Image: @worthyofeleganceSimply staying healthy through the winter can be a challenge. With the holidays in the rearview mirror, it’s time to focus on you again. We often ignore our own needs at this time of year, both physically and emotionally, and our health takes a backseat. But preventing illness and staving off the winter blues with a little inspiration found in these 5 tips is a good start to a new year.
1. “The human body is designed to move, even in the winter when you feel like hibernating”
Hunkering down indoors feels intuitive, especially if there’s a nice fire roaring. But before settling in for a long winter’s nap, bundle up and absorb some vitamin D outside. Even if it’s 15 or 20 minutes of brisk walking. Sufficient levels of vitamin D have been shown to help prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, high blood pressure and may slow the aging process.
Trying a new sport, like fat-biking or cross country skiing, is a great way to incorporate outdoor cardio into your life. If not, there’s always the gym or a yoga class.
2. “Hot cocoa and fuzzy socks”
In the winter, we don’t feel as thirsty because it’s cold, but we still need to stay hydrated. The debate on how much water to drink depends on gender and activity levels. In general, men need to consume eight to 10 glasses a day. Women are recommended to consume six to eight glasses every day.
If you’re not a huge fan of water, sip on some hot tea or hot cocoa. The health boosts of green and black tea include lower cholesterol, cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and risk for heart disease. Tea can also increase concentration and memory.
Flavonoids found in hot chocolate reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and improving blood vessels. Hot chocolate has antioxidants, too, which are released when the drink is heated. Antioxidants help our bodies fight free radicals that cause aging. Not even green tea contains as many antioxidants as hot chocolate. Sipping cocoa, like sipping green tea, is a calming and soothing ritual.
3. “Reset and restore”
Go on vacation if you can. Whether it’s a winter destination that entails an epic ski trip with buddies, a relaxing beach vacay with your significant other, a mountain biking trip to the desert, or even a theme park trip with the kids, your mind and body will thank you later.
Unfortunately, the average U.S. employee takes only half of their allotted vacation time. As a result, they’re suffering from being overworked, overwhelmed and overwrought.
4. “I love the smell of winter”
Stuffy noses and sinus congestion are fairly common in the winter. A cool-mist humidifier for the bedroom at night is less drying over time than a warm air humidifier. But for quick relief of sinus pressure, take a steamy, hot shower.
A nasal irrigation system, such as a Neti pot, is another popular method of removing excess mucus, allergens and irritants. To make your own saline mixture, combine 16 ounces of lukewarm distilled water with 1 teaspoon of salt. To buffer the solution, add ½ teaspoon of baking soda.
5. “The joy to be found in winter’s season, is easily found with you”
Create space in your mind and heart to be thankful for at least one thing every day. It could simply be gratefulness of having a roof over your head, a warm fireplace, a hot bath and food on the table.
We may not notice a difference in the level of warm fuzzies, but studies have shown that gratitude can boost your immune system. Researchers at the universities of Utah and Kentucky observed that stressed law students who characterized themselves as optimistic actually had more disease-fighting cells in their bodies. There is scientific proof in the power of positive thinking.
I’ll leave you with one last quote by philosopher Ivan Illich:
Effective health care depends on self-care; this fact is currently heralded as if it were a discovery.