In life, we need to go through a naked tree season in order to turn nothingness into meaning. - Luis Enrique Cavazos, The Five Virtues That Awaken Your Life.
With temperatures dropping and refreshing winds swooping us into the winter months, it’s hard to miss the fact that the quiet season is upon us. It might be enjoyable to walk the tranquil streets and take in the calmer atmosphere of the off-season months. But it might be far less fun to see your favourite breakfast spot close down for the winter, your friends go off to travel during the colder months, and maybe your kids (or grandkids) are far away.
It's par for the course to feel a bit lonely with all the hassle and bustle slowly leaving the island during the winter months. And while it might be tempting to brush off these feelings of melancholy as inconsequential, loneliness can be more than just an inconvenience.
Multiple studies have shown a link between loneliness, an exacerbated health decline and lowered immune response. Loneliness and boredom can tend to make people exercise less, have a poor diet, and overdrink. All of these things are more than just unhealthy habits. They could lead to elevated cortisol levels and chronic inflammation which in turn wreak havoc on your entire wellbeing.
The good news: you can do many activities to keep yourself and your health thriving during the quieter season!
Keep Active #
We’ve all heard that exercise is good for you, but what exactly does it do? Turns out being physically active can increase the amount of HDL or “good” cholesterol in the body as well as decrease unhealthy triglycerides. This helps ensure regular blood flow and prevent many ailments, including stroke, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, depression, anxiety, and arthritis.
When it comes to being active on the island, you are in luck! People from all over the world come to Mallorca for cycling throughout the year. There are many differently paced trails with amazing views throughout the island.
Winter is actually many people’s preferred time for cycling because of cooler temperatures and fewer people on the roads. If you need a little motivation along the way, you are likely to spot professional cyclists getting in their miles. They come in the winter months to train for upcoming competitions. Mallorca has over 50 different cycling clubs, all with different level participants.
There are Facebook pages where you could find information on upcoming group rides and events. To get you started, try an easy, mostly paved biking route that starts at Avinguda d’America (Hotel Taurus Park) and goes all the way through to Palma Port.
It’s not necessary to own a bike, many bike rental shops stay open all year round. Palma Lock and Go offers bike for 6€ for the day. Contact: https://palmalockandgo.com/rent-a-bike/ . You feel not up to tackling Mallorca's mountains on a bike? What if you got an e-bike to help you beat the hills? Read more about a fabulous outing our founder Memphis Holland did last year >>
Of course, one cannot forget about the many hiking opportunities in Mallorca. The winter season is the preferred season for this activity because of favourable temperatures.
The town of Sóller, for example, is a beloved hiking destination, offering several mild paced hikes with beautiful views and opportunities for refreshments along the way. Cami de Castelló is a particularly popular trail that overlooks the water, but there are also two other mild paced hikes in the immediate vicinity.
If you'd rather take an easy stroll along the seaside, head out to the long seafront promenade connecting Palma to Portixol, Es Molinar and Es Coll d’en Rabassa. It is also very popular among skaters and cyclists
Yoga, Tai Chi or Pilates
If braving the great outdoors in the cooler season is not your thing, why not take up classes in something you can do indoors like yoga, Tai Chi or Pilates, for example? In many villages and towns across the island there are groups you can join, offered either by the local town halls or private teachers. You are sure to meet like-minded people in these classes and might even make some friends. For information, head to the ayuntamiento, read the bulletin boards in cafés and bars, or check out Facebook. Fees range from 5€ to 15€ per session.
Whether you are a complete meditation newbie or you've been a long-time fan, the quieter months are a perfect opportunity to make this practice a part of your daily routine. Multiple studies suggest that a particular kind of meditation called “mindfulness meditation” can reduce stress, lower stress produced inflammation, help with anxiety, and even alleviate Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Not only is meditation good for your physical wellbeing, but it also does wonders for your mental health. Practicing mindfulness meditation can allow you to be fully present at the moment, with fewer opportunities for negative thought ruminating. This means more time to enjoy your daily life, notice opportunities for gratitude, and experience an overall good mood. On average, people who practice meditation regularly, report feeling more connected to their environment and experience less loneliness.
If you are just starting to meditate, there are plenty of useful apps that take the guesswork out of the process. My personal favourite is the “Headspace” app, available on iPhone or Android. Pleasantly organized illustrations lead you through the basics, and you have an option to choose the length of your meditations. You can enjoy a free 10-day trial introduction to see if meditation is right for you.
Another great way to keep yourself physically and mentally active during the winter is volunteering. It offers the opportunity to do something good in the world, but it is actually also great for your health. It has been noted that people who participate in volunteering experience less anxiety and depression. And there has even been a positive link between volunteering and hypertension management.
Volunteering can provide a sense of purpose and dedication. It also allows you to be a part of a community and expand social ties. There are plenty of volunteering opportunities on Mallorca. If you are a fan of the outdoors and furry friends, animal shelters like Son Reus in Palma allow volunteers to take the dogs out for walks. Don’t forget to bring your ID; they will hold on to it while you are out, and in exchange, give you a volunteer jacket and a furry companion to walk! Contact: Camí de Son Reus, 07120 Palma / +34 971 438695
For those looking to land a helping hand in a store environment, Allen Graham Charity welcomes help at their Casa Catalá and Puerto Pollensa locations. Contact: Ctra. Andratx, 12, 07181 Portals Nous / +34 971 700980.
Cancer Support Mallorca seeks volunteers to help with office work, blog writing, research, cooking for local patients, and meal delivery. They can be reached by filling out a volunteer form on their website. Contact: https://www.cancersupportmallorca.com/
Nourish Your Mind #
Keep your mind and soul nourished by exploring Mallorcan gems. The quieter months are the perfect opportunity to visit some of Mallorca’s best museums and landmarks.
The always appealing Es Baluard Contemporary Art Museum, for example, offers a consistent display of modern wonders and is a perfect spot for an afternoon excursion. Contact: Plaça de la Porta de Santa Catalina, 10, 07012 Palma / +34 971 808200
For a more off the beaten path experience, stop by the Pilar and Joan Miro Foundation. The Foundation is set up in the artist's former house. The couple moved to Mallorca in 1956, and their Finca and nearby art studio space are filled with their sculptures. Make sure to check in on the library on the premises for some exciting finds. Address: Carrer Joan de Saridakis, 29, 07015 Palma / +34 971 701420
Make a bucket list of all the places you have always wanted to see, but never come around to go. And then, go!
Learn Spanish #
Another interesting activity for the winter is taking up Spanish courses. Many schools offer intensive classes where you study grammar and vocabulary daily. This provides an excellent opportunity for mastering the language. It also affords a sense of routine and the possibility to socialize with others.
Many schools have off-site tandem meetings where students can exchange their native languages. A native German speaker, for example, might meet with a Spanish speaking student to practice both languages in conversation.
As one option, “Akzent Liberia y Escuela de Idiomas” in Palma offers small group Spanish and German classes. In between courses you can easily lose yourself in the charming book store located on the second floor. There, you can find books in English, German, Spanish, Russian, and more.
Contact: Carrer del Carme, 14 E – 07003 Palma de Mallorca / +34 639 448 008
Final Thoughts #
The quieter months offer an opportunity to do all the things you were too busy to do during the summer. Whether it is making new friends through a language school or participating in philanthropic activities, Mallorca has many exciting activities for you to enjoy in the winter. Now the question is, how do you decide what to jump into first?
#Mallorcawinter #quietseason #volunteering #Stayingactive
By Polina Frantsena
20 November, 2019