Getting out of your comfort zone is healthy

FROSTY mornings and shorter days make spending as much time as possible rugged up by the fire a more attractive proposition than going out on the weekend.

It can be exhausting dragging yourself out of a warm bed when the temperature outside has dropped below zero to get ready for work or see the kids off to school, and this is the time of year when many of us are driving home from work in the dark.

So when Friday comes around, making plans for the weekend can seem like too much effort.

It is all to easy to go into hibernation mode for two days a week during winter but social engagement – and not just posting a photograph on social media of yourself wearing a onesie – is important any time of year.

Apart from the physical benefits of getting out and about during your time off, research has shown that engaging with your community can increase your chances of being happier this time next year.

A recent study suggested that people who make plans to improve their wellbeing have more success if their strategies involve spending more time with friends and family than those who plan to quit smoking or lose weight.

The Beaudesert Times this week shows there is no shortage of opportunity for people to share their time on their time off – from the rodeo to the footy, our community was more than prepared to gather together and share experiences last weekend.

There is hard evidence that maintaining social connections can prolong your life, boost your immune system, improve your mental health, lower your risk of dementia and increase your chances of surviving a natural disaster.

We are also lucky to live in a climate with daytime temperatures that allow us to spend time outdoors and grab our fair share of sunshine vitamins on the weekend or during our lunch breaks.

Experts suggest strategies like exercising outdoors with a friend or group, volunteering at charity events, taking a class in something that makes you smile, playing team sports, attending church services or simply going for walks and making a point to greet everyone you encounter on your journey.

These are achievable goals, so there is no reason not to get to know your town and the people in it, even if we are all rugged up to the ear holes.