Frosty mornings and less daylight doesn’t mean that you sink into a pit of depression or throw all health practices out the window. Unfortunately, the holiday season leads to a series of unhealthy habits, including excessive screen time and the consumption of more junk food. This is especially dangerous for the upcoming holidays because most people have been doing exactly that since the coronavirus pandemic started in March 2020.
What are your normal winter habits? We’re going to make a safe bet and say that one of your habits is curling up under a fuzzy blanket on the couch to watch TV for hours on end. Who knows, maybe you don’t shower for a couple days since you’re in the house. The lack of daylight is a common cause for the lethargy during winter. When it’s dark at 5 p.m., you don’t feel as inspired to go for a neighborhood run or work on a project. On top of all this laziness and lack of self-care, winter marks cold and flu season. Neglecting your physical and mental health can increase your risk of getting sick, so use the following winter wellness tips to stay as healthy as possible.
Soak Up Some Natural Vitamin D
Around one billion people worldwide experience vitamin D deficiency, while 50% of the global population experiences vitamin D insufficiency. In the United States, about 35% of the adult population is deficient in vitamin D. Given that vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, immune function, and bone health, it’s a good idea to stand in the sun during winter. The unfortunate reality is that it’s hard for people in certain states to get a lot of sun, and many people stay inside because of the colder temperatures. If you are not able to get at least 15-30 minutes of sunlight daily, consider supplementing with vitamin D.
Don’t Stop Moving
It’s so easy to avoid exercise during the winter because the sun begins to set at 4 p.m. It’s easy to say, “I’ll just exercise at home later,” but how many people actually follow through with that statement? More often than not, people wind up sipping hot cocoa and eating popcorn while watching movies. Exercising releases endorphins, which are feel good hormones that can help combat seasonal affective disorder or depression. Additionally, exercising benefits the immune system, making you less prone to contracting winter colds. Go on a hike on the weekend or try to hit the slopes if you ski or snowboard. Get the blood pumping and you’ll feel healthier.
Don’t Neglect Your Sleep
We know we just told you to stay active, but it’s equally important to make time for sleep during the holidays. Sleep is the body’s way of recovering, but it also contributes to better mental health. Several sleep studies found that sleep-deprived people are more prone to chronic inflammation and reduced immune function as a result. It’s easy to stay up late binge-watching your new favorite show, but sleep is more important than Netflix or Hulu. One hour before you go to sleep, turn off the TV and put away your phone. Try to read a book, meditate, or engage in some restorative yoga poses to contribute to healthier sleep.
Load Up On Vitamin C
As we’ve mentioned in this article, winter is notorious for colds and flus. On top of those viruses, you have to worry about COVID-19. There has never been a better time to load up on vitamin C, which plays a big role in immune function. According to several studies, vitamin C helps to shorten the duration of colds and works to decrease the severity of symptoms. If you need to increase your vitamin C intake, start eating bell peppers, kiwis, kale, tomatoes, broccoli, citrus fruits, guavas, berries, parsley, thyme, and Brussels sprouts.
Keep Washing Those Hands
Both the CDC and the WHO advise that people be diligent about hand washing during the holidays. Proper hand washing with soap and water helps you limit the presence of bacteria and germs on your hands. When your hands are clean, your risk of transmitting germs from your hands to your eyes, nose, mouth, and ears decreases. You should wash your hands before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, and after being out in public. A pro tip for keeping hands from drying out after incessant hand washing: wash with lukewarm to cold water instead of scalding hot water. The hot water feels nice, but it dries out your skin. And don’t forget to moisturize after washing.