December is a month that is well known for being busy and chaotic. Not only are many areas of the country experiencing plummeting temperatures, but the demands on our time are at an all-time high. From holiday parties, wrapping up work projects, shopping and wrapping gifts, travel, and visiting with family, the demands can quickly get out of hand. As the high spirits of the holidays fade away, many people also find that their moods plummet. Lower moods aren’t due to the excitement of the holidays ending.
In most cases, the low spirits are due to a lack of sunlight. It gets light later in the morning and dark earlier in the evening. To help combat the lows that the winter can bring, you must focus on the core areas of health as we head into the winter season, like enjoyable exercise, enhancing your mood, soothing your body, and ensuring there is balance in your schedule.
If we aren’t careful to make our health a priority, the holiday season can quickly take its toll on both our mental and physical health. So, before things get too busy, take some time, and commit to taking care of yourself while also taking care of your friends and family. If you aren’t sure where to start, below are some Winter Health Tips to help you get on the right track through the year’s coldest months.
1. Replace Your Vitamin D
Many people like to stick to indoor activities away from the cold temperatures outside. But remaining indoors means that you aren’t getting fresh air or, more importantly, sunshine. Since the primary source of Vitamin D is the sun, this often leads to a shortage of this nutrient. Vitamin D is essential to bone health, disease protection, and mood stabilization. The choice to remain indoors and away from the cold can mean that you experience symptoms of a depressed mood or SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
Creating a Plan to Replace Your Vitamin D
If you are worried about your Vitamin D levels, your primary care physician can order a simple blood test to have them measured. If you are low on Vitamin D, your doctor can also discuss the best method for you to replace the nutrient.
Vitamin D supplements are available both over the counter and by prescription. You can also increase your vitamin D levels by eating foods rich in the nutrient, such as salmon, tuna, eggs, milk, orange juice, and fortified cereals. Also, do your best to get out in the sunshine as much as you can. Even a short walk on a sunny sidewalk can help boost your mood and your overall health.
2. Find Your Balance
Finding your balance through the winter season is essential for your mental health. Begin by making a list of all the winter activities that you want and need to do. This can include things like seeing family, traveling for New Year’s, ice skating, skiing, hitting a deadline at work, touring the Christmas lights in your town, spending the afternoon by the fire, or hosting a party. Once you have made a list, categorize the items into two columns: Things that bring you peace and joy and things that bring you stress.
Balancing the stressful activities with the ones that bring you peace and joy will help you maintain a sense of balance as you move through the chaos of the holiday season instead of getting lost in the hustle and bustle of it all. Ensure that you aren’t doing more than one or two items from your stress list before you enjoy a reset activity from your peace and joy list.
Dietary balance is also vital during the holidays. It is easy to get swept into the sweets and baking that are prevalent during the holidays but ensure that you are also getting some healthy foods. Winter vegetables, like kale, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and parsnips are all filling and abundant during the winter season. Research shows that a glass of red wine offers health benefits for your heart and a bit of dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants that help improve memory and protect against disease.
3. Kick Your Skincare in to High Gear
You have probably noticed that your skin changes in the winter months. Research has shown that the weather that happens across the country through the winter is indeed responsible for skin problems such as eczema or psoriasis to flare up. Wet weather is responsible for stripping away your skin’s barrier. The cold temperatures lead to your skin’s cells shrinking and changing texture. Additionally, moving from the warm indoors to the cold outdoors affects your capillaries and your blood flow.
Protect Your Skin This Winter
Everyone knows that you need to protect your skin from the sun in the summertime, but it is often overlooked in the winter. However, it is just as crucial in the wintertime to keep your skin moist and healthy. Begin by looking for a lotion that is formulated with ceramides and hyaluronic acid. If you find that your skin is itchy, colloidal oatmeal reduces itching while also sealing in moisture. A lotion without fragrance is also a good choice if you have dry skin. If you are looking for lotions to start with, CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion and Dove Eczema Relief are both commonly recommended options. If you find that you are dealing with extremely dry skin or chafing, a trip to the dermatologist can get you a prescription cream that might be more effective for you.
4. Find an Exercise Regimen that Works for You
Winter weather is hard on those who like to run outdoors, bike, and hike through the warmer months. If you find that you are unable to partake in your favorite workouts because of the weather, try looking at the season change as an opportunity to try something new rather than a setback. Not only will something new keep you busy, but it will also spice up your workout regiment. Select something that you have wanted to try for a long time or something that sounds like it might be fun. This can be a new class at the gym or learning to ski. To make the experience even more enjoyable, invite friends or family to try the new activity with you. (You may want to read… How to Work Out together With Yourt Prtner, Friend or Loved Ones)
Daily movement is necessary to keep both your physical and mental health in a good place for the winter months. Research suggests that even ten minutes a day of exercise can boost your mood. Start by tracking your daily and weekly steps. Challenge yourself to get more steps each week as we slowly move towards spring.