Call it the winter blues, cabin fever, or maybe even your least favorite time of the year. Winter typically means staying inside and dreaming of warmer days. For some people, the early nights and indoor lifestyle can lead to restlessness, irritability, and sometimes depression. But cabin fever doesn’t have to bog you down this season.

Stay active

The winter months may change your work-out routine, but they don’t have to stop it! Bundle up and go for a walk with friends. Combine your work-out with chores. A well-paced and complete house cleaning can serve as a great cardio workout. Playing in the snow can be a real work-out, too. Think snowball fights and sledding competitions. However, be careful with vigorous activity in the cold if you are at risk for heart and lung problems. Any unusual shortness of breath or chest pain should be evaluated right away.

You can also move your exercise routine inside. Pull out those old work-out videos. (Laughing through the 80’s hairstyles can help burn extra calories.) Try cleaning the house at high speed. You will be surprised how quickly you can break a sweat. Getting your blood flowing, even for just a few minutes each day, is great for your heart, muscles, and brain.

Continue your social calendar

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t be a social butterfly. As long as roads are safe, head out to dinner with friends or a museum with the kids. Breaking social commitments simply because of weather can only add to the disconnected feelings of cabin fever.

Exercise your brain

To keep your mind from freezing up this winter, try some mind games. For kids, keep them thinking with simple math skills. When baking cookies, cut the recipe in half and let the young ones figure out the fractions. Sharpen their writing skills by asking them to write thank you cards for each of their holiday gifts.

For adults, crosswords puzzles and problem-solving activity books can help. Squeeze in a few word games while watching TV by naming as many animals as you can during a commercial break. For something a little more intense, search for websites with games and puzzles dedicated to keeping your mind sharp year-round.

Staying healthy

Since we are spending more time indoors during the winter, we are typically spending more time together. For big families, that can mean more germs and more colds. Washing hands is the best way to prevent the spread of germs, even if everyone at home is healthy. When one person in the family is sick, it only becomes more important to wash hands frequently, avoid sharing drinks and food, and clean surfaces frequently.

Enjoy winter for what it is

Winter may not be your favorite time of year, but it is what it is. Winter means comfy sweaters, hot chocolate, and snowy evenings. It only happens a few months out of the year, so make the most of it. And remember six months ago when we were sweating through sweltering temperatures in the height of summer? You wished for this -- the comforts of a cool, snowy winter.

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