Well, now that the holidays are over, do you feel let down? The excitement is done; your guests have returned to their own homes; the party season is over. Winter is a particularly difficult season to get through for many people, both physically and mentally. Many of us suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), due to a lack of sunshine. Shorter days are partly to blame, but living in the northern United States, sunlight is just harder to come by. The weather is cold and uninviting, and even if you are an avid winter sports lover, sometimes it’s just too miserable to get out and enjoy the activities you love. We also tend to eat different foods in the winter months. Fresh produce is harder to come by, so we often eat more meat and heavier vegetables like potatoes, squash, and apples. Our sleep can be disrupted by the shorter days, and sometimes it’s just torture to get out of bed on a cold, blustery morning. So now that I’ve really cheered you up, what do we do about the winter blahs?
The hardest part about winter for me is definitely the lack of sunshine. Some people who struggle in the winter use phototherapy to get their bodies back into rhythm, but there are some other things we can do to take care of ourselves and maintain our overall physical and mental health.
- Eat a healthy diet. While those heavy comfort foods may be warming, they aren’t necessarily giving us all the nutrients we need. Even though we need a little richer food during cold weather to help keep us warm, we also need greens and lighter foods as well. Try some nice sunny clementines, abundant in most grocery stores this time of year, and salad greens with a nice pot of soup.
- Get outside. What?! It’s negative 30 out there! OK…don’t go outside right now. But whenever the sun is shining, take a few minutes to go for a quick walk even if it’s just around the block. The fresh air will do you good, and I promise that the sunlight will improve your mood substantially!
- Exercise. A workout will make you feel much better! It will help regulate your sleep, and will keep you from getting stiff and achy from lack of movement. Try a yoga DVD or lift weights in your basement. Rebounding is also an excellent indoor exercise that will help keep your lymph system functioning properly. This is vital to helping fight colds and flu as well.
- Get your Vitamin D levels checked. Most of us who don’t live in a sunny location where we can be outdoors in shorts and a tank top all year-long are deficient. A Vitamin D3 supplement will help boost your immunity and your mood. Talk to your doctor before you start any supplements.
- Practice good self-care, and lots of it. Give yourself facials at home, and soak your feet. (Yes, guys, even you can do these things!) A detox bath with Epsom salts helps cleanse your body of all the environmental toxins that hang out in your home in the winter. Lymph massage, dry skin brushing, and progressive relaxation are all great ways to take care of yourself each day. It’s really important to make the time for self-care in your daily routine. It’s doubly important in the winter months when we are exposed to more toxins because we are all closed up in our homes, and because we sometimes feel kind of depressed and let down after the holidays. Self care activities can also help improve sleep quality, and reduce after-holiday stress (oh no, the credit card bill came in the mail today).
I’m going to focus on some self-care techniques in my next few blogs because I really think it’s that important to your good health. As a holistic health coach, I don’t just focus on what you put in your mouth, I focus on the whole person and how you feed your soul, too. It’s just as important as the food you eat to your good health. I can’t wait to talk with you more about self-care over the next couple weeks. Take care of yourself!