As the cold weather sets in, it’s essential to think about how the changing of seasons impacts your health mentally and physically. If you have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, or other chronic health conditions, it’s important to understand what your risk is for cold-related health effects.
Luckily, there are multiple ways — from exploring mindfulness to staying hydrated — that can ensure the body stays healthy and strong this season.
Below, discover unique ways to keep your mind and body feeling good all winter long.
Simple Ways to Stay Healthy in Winter
Colder weather means the body has to adapt — yet again — to another season.
For those who live in colder climates, it’s important to stay on top of your health and be proactive in fall and winter to stay well. Colder weather puts more stress on the cardiovascular system and other body systems. Listening to your body and practicing healthy habits like indoor workouts and getting good sleep will keep you feeling your best, though.
Much of your health is within your control this season.
Here’s a look at health practices to keep your immune system strong this season:
1. Spend Time in a Sauna
Aside from being an escape from the bitter cold, time in a sauna comes with a host of health benefits. Try a daily sauna for 15 minutes or so to help preserve muscle mass, improve skin strength, and relax muscles. Studies show saunas can improve brain health, relieve stress, and induce bigger sleep — all musts for strong immunity and good health.
2. Explore Mindfulness
Mindfulness activities can help keep the winter doldrums away and help individuals to remember that the cold, gray months are only temporary. It can bring peace and contentment which can also keep the immune system healthy. When feeling overwhelmed by work, relationships, or even the holidays, close your eyes and focus on the present moment. Reflect on what you see, feel, think, taste, and hear for a quick mindfulness practice.
3. Eat Healthily
Foods rich in vitamin C will keep the immune system strong throughout winter, making it important to eat a variety. Warm and hearty soups filled with carrots, butternut squash, wild rice, etc. are particularly healthy in the colder months. Add omega-3-rich foods to your diet to keep your health on track. Tuna, herring, nuts, and plant oils are all omega-3-rich options.
4. Stay Hydrated
Even during cold weather, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. A study from the University of New Hampshire found the chance of dehydration increases during the colder months. Drinking enough water can prevent dehydration-related issues like fatigue, brain fog, bad mood, headaches, and the like. This is especially important when exercising in cold weather. Dry mouth and sugar cravings are two indicators you may be dehydrated.
5. Get a Flu Shot
Whether you’ve noticed it in your own city or on the news, the flu and RSV are running rampant this season. So far this season, there have been at least 4.4 million flu cases and 2,100 deaths from the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention influenza report. The cold and flu season peaks between December and March, so getting a flu shot can be helpful any time before the end of the season.
6. Spend Face Time With the Sun
It’s a must for living beings to have the sun. If you’ve noticed you feel a bit more sluggish during the gray winter months, there’s a reason: the sun is away and you need it. Time in the sunlight releases the feel-good hormone called serotonin. The sun also helps the body process vitamin D, which is needed to better absorb calcium in the body. One 2016 Georgetown University study found that skin exposed to sun increases T cell movement, essential to strong immunity.
7. Prepare for Winter Outings
If you do need to go out in icy or wintery weather, be sure to prepare. That means layering up and keeping snacks inside your vehicle along with blankets and an emergency kit. Avoid traveling if the National Weather Service advises against it. Let loved ones know of your travel plans, including proposed routes and arrival times. Preparing in this manner can save your life in the event you’re stranded when out in wintery conditions.
8. Workout Inside
Feeling like hibernating instead of hiking your heart rate? Winter is a prime time for adults to go into slow mode. A recent survey found a fifth of adults see their exercise levels drop by as much as 37 percent during winter months. If you would rather stay inside than head to the gym or outdoors for a workout, your options are plentiful to still get a sweat session in. Try free workout resources or do a simple bodyweight circuit complete with stretching, jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, and running in place.
9. Keep Up Your Nighttime Routine
Daylight savings time messes up a lot of things — including sleep schedules. That’s why tuning into your body and listening to what is necessary for rest and proper sleep is important. The better quality sleep you get, the stronger your immune system will be throughout winter along with your mental health. Whether you read before bed, put on a cozy robe, meditate, or have a cup of tea, do whatever relaxes you for the best night’s sleep.
10. Listen to Your Body
Lastly, you know your body best. No matter how many specialists you have or medical friends you have around you, the only person who knows your body forward and backward is you. If you have heart disease, remember the cold weather can make chest pain more common. If you’re prone to dry skin, keep it moisturized and covered to keep it from getting infected. If holiday junk food is your temptation and makes you ill, don’t buy it or eat it. Listen to your body and follow up with your doctors as needed throughout the winter season.
Keep Your Health in Mind This Winter
With the chaos that often accompanies the end of the year, it’s easy to let self-care and healthy habits fall to the wayside.
But, you have a chance to get ahead of it all now. Consider the ways you can keep yourself accountable this season when it comes to staying healthy in winter. Whether that means writing it on your calendar, setting phone alerts, signing up for a spa membership, or even finding an accountability partner.
Keep yourself focused on healthy habits, activities, and moments daily to find yourself healthy mentally and physically all winter long.
What health practices keep you strong and healthy all winter long? Share in the comments below!