There’s no getting around the fact that winter is approaching quickly. Cold, short days are ahead, and many people dread the onset of the coming season. But instead of viewing the winter with a negative mindset, look towards ways in which you can benefit from it. There’s no better way to start than by taking strides to stay healthy this winter, and it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think.
Taking a holistic approach to health during the winter is all about reading the season and understanding the effects it has on your body. Consider the following tips, and don’t hesitate to make a checklist to ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep your health in top form once the snow starts falling.
1. Monitor Your Current Health Conditions
For a number of reasons, the winter can actually exacerbate certain health conditions. The cold weather can cause aches and pains, viruses are more prevalent, and “winter blues” can make already-present conditions more difficult to deal with.
It’s important that you take the time throughout the winter to monitor any health conditions you might have, perhaps even more closely than in the spring or summer. Those who are on a variety of medications may want to have their liver functions tested more frequently. According to Dexcom (a provider of glucose monitoring systems), there are approximately 26 million people in America alone living with diabetes. These individuals should be especially vigilant about monitoring their glucose levels throughout the winter. Small steps like these can make a big difference and can keep complications at bay during the winter months.
2. Use a Light Box
Lightboxes are becoming more and more mainstream in today’s society, perhaps because they really do make a difference for those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). These devices cast a bright light on those who use them, providing vitamin D, and making up for the lack of sunlight experienced throughout the winter. They’re reasonable enough for most people to be able to afford a home unit, and you can use them at any time throughout the day.
3. Don’t Neglect the Gym
Staying fit in the winter can be easier said than done. But the gym is your best friend during this period of time, and should never be neglected. Spending just 20-30 minutes a day (or at least 4 times per week) in the gym will not only ensure that you don’t gain a bunch of weight around the holidays, but it can actually improve your mood and keep your mind alert.
4. Get Your Omega-3 Fatty Acids
It’s already established that winter can exacerbate depression, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to run down to your doctor for some form of prescription. Instead, focus on ways in which you can naturally improve your brain’s ability to cope with winter – omega-3 fatty acids, for example. Found mainly in fish and leafy greens, omega-3s can also be purchased in supplement form and are not only good for the brain but also help to maintain a healthy heart. If you decide to take the supplement route, be sure to look for those which ensure negligible levels of mercury and other pollutants.
5. Don’t Lose On Sleep
Everyone knows that they can benefit from getting a full night’s sleep, but today’s society is rushed to the point where many people simply don’t allow themselves the luxury. Given the short days typically seen in winter, however, it’s important to make the most of the sunlight, which means being as well-rested as possible to start your day off. Ideally, adults should get at least 7-8 hours of sleep, although some people are able to function perfectly well on less. Find a pattern that works for you, and stick to it.
Winter may not be everyone’s favorite season, but go into the season with a positive attitude, and the onset of spring will be all the sweeter.