Winter time can be a struggle for many people. Depending on where you live, this many affect you in various ways. For those living in colder climates, the winter months can be a struggle for a number of reasons.
The colder temperatures and less hours of daylight are not things most people look forward to. Aside from just the fact that these changes bring with them the increased heating bill and desire to stay indoors, they can affect us on a much deeper level.
Drier skin and even dry eyes become more likely during the winter months. To combat these things, try running a humidifier in your home, and be sure to use a quality, natural moisturizer daily. Making sure you are well hydrated is also important. Another tip is to strive for shorter showers or baths and lowering the water temperature a bit.
Mood swings or lack of energy can also be a common complaint during the colder months. This can be partially due to lacking sun exposure, and therefore potentially a Vitamin D deficiency. To ensure that Vitamin D isn’t the culprit behind these symptoms, be sure you are eating plenty of naturally occurring Vitamin D found in foods such as wild caught salmon, free-range eggs, and organic mushrooms. You may also consider adding a natural, fully methylated multivitamin. Not only can this help with your Vitamin D levels, but can also help boost immunity, improve hair and skin quality, and ensure you’re getting a wide variety of needed vitamins and minerals each day. Vitamin D is fat-soluble vitamin, so to maximize the body’s ability to absorb this nutrient, it should be taken in the presence of fat. Healthy fats like grass-fed butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, nuts or seeds at each meal is part of a balanced diet. Don’t skimp on the healthy fats! Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D, so be sure to capitalize on any rays you can. Play out in the snow with your children or dog, go for a quick jog, or even just step out onto your patio to breathe in some fresh air. It’s good for the body and the mind.
As the cold days set it our desire to exercise can often fade and the cravings for unhealthy eats can often increase. As tempting as it may be to just become a winter couch potato bingeing on hot cocoa, cookies and comfort foods, it doesn’t do your body or your overall health any favors. Rather than nix your workouts all together, try something new. Swap outdoor cycling for an indoor spin class. Rather than running outside in the elements, try hitting the weight room or taking up yoga. Exercising our mind is just as important as exercising our physical frame, so consider adding meditation to your routine also.
I know firsthand how tempting those stick-to-your-ribs meals can sound during the winter. My desire for cold, raw foods like salads or smoothies definitely diminishes, and my body begs for warmth. Instead of choosing refined carbohydrates and excess sugar or bad fats, I’ve learned to nourish my body. Hearty and healthy homemade soups, warm cups of tea, nutrient dense broths and proteins, whole grains and healthy fats not only satisfy my cravings for warmth, but also support my body’s needs and functions. When we choose processed, poor quality foods, our entire body slows down. Our adrenals, our metabolism, our hormones… they all rely on balanced nutrition to support their proper functioning. During the winter months especially, this can leave us feeling extra sluggish and fatigued. Rather than weighing yourself down with foods that taste good but don’t do good, I encourage you to think about what will nourish and protect your body throughout winter.
For over 3 million people in the US per year, SAD can also be a factor. SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition in which a change in the seasons (primarily during the colder months) brings about many of the symptoms I’ve already mentioned, but also entails depression, anxiety, and other complications. If winter time is especially hard for you, and making some of the above recommended changes doesn’t help, it might be time to discuss whether you are suffering from SAD. This condition is very treatable, so don’t ignore the signals your body is giving you. Discuss with your doctor or other medical professional ways in which you can naturally manage your symptoms to begin feeling better.
How do you cope with winter woes? Do you find you struggle with any of these issues? The symptoms and recommendations I have listed above are not all inclusive, and how seasonal changes affect each of us can vary. The important part is knowing what to do about these feelings and how to best manage them. Do you have any particular tricks or techniques that you’ve seen improvement from? Please share your experiences in the comments. You never know who might benefit from your insight!