It's no secret that it can be hard to muster the energy to leave the house during the frigid months of winter. The cooler months are the perfect excuse to give your home a seasonal refresh with thick throw blankets, textured pillows, and soft rugs. But once you've turned your home into a cozy respite from strong winds, rain, and snow, it's only natural to want to stay put and rest safely indoors during the depths of winter. However, at what point does staying inside all day become unhealthy? A day resting indoors can be rejuvenating, but making a habit of it isn't the best idea.
According to Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, "nesting"—the wellness trend involving scaling back your social life in favor of committing time to a bit of self-care—isn't necessarily as good for you as it may sound in theory. Getting outside can help alleviate symptoms of depression, up your energy, and increase your overall well-being, so while you could stay indoors, getting outside every day—even if it's just for 20 minutes—can have a much greater positive effect on your body.
Meet the Expert
Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is an assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.
You Need Vitamin D
"The biggest issue is that entering hibernation mode means you don’t get any exposure to natural light," Rajapaksa writes. "Sunlight tends to improve your mood, and it helps your body produce vitamin D, which has been shown to help regulate the immune system, reduce inflammation in the body, and more," she continues. That's why it's so important to get outside, even for a short period of time every day. The simple activity and exposure to sunshine can help you stay healthy and feel your best. You can also get vitamin D from food or supplements if getting outside isn't an option for you or the weather doesn't permit.
You Need Nature
She also points out that a lazy day indoors means you'll spend less time in nature. "Getting some green can help alleviate symptoms of depression, up your energy, and improve your overall well-being," the doctor says. In fact, a study by the University of Glasgow also found that people who exercise outdoors rather than in a gym had a lower risk of poor mental health. If that's not enough to convince you to find time to experience a little bit of nature every day, nothing will.
Getting some green can help alleviate symptoms of depression, up your energy, and improve your overall well-being.
You Need Ecotherapy
"One day inside probably won't hugely affect your health—but it's not great to constantly stay cooped up from morning until dark," Rajapaksa says. Of course, you can't be expected to trudge through nature during a winter blizzard, but it's important to get outside when you can. "On certain days, it can feel impossible to spend substantial time outdoors, [but] keep in mind that carving out even 20 minutes per day of 'ecotherapy,' as some call it, can do your mind and body good," the doctor points out.