Winter blues stock

Rather than sit and yearn for warm weather, there are a number of ways to actively step out of a winter funk. Local experts offer their advice on how to make the most out of, arguably, the least wonderful time of the year.

Winter in Illinois can be just as tough on the mind as it is the body. Our moods tend to take a hit as the decrease in temperature correlates to a decrease in happiness. And, with social distancing continuing to be in effect, this will make the winter more difficult than normal.

Rather than sit and yearn for warm weather, there are a number of ways to actively step out of a winter funk. Local experts offer their advice on how to make the most out of, arguably, the least wonderful time of the year.

Exercise

This might be one of the biggest “no-duh” suggestions ever, but it really works. Elle Woods summed it up perfectly when she said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” Exercise is a natural way to enhance your mood, which is particularly helpful in rough winter months.

Mary Gramling, owner of Gramling Fitness in Herscher, and Jill Fulton, Gramling trainer, said many people who are new to joining a gym or starting an exercise routine often do so with a friend. However, that accountability and partnership motivation can wear off over time. Gramling and Fulton both agree determining your own motivation is the key to success.

“You’re not always going to have motivation, so you’ve got to figure out your ‘why,’” Gramling said. “Your ‘Why are you doing this? Why is this so important to you? What is it that’s driving you to feel better?’”

When the partnership motivation runs out, you will have that “why” to help you push through. Gramling also mentioned part of a successful exercise journey is finding what works best for you. Whether that is finding a good gym home or working out at home.

“Every gym can promise that their gym is perfect for you, but it’s not. It’s not a one-size-fits-all,” Gramling said. “You’ve got to find what works for you. And not everybody is into going to the gym. A lot of people are doing at-home stuff or online.”

Finding the motivation and time to exercise can be difficult, but this will truly help lift your spirits during the dark and cold season.

Enjoy the snow

Exercise always can be found in the form of going outside and being active. And just because it’s cold doesn’t mean this outdoor activity has to pause for the winter.

If there is a decent snow this winter, why not take advantage of it? There’s no rule that states enjoying the snow is just for children, so get outside and build a snowman that would put Anna and Elsa to shame.

Because you’re utilizing the space outdoors, gather a few friends for a socially distant snowball fight. This sounds ridiculous as a written suggestion, but the execution is a blast.

Take your vitamins

During the winter, we often suffer from a lack of exposure to sunshine. As a result, we also get a lack of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is known for playing an important role in our mood, so don’t let it escape you. Pick up some Vitamin D supplements during your next shopping trip as a way to increase your mood. Of course, talk to your doctor first before implementing a new regimen.

Additionally, after the new year is the time we all set goals to be healthier, so try to get your full servings of fruits and vegetables, especially during this time, as those healthy foods will give you natural energy for the shorter days.

Virtual book clubs

While it’s easy to get sucked into a routine of sleep, work, Netflix, repeat, it’s necessary to stay in touch with the outside world. Make it a point to do a video chat with friends or family once per week.

Consider gathering a group of friends to form a virtual book club that can meet weekly. This is the perfect opportunity to include friends who don’t live nearby and wouldn’t be able to attend in-person meetings. Each person in the group can take a turn selecting a book for the group to read.

Cassidy Steinke, adult services supervisor at Bourbonnais Public Library, suggests a mystery novel is a great way to kick off a book club, as the twists and turns found in mysteries are an easy way to spark group conversation.

“Romances are really great to discuss as well, especially because they typically are a happier subject,” Steinke said. “This is the time of the year when you want to think of the positive things.”

Steinke mentioned there are a number of exciting romance titles releasing now and during the year that would be good to keep an eye on for future book clubs.

“The book world is really exploding with these awesome books.”

Because it might be difficult to schedule a consistent time to meet virtually with friends for a book club, there is also the option to join the book club Steinke hosts through the library. The club is being held virtually, and the next meeting is at 10 a.m. Tuesday via Zoom. The club will be meeting the second Tuesday of the month for the next six months.

For more information on this book club, email csteinke@bourbonnaislibrary.org. Bourbonnais Public Library has resumed regular library hours and will still be offering curbside pick-up. Kankakee Public Library and Bradley Public Library is still doing curbside only. Visit lions-online.org and bradleylibrary.org for pick-up hours and virtual events.

Bourbonnais Public Library has resumed regular library hours and still will be offering curbside pick-up. Kankakee Public Library and Bradley Public Library still are doing curbside only. Go to lions-online.org and bradleylibrary.org for pick-up hours and virtual events.