READ THESE TIPS ON HOW TO EMOTIONALLY SURVIVE THE WINTER BLAHS.
For many people, the advent of winter brings pleasant thoughts of the sheer enjoyment of winter sports such as skiing, snow tubing, ice skating, and a good old-fashioned snowball fight! (Yep! I did that as a kid!)
For others, especially those who simply do not like cold temperatures and icy roads, thoughts of winter may cause gloomy outlooks or feelings of isolation due to a decrease in the enjoyment of other people’s company on warm, sunny days.
Whatever your mindset towards the winter season, it is a good practice to properly care for yourself physically and mentally during this frigid time of year. I decided to write this guide to give you a few wellness tips on how you can survive, thrive and tackle the winter blues. Here goes.
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1. MAINTAIN A HEALTHY INDOOR ENVIRONMENT
Were you aware that when the temperatures drop outside, it causes the air to become drier?
These cold outdoor temperatures also necessitate turning the heat on inside your house. Consequently, the use of artificial heat causes the air inside to become even more arid.
When the air inside become drier, it can cause your nose and throat to become dry and feel scratchy. To combat this, simply use an air humidifier to help put moisture back into the air. If you use the type of humidifier with a small ‘well’ into which you can add essential oils, this will create an even more soothing atmosphere for you. Some essential oils that are beneficial to use during the winter months are peppermint, eucalyptus, or lemon.
Here’s a tip on how to create a more tranquil atmosphere in your bedroom when using a humidifier. After you add your choice of an essential oil, close your bedroom door to create a ‘cocoon’ of aromatic, moisture-rich air to help keep your nasal passages and bronchial tubes hydrated and healthy.
2. ALWAYS DRESS WARMLY
Sometimes, winter brings along with it the possibility of catching the flu or a cold. There is a plethora of over-the-counter medications available to help you keep winter-related illnesses at bay. However, by simply dressing warmly from head to toe, you can decrease your chances of getting sick altogether.
Along with your warm coat, always wear a hat and gloves when you go outside in the cold. This is such a simple, yet effective way to keep nasty colds at bay. It is so tempting to think, “Oh, I’m just going to run a few errands in my warm car and go back to my warm house.” as a rationale for not dressing warmly at times in the winter.
I’ll remind you, these kinds of “quick errands” can open the door to a nasty cold sneaking up on you if you don’t take the time to dress properly for the chilly outdoors.
Also, some people are more sensitive to cold air on specific parts of their bodies. If you are one of these people, be sure to properly cover that area to stay healthy.
For example, I tend to get chest congestion if I’m in cold winds for even short periods of time. So, I make sure I wear a scarf around my neck and chest to so that I don’t end up with a persistent cough.
Now, I don’t think anyone is bold enough to weather the winter months without wearing a warm pair of socks when going outside. However, don’t downplay the benefit of wearing a soft pair of fluffy socks around the house as well.
Wearing socks inside the house helps to keep your body’s temperature at a cozy, healthy level and can prevent “icicle toes”.
While wearing your socks, amp up the cozy factor by sipping on a flavorful, hot cup of chamomile tea. If you drink your tea about half an hour prior to going to bed, you will set yourself up for a good night’s sleep.
3. MENTAL HEALTH AND VITAMIN D FOR WINTER BLUES
If you live in areas where it snows a lot in the winter, this means you’ll see less sunshine and more gray, gloomy skies. This could also mean that your body will produce lesser amounts of vitamin D due to being exposed to less sunlight.
Not only does vitamin D help keep your bones healthy and strong by assisting your body with better absorption of calcium, but it also helps to keep your mood light and helps ward off symptoms like depression and insomnia. So, vitamin D can help with the winter blues.
To keep your mood levels stable, it could benefit you to try a small vitamin D supplement daily. Always check with your doctor before taking any new supplements.
4. PRACTICE DEEP BREATHING
The practice of deep breathing is a great way to still the mind, oxygenate the body, and help calm yourself down (2). It takes practice to learn how to draw in the reigns of your mind and just sit quietly for a few minutes, but the benefits are priceless…both mentally and physically.
The most simplistic way to practice and benefit from deep breathing is to find a quiet, comfortable place in your house, close your eyes, and just focus on breathing in and out at a controlled pace.
Deep breathing is a miraculous form of self-care because it also helps to regulate our heart rhythms (3) and keeps us from hyperventilating when in stressful situations.
Running on all cylinders every day is simply exhausting! However, when we allow ourselves the precious opportunity to pause….for even 5-10 minutes daily….and take 20-30 deep breaths, it helps to restore balance to our lives. Try it!
5. EXERCISE HELPS TACKLE WINTER BLUES
Exercising a few days per week can also help improve your mental health…in all seasons. Exercise helps to improve your circulation and oxygenates your body (1), thereby helping you to think more clearly and creatively.
Although you may not be able to go for a nice long walk outdoors during the winter months, you can still benefit by doing push-ups and using a couple 3- to 5-pound free weights to help keep your arms toned.
You can also exercise to your favorite online streaming workout program by doing so on a cushioned exercise mat to absorb the impact on your shins, calf muscles, and your feet.
Another simple and fun way to maintain a cardio workout indoors is by jumping rope for a few minutes per day. Start out with just a couple minutes per jump rope session, then build your way up to jumping rope for 10-20 minutes per day. You will be pleasantly surprised at how even small amounts of exercise can benefit you mentally and physically during winter months.
6. READ OR DEVELOP A NEW SKILL
Just because you spend more time indoors during the winter months does not mean you have to turn into a couch potato!
Those books that you purchased with the intention of reading “someday”? Go ahead and read them now!
Are you interested in learning a new skill via an online course that you bought? Winter is a great time to complete that e-course and better yourself.
Who knows? Participating in mind-developing activities could spark a new business venture in you. Just saying!
7. WATCH A FEW FUNNY VIDEOS
Now this one is a bit against my usual endorsement to limit your exposure to the RFID waves of the computer screen, but, sometimes you just need to laugh for a few minutes!
My favorite and ‘on-demand’ way to do this is to tune in to the quirky and humorous videos of cute little babies and animals. This is simply a great way to decompress and uplift your spirits in an instant!
8. VIRTUALLY VISIT YOUR LOVED ONES
Yep! Here I go again suggesting more time in front of your computer screen, but this suggestion is froth with endearment.
Why not ‘virtually’ visit with a dear loved one who lives long distance from you via a meeting app? Sometimes, just seeing the face of, or hearing the voice of someone you cherish can give your mood a great boost.
This bridges the communication and distance gap between you and the people you hold dear to your heart. And you can do so very inexpensively and safely…especially in this COVID atmosphere in which we now live.
9. BEAT THE WINTER SKIN BLUES
Dry, cold winter weather can wreak havoc on your skin (4). To keep your skin from becoming dry and cracked, it is beneficial to use skin care products that contain at least a small amount of oil.
Oil-based products provide a protective barrier against dry winter winds, vs. water-based products that evaporate quickly after application to your skin.
The three most vulnerable areas that you should protect on your body in the winter is your face, your lips (of course, located on the face) and your hands. These areas tend to show signs of weather-related aging at a faster rate vs. other parts of the body.
I will briefly share with you a part of my winter skin care routine that I use to beat the winter skin blues.
At night, after showering, I apply a layer of organic, extra virgin olive oil on both my skin and face. This keeps my skin from becoming dry and itchy. Plus it helps to replace some of the oils that were stripped from my skin by cold winter winds or the arid indoor winter air.
For my hands, once a week I exfoliate them by using about a teaspoon of a body scrub made with plant-based carrier oils and natural essential oils. This is such a luxurious treatment for my hands, and they always feel like new directly after these treatments.
Now, for my lips, I like to use a lip balm that does not feel waxy. Waxy lip balms tend to make my lips feel even drier. It’s good to opt for lip balms that contain natural, plant-based oils (like coconut oil or olive oil) because they will keep your lips feeling soft and free from chapping and flaking.
10. GO TO SLEEP A BIT EARLIER AT NIGHT
As you know, we get less hours of daylight each day during the winter months. However, did you also know that as it becomes darker outside, your body will begin to produce melatonin?
What is melatonin? Glad you asked! Melatonin is a hormone (5) that your brain produces when it turns dark outside, which signals your body that it is time to wind down and prepare for a good night’s sleep.
Take advantage of the longer night-time hours by going to bed a bit earlier, thereby allowing your body more time to rest and rejuvenate for the next day’s activities. You always feel more refreshed after a good night’s sleep.
While the winter season may not be a favorite like summer and spring, you can still thrive and stay healthy until the more beloved warmer months roll around again.
Plus, winter time brings one of the most lauded holidays worldwide….Christmas! This is a time when we get to decorate our homes with festive lights and other colorful decorations to enjoy the warmth of the season.
With a little planning, you can learn to enjoy winter and make it through those 3-4 months with more serenity and happiness.