As winter’s chill settles in and the year draws to a close, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the gift of self-care. Let’s explore essential wellness tips tailored to the winter season, helping you prioritize your mental and physical health during these colder months.
Adjust Your Exercise Routine
Don’t let frigid temperatures prevent you from being active. If you’re unable to get outdoors for a daily walk, run, or bike ride, take your exercise routine indoors. Walk a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike inside your home. If you don’t have that equipment, head to a local gym so you can use the facility’s machines and indoor walking track. Or become a mall walker so you can get your steps in even on the coldest of days.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Many people like to eat heartier in the winters, with stews, soups, and chili displacing salads, grilled veggies, and lean cuts of meat. If you’re not careful, you could wind up consuming more fat and calories than you intend.
Be mindful of the nutritional value of your recipes so you can work on eating healthy into the winter. Use plenty of vegetables in soups and stews. Substitute ground turkey for ground beef in your chili recipes — or use no meat at all. Limiting your intake of red meat is good for your health, but make sure you’re getting protein from other sources such as fish, eggs, and cheese. And because hydration is more difficult in the winter, drink plenty of water and other fluids.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Have a regular schedule for going to bed and waking up, even on the weekends. Avoid food, exercise, and screen time right before bedtime.
If you have trouble falling asleep, try the 4-7-8 breathing technique: Breath in for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts, and exhale for 8 counts. Doing this several times as you lie in bed can help you relax and be ready for sleep.
Adjust Your Skincare Routine
You may need to use different skincare products to handle the colder, drier conditions of winter. Switch to hydrating cleansers and thicker moisturizers to keep your skin healthy. To avoid skin irritation, keep showers to under 15 minutes — and don’t make the water too hot. And don’t forget the sunscreen when you head outdoors; UV rays are just as harmful in the winter as they are in the summer.
Focus on Physical and Mental Health
An important function of self-care is being cognizant of your physical and mental health. To enhance your physical health, stay current on all doctor visits, cancer screenings, and recommended vaccinations. Enhance your mental health by practicing meditation and yoga techniques to alleviate stress and anxiety and create a sense of calm.
Bring in the Light
Winter is a difficult time of year for the millions of people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). About 5% of U.S. adults experience SAD, while 10% to 20% suffer from a milder form known as the “winter blues.” Both conditions are associated with fewer daylight hours, lack of sunlight, and being cooped up inside.
You can combat the problem by opening the blinds, turning on the lights, getting outdoors, and seeing a doctor who can provide light therapy or other types of assistance as necessary.
Visit with Friends and Loved Ones
Many people tend to hibernate in the winter, staying warm and cozy in their homes, but social isolation in the winter comes with a high toll. Researchers have linked lack of human contact with such physical and mental conditions as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and even death.
Reduce your risk of these ailments by getting out and seeing people. Visit friends or relatives at least once or twice a week. Schedule regular social activities like book club, trivia nights, or fitness classes — anything to ensure that you are interacting with others.
Avoid or Limit Alcohol Use
For those who have had substance abuse addiction, use of alcohol and drugs must be strictly off-limits. Others should limit their drinking to assure that no issues with substance abuse develop.
Self-care is about focusing on you. It’s a valuable gift to give yourself in the winter or any time of year.
Beachside Rehab can assist those who struggle with stress and anxiety in the winter to improve their self-care. Contact our trained admissions counselors at 866-349-1770 to discuss how we can help.
- American Psychiatric Association, “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD),” https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/seasonal-affective-disorder
- Cleveland Clinic, “Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder),” https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9293-seasonal-depression
- National Institute on Aging, “Social isolation, loneliness in older people pose health risks”
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