Tips for men to beat the winter blues

Tips for men to beat the winter blues

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 of 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 mental health tips that any guy can use. Here’s what to do to beat the winter blues: 

Be active in the morning

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…

Get a dog

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 are steadier, and moderates more quickly, during times of stress. This reduces the negative effects of stress on your mind and body.

A 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!

Shorten your to-do list

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 a 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 afternoon can help you sleep better. Start with one win, and by making it a habit, some big-time benefits are bound to follow.

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!

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An awesome triple play: More ‘me-time,’ better health, and saving money!

An awesome triple play: More ‘me-time,’ better health, and saving money!

It’s been said that life is a lot like baseball. This may be true in some ways, but NOT when it comes to triple plays.

Over the course of Major League Baseball’s 2018 regular season, batters stepped up to the plate 184,534 times. (Side note: That’s a lot of hot dogs.) How many of those at-bats ended in a triple play? TWO! To sum up, getting three outs on one play is very, very rare.

Getting triple plays in LIFE, however, can happen every single day! How does that happen? Just look at Arun Kumar…

Play No. 1: More ‘me-time’

The married father of two from Waterloo, Ont., has started waking up before sunrise on weekdays so he has time to do what HE wants to do. “That way, it feels like things are starting on the right foot, and I don’t feel like every other step is a sacrifice.”

So that one small change — waking up earlier — leads to one awesome play: More “me-time”!

Of course, waking up extra-early means an earlier bedtime. “I’m passed out on the couch by 10!” Arun laughs. “You put the kids to bed, spend some time with your spouse and watch a talk show or something, and the next thing you know it’s 10:30. That has the potential to derail everything. So I make a choice: Do I want to get a good sleep, or do I want to mindlessly watch TV? Mindless TV-watching can be awesome in the moment, but then afterwards you have regrets. But I never regret a good night’s sleep!”

Arun chooses Zs over TV most of the time. But not all the time. “Sometimes there’s a show I really want to watch, or I want to go out with my spouse or with friends. If I make that choice, I live with it. A bit of flexibility and forgiveness is important. If you take two steps forward and one step back, you’re still one step ahead. And if you’re up late with your friends or your spouse or your children, is it really a step back?”

Play No. 2: A healthier life

Arun puts his new me-time to good use. On weekdays he wakes up early, chugs a bottle of water — always a great health move — and feeds his cats (which is a great health move for them too). Then he enjoys a coffee while filling a bag with the breakfast, lunch and snacks he prepared the night before, as well as with gear for his morning gym routine. “That way, I have time for some exercise before I start work.”

By using some of his me-time to get active, Arun is doing his body and mind some serious favours. “I feel like I’ve accomplished something for me, so I can devote the rest of the day to helping others. I feel a sense of accomplishment and pride, and that carries throughout the day.”

That’s just one example of how self-care can make a big difference in your life! Fact is, it’s easy to fit a workout into just a few minutes of me-time. Here’s how to make it happen.

Play No. 3: Saving Money

By prepping his workday meals the night before, Arun saves money over restaurants or take-out. He also saves time by not sitting around waiting for the cheque. Plus, by preparing his own food, he’s eating healthier. That’s right: It’s a triple play within a triple play!

Now, if only we could get paid $47 million a year to do it…

Do you have a recipe that’s always a home run? Go ahead and share your delicious secret in the comments below!

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