The season of biting winds and below zero temperatures makes one want to stay indoors and hibernate. Though we are “toughened” Bear Lakers, winter can and does take its toll on our minds and bodies. Here are seven tips to help protect yourself mentally and physically during the winter season.
- Keep the winter blues at bay– Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is responsible for an estimated 10 to 20 percent of recurring cases of depression in American women. Symptoms include feelings of sadness, irritability, anxiety, and exhaustion. This condition can be a result of the extra hours of darkness on the shorter winter days. Light therapy and antidepressants, as well as exercise and social interaction, seem to help. Talk with your doctor about for further information about ways to cope with SAD.
- Stay Hydrated-Losing just one percent of the water in our bodies can cause dehydration. Even in winter one needs to be vigilant about getting enough water each day. Fruits and veggies are packed with water, so eating plenty of those helps.
- Fight Dry Skin– Cold weather plus dry heat often results in crackly skin. Drinking plenty of water is necessary but may not be enough to fight off dry skin. Hydration in all forms, including lotion and lip balm can help.
- Stay Safe in the Snow-Shoveling snow can be a literal pain. An average of 11,500 snow shoveling-related accidents are treated in emergency rooms each year. More than half are pulled muscle injuries. If you plan to shovel snow, walk around and warm up your muscles first, and be sure to “push” the shovel out of the way, rather than lifting it.
- Ward off the flu– Getting a flu shot, washing hands frequently, and eating a healthy diet are ways to help protect our bodies against those nasty flu viruses
- Keep Active-Despite those well-meaning New Year’s resolutions, we tend to exercise about five percent less in winter than in summer. Exercising in short spurts, such as walking in place while watching TV, going for a brisk walk around the block, or taking the stairs a few extra times are all ways of increasing physical activity.
- Keep Your Energy Up– Shorter days tend to make us sleepier because of the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep cycles. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, eating regular healthy meals, and staying physically active are all ways of improving energy levels. If all else fails, have a good laugh—–studies show that humor can increase energy!