Old Man Winter is upon us in full force. As you mentally prepare to brace for the cold each day, know that what you are not alone in feeling frustrated. For many people, finding the motivation to be active and positive during winter months can be difficult, and the reason why may be even more obvious than you think. According to naturopath and health and wellness educator Akua Gray, ND, “If you were to take a survey of people who live in cold-climate areas, the majority of them will tell you they don’t like, they have just gotten used to it. And the getting ‘used to it’ is either bundling up enough to manage necessary mobility or staying out it. Winter is a forced existence by nature that is very limiting and often unpleasant. Some people are not mentally and emotionally up to the challenge.”

If you are among those who are not up to the challenge, there are steps you can take to make your winter more productive. Gray suggests indoor exercise, creating a healthy family food challenge to stay active in the kitchen and  good old-fashioned housework. “Winter cleaning gets the body moving while inside and adds a new air to the house. Rearrange the furniture, hang winter curtains, get ready for a new spring wardrobe by clearing out old clothes,” suggests the naturopath. And if breaking a sweat in cleaning mode doesn’t help, skip the hassle and head to a warmer climate for the weekend.

If you can’t take a warm getaway, herbs can play a critical role in your mood during the colder months. “Plant-based multivitamins like alfalfa, 4PG by New Body Products or wild blue-green algae keep cellular nutrition at adequate levels with decreased mobility. Bee pollen capsules are a great natural energy booster and fat burner,” Gray says. There’s also nothing better than what Mother Nature has to offer. Greens are highly nutritious and keep the iron levels up in our blood, which aids the body’s tolerance to fight the cold, while proteins such as beans maintain muscle mass and feed the brain.

If these natural remedies do not help, you may need to seek professional advice. “If your winter mood goes sour for more than a couple of weeks, you may need to talk with a certified counselor to make sure depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is not setting in,” explains Gray.

Never hesitate to put your health first.  Here’s to a speedy winter!