Ring in International Yoga Day with a few poses for your practice.
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When the clocks go back, we can almost smell the sense of disappointment in the air. The days are shorter and colder, and less sunlight can really have an impact on our mood. For some, wintertime can bring on a form of depression called seasonal affective disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression influenced by the changing of seasons. It normally sets in after Labor Day, and symptoms become more intense by January or February. The lack of sunlight can cause decreased concentration, increased appetite, moodiness, social withdrawal, and fatigue.
While some might brush it off as being extra moody, or just “winter blues,” it’s much more than that. SAD is a real form of depression that can be dependent on hormone levels, temperature, and exposure to natural light, which directly influences the body’s production of melatonin.
Studies show that SAD is more prevalent in areas that have longer, colder winters. So, if you’re feeling sensitive to all the snow or down in the dumps this season, here are a few ways to battle seasonal affective disorder.
SAD is a form of depression, so it’s best to get it diagnosed by a mental health professional. Doctors usually suggest a combination of light therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, which is a form of talk therapy, to deal with SAD. Talk therapy can help to shift your mindset and gives you the tools to manage stress and mood changes.
The go-to treatment for SAD, light therapy is a tried-and-true option for easing seasonal depression. Mimicking outdoor light, a light therapy box is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep. The best time to use the light therapy box is the first hour of waking up, so try it out with your morning cup of coffee. Before ordering anything on Amazon, talk to your doctor about the best treatment. Once you get the go-ahead, you can find plenty of affordable devices online!
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can help to manage seasonal affective disorder, especially if it’s outside. If it’s snowy and freezing, maybe try out a cycling class (and pick a bike closest to the window!).
People with SAD tend to have trouble sleeping at night and getting up each morning. Sticking to a regular schedule helps to expose you to consistent light and keeps you motivated to get out and do the things you love. Making a conscious effort to make plans (and stick to them) can improve your mood. If you really want to hold yourself accountable, make plans to go to a yoga class with a friend.
There is healing power in aromatherapy. Essential oils like bergamot, cardamom, jasmine, and orange can help to usher in brightness, heighten the senses, and balance emotions. Need tips on what to put in your diffuser? Here’s a helpful blend from Aromatics during these winter months when SAD takes its toll.
Have you ever watched that oh-so-sweaty person leave their workout machine without wiping it down? Yuck. The Clorox wipes, paper towels, bottles of sanitizing spray are at your gym (and studio) for a reason— because no one wants to share bacteria. But now that our living quarters, even that tiny Upper Westside studio, have become our own personal fitness paradise, we’ve got one question: Is your at-home workout equipment *really* clean?
Research has found that bacteria can live on some gym equipment (weights, mats, you name it) for three days. That’s right, 72 full hours. And your yoga mat or those dumbbells you just got delivered from Amazon so you can slay that new virtual class you just booked on Mindbody are susceptible to the same stat. While it may seem silly to clean your own “stuff” because you’re the only one using it, think about where your hands have been before you pick up those weights. Perhaps your apartment complex’s keypad? Bacteria knows no boundaries.
From your resistance bands to your brand spanking new (and yes, most likely backordered) kettlebell, the gear you’re using at home could use a good wash, rinse, repeat—especially if you’re sharing it with someone you’re stuck at home with (like your S/O or stir-crazy housemate). Even if you’re the queen of clean (like me... just ask my co-worker, Natalie), here are six tips on how to keep your gear germ-free and looking good. Because we know all those classes you’ve been streaming are making you a fitness guru.
You not only want to clean the dirt off your workout equipment, you want to sanitize it. Clean gets the dirt, sanitizing takes care of the bad stuff (aka bacteria). Before you start getting crazy with the bleach or a DIY deodorizer, you’ll want to take into account the surface you are about to wipe down. Something like your treadmill, Peleton bike, resistance bands or bench press bench can be damaged by certain chemicals and at-home cleaners. If you’re worried about your equipment, opt for disinfectant wipes especially made for gym equipment, like all-natural Wipex. Plus, it’s never a bad idea to keep some hand sanitizer next to your workout station.
Clorox wipes have become the hottest household item of 2020—and we are guessing so has virtual yoga. If you’re not a huge fan of using chemicals you can’t pronounce and throw-away wipes on equipment like your Manduka mat, there are all-natural antibacterial cleaning options that will make Mother Earth proud. Who doesn’t want to make their cleaning routine a little more green? Companies like cleancult (we called them out in our 20/20 trends), offer effective, all-natural products delivered right to your door in recycled milk cartons —and they pair perfectly with your go-to disinfectants. Cleancult’s versatile All-Purpose Cleaner is my fave for wiping down workout gear, especially yoga mats (and almost everything in my home). The Saponified Coconut Oil acts as the “heavy lifter” without harsh chemicals. After working out, spray your surface(s), wait for a couple of seconds and wipe away with a reusable towel (or an old gym t-shirt you use as a rag).
While knowing what surface you’re cleaning is key, some of your equipment might benefit from DIY solutions. Before you roll up your sleeves and become the Harry Potter of cleaning solutions, invest in a glass spray bottle (or reuse an old plastic one). Oh, and break out the essential oils because they are about to boost your at-home fitness (and cleaning) routine. Most of the DIY cleaning “recipes” you find on Pinterest include ingredients you have at home—like vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. My must-use DIY cleaner is vinegar-based (with 10-12 drops of essential oils). It’s powerful yet natural enough that I feel more confident laying facedown in Savasana with my oh-so-sensitive skin after that yoga class in NYC I just streamed from San Diego.
Now that cleaning your at-home workout gear is part of your routine (hint, hint), letting your equipment dry is key. If you’re cleaning your more expensive exercise machine with some cleaning solutions that have a “smell” or you want it to dry faster, trying turning on a fan or crack open the window to keep the air circulating. If you’re just cleaned a more porous surface (like your yoga mat) hang it outside to dry—over a railing, a chair, bike rack... you get the gist. While fresh air is good, UV rays are not. Certain materials that make workout gear can breakdown in the sun, and you don’t want to get burned before your next workout sesh.
While cleaning your equipment might seem like a no-brainer, it can be easy to ignore the surrounding area where you work out. The title of this section tells you what you need to know—don’t forget to clean and sanitize the floor where you exercise. Just think of it this way, while you’re killing it in your virtual fitness class, your hard work is being noticed, by the floor that is, as your sweat beads go flying. And last time I checked; vacuuming doesn’t do the trick for dried sweat. After class, wipe down the area around your workout space with cleaning products that are conducive to the floor. Working out on carpet? Consider switching areas or look into sanitizing and deodorizing spray for material surfaces.
The most important part of cleaning and sanitizing your workout equipment is sticking to a schedule. If you’re forgetful (like me), keep your supplies adjacent to the area where you enjoy working out. And do it on the daily. Seeing the supplies will be a reminder to clean and sanitize before (and after) you get your sweat on—because who doesn’t love starting out their class on a cleanly note? Mother would be proud! PS: don’t forget to wash your hands!
Do you have any at-home cleaning and sanitizing tips you swear by when it comes to your workout routine? From DIY to cult-favorite products, we want to know! Tag @mindbody on Instagram to let us know! Stay clean, safe and sanitized our friends!