The post-holiday slump is inevitable, and the winter’s cold, short days certainly don’t help. When you need a pick-me-up, a quick excursion that gets the blood and brain cells flowing can make you feel better.
These healthy tricks for beating the blues can be applied wherever you live. But if you’re looking for a full-on getaway, we’ve found a handful of locations across the country that can help you achieve your winter wellness goals.
Enjoy the sun while it’s up
“Getting outside in any capacity is a great way to beat the winter doldrums and recharge,” says Alex Quick, former activities manager for Dancing Bear Lodge, a 36-acre estate in Townsend, Tenn., just minutes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “Even short hikes or rides are valuable ways to soak up some sunshine and get the endorphins pumping.”
Visitors to this mountain lodge can go for a hike along the more than 900 miles of trails, horseback ride, shoot (including sporting clays, skeet, trap and five stand), go fly fishing or bike along one of the many trails on the property.
“With the leaves off of the trees, the landscape offers all new views and experiences that we don’t often get during warmer months, making it even easier to catch a glimpse of some of the wildlife of the Smoky Mountains,” Quick says. Rates at Dancing Bear Lodge start at around $245/night.
If you live for snow, head to the four-season Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire, Mich. This winter wonderland, which is home to 42 downhill runs across two mountains, offers Nordic skiing, snowboarding, alpine tubing, dog sledding and snowshoeing.
“All these activities are a great cardiovascular workout and use all the major upper and lower muscle groups, as well as improve your balance and flexibility,” says Lindsey Southwell, marketing manager.
Flex your muscles and your brain
“Yoga can make for a great exercise and mental vacation on days where ominous winter weather keeps us indoors,” says Quick.
Most luxury spas and hotels now offer yoga classes, but there are more affordable, all-encompassing options to be found at yoga-centric sanctuaries, like California’s Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, where visitors can camp in tents on the farm grounds. Vegetarian meals are provided with classes for $70 per night (cabins are available from $120 per night).
For other options, check out the Yovada website, which lists affordable yoga retreats around the world. Whether you want to improve your practice in India, Indonesia or Costa Rica, there's a retreat sure to rejuvenate you.
Channel your inner artist
Boost your mood and your creativity at Atlanta’s Floataway Community, an artist enclave complete with communal green spaces, a 12-acre walking forest, and centers for peace and spiritual well-being such as Garnish & Gather, The Center for Love and Light, and Natural Body Spa and Shop. Don’t miss Nickel Bottom Garden, an ongoing project located in the park’s meadow that promises to become a gathering place for the surrounding communities to cultivate and enjoy.
Hit up a day spa close to home
If you can’t manage a full weekend (or longer) escape, consider setting aside a day, or even just a few hours at a spa close to home. You can treat yourself to a massage or facial, and many spas also have extensive hydrotherapy offerings like different heated pools, saunas, steam rooms and Vichy showers.
New York City recently got an Italian wellness import called QC NY on Governors Island, which is accessible via a short ferry ride from Manhattan or Brooklyn, making the retreat feel all the more like an escape. The spa has a massive heated outdoor pool with spectacular Manhattan skyline views and an extensive aqua therapy area. All day admission starts at $98.
Just outside of Chicago is a day-spa version of the famous Kohler Waters Spa resort in Kohler, Wisconsin, called Kohler Waters Spa at Burr Ridge. While you must book a treatment here to gain access (from $65), once inside you can spend as much time as you want in hydrotherapy circuit, which includes a whirlpool, waterfall, steam room, sauna and cold plunge.
Use NEA Travel for spa savings
NEA members should visit NEA Travel for special savings on spa vacations. Check NEA: Resorts and NEA: Hotels for great prices on wellness-focused hotels and resorts. To get there, book a flight through NEA: Airfare and reserve a rental car with NEA: Car Rental. You can also earn and use NEA Travel Dollars as you plan your trip.