If winter is really messing with your usual #beergardenlife because it’s too cold to go, well, anywhere that’s more than 30cm from the heater, it might be time to consider some new cool-season hobbies. To help, we’ve rounded up five fun things you can do from the warmth of your home – and their all scientifically proven to give your health a high five.
1. Turn your attention to a puzzle
There are few things more satisfying than putting the final piece into a jigsaw puzzle… But what makes it even more of a thrill is knowing that puzzling has a stack of benefits for your brain. Putting together those 1,000 pieces can work as a type of meditation, nixing stress and anxiety, and luring you into a more calm, focused state. It can also improve your attention span, boost your problem-solving skills and help keep your memory sharp. Oh, and did we mention it gives you serious bragging rights when you put the finished product on Insta?
2. Start an at-home yoga practice
If the idea of an outdoor boot camp seems (especially) unappealing in sub-zero temps, consider bringing your workout inside with an at-home yoga sesh. Don’t yet know your Tadasana from your Shavasana? If you need a little guidance, there are loads of free videos on YouTube that will take you through your flow (Yoga With Adriene has foundation lessons for beginners). Not only can doing yoga help to build muscle strength, increase blood flow and improve flexibility, it can also lift your mood and help to ward off those pesky winter blues.
3. Hit the kitchen with a new recipe
We don’t need to tell you that baking can have a pretty sweet pay off – ‘you bake it, you eat it’ is our slogan! – but did you know that all that whisking, beating and folding can have a meditative effect on the mind? Yep. Baking also stimulates the senses, releasing feel-good endorphins, and can be a fun form of creative expression (even if your end result looks less like something on Pinterest and more like something on Nailed It…). Share your baked goodies around and you’ll get extra happy feels from the smiles you put on other people’s dials.
4. Knit your own winter woolies
If you think the old ‘knit one, pearl one’ is just for Nan, think again. Knitting, needlework and other handicrafts have had a revival recently, and when you consider the therapeutic benefits (lower blood pressure, improved cognitive health and reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol), it’s little wonder! While being a calming form of relaxation, knitting also serves boost your self-esteem and sense of accomplishment, because unlike getting zen with meditation, knitting ends with something tangible – like, say, an adorable handmade baby beanie.
5. Learn a new language
Planning a trip abroad? Learning another language will come in very handy when you need to say ‘May I have the fish taco, please?’ in Spanish. But it can also be very useful for your noggin – from boosting your brain power (languages can be complex with new rules, origins and meanings to get your head around) to improving your ability to multi-task and keeping dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay. Try starting with an app that can help you build up from the basics with audible cues, then practise, practise, practise!