay comfortable when you are exercising outside. Gloves and/or mittens are a must, and head and face coverings can keep your ears and nose protected. Also, changing into dry clothes after exercising can keep you comfortable and warm if you aren’t able to shower right away.
Depending on the activity, you may need more or less protection from the elements. For example, when running, we generate more body heat and require fewer layers than when walking.
(Note that I happily layered two pairs of athletic pants over running tights this past Saturday, as 12 degrees was colder than ideal. If I had been walking, I might have opted for four layers!)
Using appropriate gear can make your experience more positive. Whether you are hiking, ice skating, skiing, or sledding, this includes choosing clothing that allows you to move more easily, in addition to using specialized items such as cleats, ice skates, skis, or a sled.
You don’t have to exercise outside in the winter (or at all) if you don’t want to. Exercising consistently is something that I struggled with for a long time, despite understanding the benefits and wanting to build a strong exercise habit. Things have clicked for me over the past decade through a combination of self-compassion, exploration, and support.
Releasing any perceived expectations about what you think you should do — and focusing instead on what you want to do and what you can do — can help you appreciate wintertime and build a seasonal exercise routine that you enjoy.
…And sprinkling fun in between the snowflakes doesn’t hurt when you’re dressed for the weather.