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Winterproof Yourself

Winterproof Yourself

Winterproof Yourself

Odds are, come November you’re busy winterproofing. Making sure the snow tires are on the car… changing the clothes in your closet to cozier options… stowing away the patio furniture…

But have you thought about how you’re going to winterproof yourself?

Many of us have the urge to hibernate during the colder months but staying mentally and physically healthy is important the whole year through.

Here are some ways you can winterize your life for both your body and your mind.

Stick to your workout routine to keep yourself physically fit. When lower temps hit, make sure you warm up for a few extra minutes before walking, running or biking outside. Cold muscles are much more prone to injury.

If your warm-weather workouts consist of outside activities that become impossible in the Pennsylvania winter, look for indoor options to take their place. Find some exercise videos online, grab a resistance band and work out in front of the news. Or better yet, get to a gym and sweat it out through the snowy months with like-minded friends.

Exercise is a great immune system booster. And working out with others can help motivate you and fill the need for socialization, too. Which brings us to our next tip…

Stay social. Those who maintain regular contact with family and friends are much less likely to report feelings of sadness and depression, and during the dark and cold winter months this is especially true. Stay in touch to stay sharp and happy!

If you do happen to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), try sitting in front of a light box for 20 to 30 minutes each morning. And don’t be afraid to ask for help or talk to a mental health professional if feelings of sadness last longer than a couple of weeks, or if depression is affecting your appetite and desire to live an active and productive life.

Eat well. Fruits and vegetables help boost your immune system, too. During winter around these parts, fresh produce is hard to find, so frozen options are a great choice. The food is harvested and flash frozen at it’s peak so it maintains high levels of nutrients, unlike the sad, wilted half-ripe offerings in the produce section of the supermarket.

One of the few exceptions is citrus fruits, which travel well from warmer climates and ripen during winter months. Fresh oranges and grapefruit are great for immune-boosting vitamin C.

Vitamin D is another much-needed nutrient during the winter months in the cold Northeast. Our bodies produce vitamin D naturally from sunlight, so when the days are shortened by winter, vitamin D deficiency soars. Try walnuts, fish such as salmon and cod, dairy products and ground flax seed to boost your D. Ask your health care provider about taking a supplement if your levels are very low.

Spice up your life. Instead of warming your insides with alcohol, which can lower your resistance to illness and increase feelings of depression, try a little spice. It’s no accident ginger and cinnamon are the signature spices for the winter holidays, as they are known to help increase circulation and warm you from the inside out. They’ve got antioxidant powers which can help boost immunity, too. Heat “warm” spices like turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper and ginger, along with some honey, in any kind of milk for a soothing bedtime treat.

Don’t neglect your skin. For many of us, winter means dry, itchy limbs and cracked fingertips. Start moisturizing now, choose a thicker, richer moisturizer for winter, and skip the long hot showers that remove the natural oils and nutrients from your skin. Remember, too, that the sun can still cause damage—especially when it’s bouncing off snow—so wear sunscreen when you’re going to be outside for longer periods of time.

And finally…

Adjust your environment. The air in our homes tends to be dry when the heat is on, so investing in a humidifier can keep your nasal passages clear and relieve coughing and a dry throat. Air that contains more humidity is better for your skin, as well.

Crack your windows whenever possible to let in some fresh air, and open drapes to let in as much sunlight as you can. Turn the lights on in your home during late afternoon to counter the early darkness outside. And try hanging photos of you and your family that remind you of warmer sunnier times. A day at the beach or a summer picnic, perhaps?

Doing just a little bit of “winterproofing” will keep you healthy, vital and safe over the winter months, so you can emerge in the spring more like a butterfly than a bear.

Until we meet…