Winter is just around the corner, which means that it is time to prepare your home by cleaning out closets, turning on the heat, and weather-proofing the interiors and exteriors of your home.
It is equally important to prepare your body and health for the winter months ahead. In order to keep your physical and mental health in shape, here are five simple things that you can do:
- Lighten Up. Winter days are shorter, which means less sunlight than we are accustomed to during warmer months. For many people, this scarcity of sun leaves them feeling down and lethargic. You can fight back against the winter blues by taking a walk on brighter days, adding more lamps to your home, setting your bedside lamp on a timer, and even using a dawn (sunrise) simulator that will gradually wake you up.
- Relax Your Muscles. Colder temperatures are often accompanied by aches and pains, as the cold air may cause joints to be less elastic and take even more time to warm up than normal. Many of us are often more sedentary in winter as well, leading to stiffness and tension in the muscles. One way to combat this is by stretching first thing in the morning to warm your body up. You can also buy a home massager to help loosen tight muscles and increase blood flow.
- Sleep well. Early sunsets and less daylight tend to make most people sleepier than normal, and less energetic. That is why it is especially important to get a good night’s sleep every night. You can improve your energy levels by: setting a sleep/wake schedule (and sticking to it, even on weekends), practicing a bedtime ritual to help you relax (warm bath, stretching, etc.), exercising daily, and avoiding naps.
- Continue to Hydrate. Don’t pack that water bottle away! It is just as important to stay hydrated in winter months as it is in summer months. Your body continues to lose water through normal body processes, even if you aren’t sitting outside in the summer heat. Thirst is a great indicator that you should hydrate more, along with signs such as fatigue, inability to focus, light-headedness, and dry skin. Fluids, combined with certain high water content foods (e.g. cucumbers, soups, apples, celery) can help keep your body hydrated all winter.
- Moisturize. Colder weather means less humidity, as warm air holds moisture better than cold air. This leads to dry skin, cracked and chapped lips, irritated sinuses and itchy eyes. A dry nasal cavity may also lead to nosebleeds, and leave you vulnerable to colds, flu and other infections. You can add some humidity back to your living spaces by using a humidifier, and replace some moisture back into your skin with a heavy, oil-based moisturizer.
Before making any changes to your diet or fitness, always consult your physician.