Rainy days can dampen the mood. Dreary skies can make even the most active person feel lazy. We are smack dab in the middle of monsoon season here in the Philippines, and I feel it. I’m sure you do too.
That’s not all coincidence. There is a scientific explanation for this. When we’re exposed to sunlight, our pineal gland releases less melatonin, and we feel more awake. Sunlight also increases serotonin, which means that the rainy-day blues are due to the balance of brain juices in our bodies since we also produce less serotonin on days without the sun.
Now that it is clear that we have the tendency to be extra lazy these days, how does one stay on track with their fitness and health goals?
The following is a simple checklist that I always refer to when I feel the bad weather is affecting my usual fitness and diet routine.
Seems basic, but it’s important to remind ourselves to do so. When you’re stuck indoors avoiding the rain, you’re likely to move less than you would if you were outdoors. Once again, science reinforces this: An object at rest remains at rest. Even Newton’s first law of motion says so. So, how do we avoid being idle? Let’s keep on moving.
My first line of defense to make sure I do so is to make appointments to work out—sign up for a class or make plans with a friend to hit the gym. Doing this will make you more accountable for pushing through with your workout. If that doesn’t work, you can do home workouts or make daily activities an exercise. When I can’t make it to the gym, I use the Nike Training Club app. It’s a handy app that has a bunch of different kinds of workouts at various fitness levels, all for free. You can take your pick and exercise in the convenience of your home. When all this fails, I clean my house. Mop the floors; reorganize the closet; do the laundry. Household chores don’t seem like exercise, but any activity to get your blood moving daily always helps.
Mindful eating can be interpreted in many different ways, but the simple definition is eating with awareness. What I mean by that is, be aware of what you’re eating and how it affects your body. When the weather is gloomy and wet, and we’re feeling lazy, our diet also tends to become lazy. We opt for what is quick, easy, and what we think is “good” at the moment. You know what that sounds like? Sounds like fast food! This may not always be the case, but more often than not, especially here in Manila, convenient, comfort food is usually very unhealthy. So, especially during this season, let’s be extra mindful of our eating habits—what we eat, how much we eat, and how it affects us.
If you know you’re not as active today as you typically are, ask yourself: how much do you need to eat to feel satisfied? Will eating this type of food energize me and help me break the laziness, or will this make me feel even more lethargic? Am I eating just because there is nothing better to do, or am I hungry? If you ask yourself these questions and allow yourself to truthfully answer, you’ll be surprised at how your diet habits may start changing.
Guard Your Immune System
Rainy season is also known as the flu season here in the tropics. This is the time when people often get sick. I’m sure that we all have it drilled into our heads since childhood by our mom, lolas, and titas to be extra careful when it rains. Don’t let your head get wet or you’ll get sick! I bet you could count a handful of people right this moment who you know has a cold or the sniffles or at least is feeling under the weather. This is why it’s essential to take extra precaution in protecting your immune system. A good start is with the first two tips I already mentioned above: get plenty of exercises and eat healthily. In addition to that, I would recommend to practice proper handwashing, stay hydrated, and make sure to get at least 6 to 8 hours of restorative sleep a night.
You may notice that these tips don’t just apply to the monsoon season. These are general guidelines for staying active and healthy, but when we encounter distractions, a.k.a gloomy, difficult-to-deal-with weather, it’s always good to go back to the basics and remind ourselves of good health practices. On rainy days, I used to love to sink into the couch, wrapped in a comfy blanket, in front of Netflix, surrounded by my favorite snacks no more than an arm’s length away. Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? It used to be for me. Unless I’m down with the flu, being this lethargic no longer sounds as appealing to me as it did before. This is because I’ve learned different habits, which form my new norms. Being active and productive is what I now find appealing. So if this is not your norm, I encourage you to give these habits a try, and I bet you’ll be feeling energetic and vibrant in all types of weather.