By Sylvia Karcz, Contributing Blogger
I’m convinced that there are two types of people in this world. Winter sport fanatics with science-defying reptilian skin that start howling when those first below-zero days of the year hit, and: the rest of us. (And I say that as someone who really really loves activities involving frozen water in all forms.)
The simple fact is that keeping the stoke high during the winter months can be hard sometimes. The days are shorter, and colder, and adventuring outdoors takes far more clothing, planning, and preparation. It’s only natural that enthusiasm teeters and we need an extra push from time to time. Especially when heading outside on days that aren’t storybook-perfect.
Trust that keeping your body moving during these long, temperamental months is key to sustaining inspiration and health during the winter, both physically and mentally. And finding ways to get your endorphins firing will pay off.
Need a boost? Heed these winter-tested tips for staying motivated and staying outside on the frostiest of days, and help kick those winter blues to the curb.
1. Join a Group & Get Outside with Others
It doesn’t matter if you’re venturing out with friends or strangers, group outings keep us accountable when it comes to being active in the outdoors. A run in the snow at your leisure is one thing, but a run in the snow at a specific time with specific people is a whole other!
You’ll be more apt to stick to a plan if you’re meeting up with others, it’s as simple as that. So, plan a group date with your favorite people or look for meetups and events that align with your interests. The more the merrier!
2. Schedule Outdoor “Firsts”
Ever wanted to try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing? Or perhaps you’ve been meaning to check out an ice rink in town, or finally plan your first winter camping trip? There’s no better time than now!
Trying something new is an invaluable way to spice up a winter day- or a season, even. Also: who knows what undiscovered passion lies out there for you! Do your research, make a plan, and make it happen. Maybe even invite a friend! Keep feeding your curiosity during winter and you’ll no doubt be rewarded.
3. Proper Gear
Know that saying, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear? Well, it’s true. Proper gear seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many forget to layer or skimp on quality when dressing for winter activities. One thing is certain: it’s an easy way for a fun winter activity to become anything but fun, quickly.
The right gear is designed to keep you smiling in the most extreme of weather, so if you want to play outside this winter, make sure you’re outfitted for it. It may be the difference between enjoying a winter backpacking trip and suffering through it. Or, the difference between getting out there in the first place!
4. Consistent Exercise- No Matter What!
It’s a known fact that our bodies work harder being outside in colder temperatures because they’re on overdrive keeping us warm. Hence, more endorphins! And endorphins make us feel good. So, it’s a fairly simple equation: moving outside during winter makes us feel good! Neurons fire, energy levels increase, mood improves, and muscles and joints rejoice.
Even though stepping out in frigid weather for a run, hike or a quick workout seems daunting initially, your body and your brain will thank you for the consistent exercise. Even ten minutes of movement a day can have a drastic impact on your mental well-being, so brave that cold. Make a schedule or a goal calendar if you have to. Make workout dates with others if you have to. But try and make a routine of it, because it’s worth it.
5. Warm Liquids
Whether you need to elevate the mood on a winter hike when the going gets rough or want to start a ski-tour descent with a full body warm-up, packing a thermos with your favorite hot beverage can be a game-changer when adventuring outside during winter.
I learned early on that preparing a small batch of tea, apple cider, or chocolatey coffee is a must for long days outside. Even if it adds a bit of extra weight, it’s a refresher like no other, and every ounce is worth it, every time. A hot beverage is one of the simplest ways to increase body temperature, focus on the present, and take some time to appreciate your environment and what you’re doing outside in the first place.
6. Plan a Getaway. Or Five.
New places are exciting. And doing your favorite winter things in new places? Even more exciting! Stay inspired this winter season by planning getaways to new parks, new nooks of your home state, or even a new country! Whether it’s for a weekend or a few days, exploring passions in new areas –and making plans to keep doing it!– is a motivator like no other.
Personally, I dedicate time every week to researching new trails, reading about mountain towns I’ve never been to, and day dreaming of winter trips I’ve always wanted to take. Even if all the getaways don’t materialize right away, the act of planning is pretty darn stimulating in itself. We all need things to look forward it, after all, and making a plan to travel somewhere new is one of the best ways to keep the winter stoke alive.