Four Habits for a Happier Winter

And these habits only take 5 minutes a day

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As we enter the winter months in the midst of the pandemic, the less hours of daylight and colder weather on top of social distancing and mask wearing could take a serious toll on your happiness and wellbeing. As a life coach helping my clients and social media followers reach their goals, I’m committed to providing as many resources as possible to help you cultivate more happiness and wellbeing in your life. Given the conditions we’re living in for these next few months I’d like to offer 4 habits for you to develop so you stay happy and well this winter.

I write a lot about the power of habits and why they are so important in your life. Researchers have found that on any given day 45-90% of our thoughts and actions are habitual, and these habits could be helping you be happy or could be hurting your levels of happiness and wellbeing. The key is to be intentional with building new habits in your life that help your wellbeing and happiness and over time break bad habits that hinder your progress and happiness. Here are my top 4 recommended habits to have in your life during these tough winter months.

  1. Exercise for 5+ Minutes a Day. You probably know that exercise and moving your body is good for you, but ask yourself right now how often you do it. Not only does exercise help you prevent a number of chronic diseases and helps you control your weight, it improves your mental wellbeing. According to the National Institute of Health, “during exercise, your body releases chemicals that can improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed.” While the Center for Disease Control recommends you get about 150 minutes of exercise each week, or about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, I recommend that you make a daily habit of at least 5 minutes of exercise a day and work your way up to 30 minutes a day 7 days a week. If you’re not exercising at all right now, 5 minutes a day hopefully seems doable. Over time you can build your stamina and get the recommended amount of weekly exercise. The key is to do something that you enjoy, whether it’s jogging, biking, dancing, weight training, group exercise classes, or anything else that gets your heart rate up and stops you from sitting at your desk or couch. When you make exercise a part of your day, your mood and your body will thank you.
  2. Leisurely Walk Outside for 5+ Minutes a Day. I know some consider walking a form of exercise, but slow walking is actually a restorative movement for your body that is different than speed walking or other types of exercise that gets your heart rate up. Walking outside is not only restorative for your body, but it gives you the chance to breathe fresh air and get a dose of Vitamin D sunshine, which also boosts your mood. Use this walking time with a loved one by either finding a walking buddy to walk with or call a friend or family member on your walks and talk to them as you stroll around the neighborhood or local park. Don’t let the bad weather deter you. Wear lots of layers if it’s cold, bring an umbrella on days it rains every second of the day, but get a walk in every day. I’ve been walking every day, rain or shine, for 30 minutes since March 2020 and it’s been a game changer for me.
  3. Schedule Social Time with Loved Ones. Keeping social connections in the age of social distancing during a pandemic is crucial for your wellbeing. There are many ways to stay connected to the friends and family you love despite not being able to get together with them in person. You can do this by scheduling phone or Zoom catch-ups on a weekly basis, creating a private Facebook group so you can update each other with pictures and other posts, or sending an old fashion card in the mail that tells them how much they mean to you. Social connection is so critical for your wellbeing and happiness. During this period of time when we’re told to be 6 feet a part from those outside our household, staying socially connected is vital.
  4. Record Your Small Wins Each Night Before Bed. Reflecting on your day and writing down a list of all the things you did that you’re proud of is a game changer for your happiness levels. We are motivated when there’s progress in our lives, and taking 5 minutes at the end of the day to reflect on what went right in your day gets you in a positive state of mind before bed and allows your subconscious mind to keep thinking about those positive things as you sleep at night. I’ve been doing this nightly journal habit for months now and it truly helps me remember that even the small steps towards progress on my goals matter, and I always can come up with at least 1 or 2 things I did that made a difference in the day.

I hope these recommended 4 Habits for a Happier Winter inspire you to implement them in your life as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder. Remember to implement the 3 step process in creating a new habit so these actions become habitual in your life and you’ll be well on your way to a happier self this winter.

If you’d like more support in cultivating your happiness and wellbeing, please reach out to me to schedule your first coaching call. I’d love to help!

Liz Bapasola, Ed.D. is a Life Coach for Liz Bapasola & Associates, LLC. She writes often about the power of habits, mindset, and strategies for reaching your goals. She can be reached at www.lizbapasola.com

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