The end of daylight saving time this weekend means we get an extra hour of sleep Saturday night/Sunday morning as the clock falls back. Without a doubt, bonus, but it also means the days are getting shorter and the sun will set earlier. (Is there anything worse than sitting at your desk not-so-long-after lunch when it’s pitch-black out?) Whether you love it or hate it, one thing is certain: That tiny one-hour change just has a way of messing with our sleep schedules and energy levels and has the power to make us feel a little “off” for a few days—or even weeks. Dr. Nina Smiley, director of Mindfulness Programming at Mohonk Mountain House and co-author of The Three Minute Meditator, shares these simple tips to make it all a little bit easier.
Get Outside and Breathe
For some of us, the change in time is the official warning siren that temperatures are dropping as the days become shorter. “During this time, it’s still important to get outdoors and breathe! Keep it simple—a short, brisk walk will boost your metabolism and help you get some much-needed vitamin D. As you breathe in, feel the sensation of cool, tingling air infusing your body with energy,” Smiley says. “At Mohonk Mountain House, we offer outdoor forest-bathing walks in winter to encourage guests to experience the sensations—sights, smells, sounds, the feeling of being outdoors— that make nature so healing. You can do this at home by focusing on each sense, one at a time.”
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Nourish Your Body by Eating Mindfully
Smiley says many of us start to crave heavy, rich foods as a form of comfort in the winter, and that mix makes you feel sluggish and lethargic—especially at the beginning of the cold weather season. “Focusing on eating mindfully, taking time to truly taste each mouthful and feel how your body is responding. It will help you understand that what you crave may be different from what you need. Honor what your body is telling you by getting enough seasonal fruits, veggies, whole grains and protein to support energy levels and enhance well-being.”
Stay Active and Watch Your “Self Talk”
Of course, with fewer hours of sunlight, we may be tempted to abandon our typical workout routines and head straight home after work, and Smiley stresses being mindful of our “self talk” to help stay on track. “If you hear yourself saying, ‘I’ll just skip today…’ and realize that you’ve been saying this for a week, it’s time to be honest with yourself. Get back on track with the gym or switch it up with some seasonal outdoor specials (try cross country skiing, ice skating or snowshoeing) to increase endorphins. It will boost your mood and help you stay energized throughout the season.”
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Sleep Transition? Don’t Stress!
If your normal sleep patterns are disrupted during daylight savings, accept that it may take a few days to get back on track. “Instead of worrying about it and creating a stress response that can keep you up at night, simply recognize that this is transitional. Stick to your normal sleep routine during daylight savings and trust that your sleep patterns will stabilize. If you’re wakeful, try some mindful breathing before bed or when you wake up at 3 a.m. Focus on being present in each moment with each breath, as you let thoughts go.”
Create Mindful Moments Throughout the Day
Smiley says that daylight savings—when the seasons are changing and our schedules are adapting—is a time when we need to nurture ourselves. “Taking even a little time each day to meditate or practice mindfulness can help do so.” Some very simple tips she recommends: “Change your password to something like ‘Breathe123,’ which will remind you to take a few slow, full breaths when you go online. Be present in the moment when you wash your hands, simply enjoying the sensations of water, soap, slick smoothness of skin, and the sound of water. Focusing on being present in the moment and being grateful for all that you have can enhance your well-being as the seasons change.”
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