How to kick winter blues in the butt on their way out the door

Like grizzly bears, Canadian guys are known to hibernate in caves (man caves, that is). Unlike grizzlies, this downtime doesn’t last all winter long.

But human hibernation can last longer than it should. Just ask Nathan Grundy. A couple years back, the thirtysomething office worker holed himself up in his Toronto apartment for three days when his winter blues took a turn for the worse. He was feeling so down that he didn’t want to see anyone — not even his friends and family — and hadn’t been able to work for a month. Thankfully, Nathan was able to bounce back — read his full story here — with these easy tips that any guy can use to beat winter blues:

Little wins…for the win!

Every morning, Nathan writes down three “little wins” he wants to accomplish that day, be it at work or in his spare time. “Before, my to-do lists were daunting because there was too much on them. I’d get a few things done, but end up feeling like a failure. Now, I keep my daily list to a max of three. Earning those little wins means my day was successful. Anything I get done beyond that is a bonus, or I can use the leftover time to do something I enjoy.”

And if that means retiring to his man cave, so be it!

Other little wins can also add up to big accomplishments. Swapping fries for salad at lunch, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, can help you lose weight and get fit. Practising deep breathing, and drinking more water, can help you quit smoking. Cutting out coffee after noon can help you sleep better. Start with one win, and by making it a habit some big-time benefits are bound to follow.

Set the tone

Like many guys, “the first thing I have to do every morning is take the dog out,” Nathan says. “That fresh air and movement, as well as Winnie’s excitement, gets the day started in a positive way. It’s infectious. You meet other people along the way, and you get to enjoy the canine enthusiasm together.”

Whether walking Winnie or hitting the gym early, Nathan uses morning exercise to get his day started on the right foot. “Getting the blood flowing feels good, which leads to feeling good when you go into work, and then the positive vibe snowballs from there.”

Think you can’t fit a little exercise into your busy mornings? Think again! From shovelling snow to walking the kids to school, exercise can take many convenient forms. Walking briskly for 30 minutes is a legit form of exercise — it burns around 250 calories — with guys who walk five city blocks in a day lowering their risk of heart attack by 25 percent. On that note…

Dog it

It’s true: Rover can help with much more than adorable YouTube videos. Research suggests that compared to people who don’t have dogs, the heart rate and blood pressure of dog owners is steadier, and moderates more quickly, during times of stress. This reduces the negative effects of stress on your mind and body.

A new British study also suggests that owning dogs can strongly affect how much people exercise. The dog owners who took part were about four times more likely than other people to walk for at least 150 minutes each week. In fact, dog owners spent nearly 300 minutes each week walking with their dogs, which was about 200 more minutes of walking per week than people without dogs.

Man’s best friend indeed!

Look for positives

“Why waste energy on negative things?” Nathan asks. Instead, he suggests focusing on the positives in your life: friends, family, movies, music, sports, activities you enjoy, and yes, your four-legged friends.

What do you like best about winter? Share your snow-day ritual in the comments below!

About the Author

Adam Bisby

Adam Bisby

Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. His award-winning stories have appeared in The Globe and Mail , Toronto Star and National Post newspapers, in magazines like Explore, Reader's Digest, International Traveller and Canadian Family, and on websites including MSN, MSN Canada, and DontChangeMuch.ca. Visit Adam's website for more details on his award winning work.

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