Your Game Plan For a Healthy, Happy Winter
No matter where you live, winter weather and holiday festivities can make people of any age more susceptible to illness and discomfort. These 10 tips can help you stay healthy and feeling good throughout the winter months.
#1 Get a Flu Shot (and Other Recommended Immunizations)
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all adults get a seasonal flu (influenza) vaccine every year. Shingles vaccine protects against shingles and associated complications, and pneumococcal vaccines help protect you against pneumonia and other infections of the lungs and bloodstream. Finally, you may also be due for a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster if you haven’t been vaccinated in the last 10 years. Check with your doctor to get their recommendation.
#2 Go Green
Green vegetables are an essential part of any healthy diet, and are especially important during winter months. Steaming green veggies for a healthy side dish, adding to soups, stews, and stir fry dishes, and enjoying salads regularly will balance out any meal. Other healthy “greens” to add to your menu? Consider green tea as an alternative to coffee or other beverages.
#3 Get Your ZZZZZ’s
Quality sleep is important year ‘round, but may be more difficult to achieve during the bustle of the holidays and longer, darker winter days. The National Institute on Aging recommends these and other guidelines to help you get a good night’s sleep.
– Keep a regular sleep schedule as much as possible
– Avoid late afternoon naps
– Use low light in the evenings
– Avoid large meals just before bedtime
– Develop a bedtime routine
#4 Get Cozy
The Danish practice of “hygge” (pronounced hue-guh) is all about creating a mood of coziness. Hygge can be practiced any place, at any time, but is especially enjoyable during the winter. Use candles to help create a cozy atmosphere at home. Slip on thick, warm socks or a cozy sweater to help keep winter’s chill at bay, and enjoy a steaming mug or tea or hot cider to get yourself in a hygge state of mind.
#5 Take a Deep Breath
It never hurts to slow down for a minute, relax, and focus on the moment. Mindfulness and meditation exercises can help keep us grounded, more relaxed, and more aware of our here and now, rather than projecting into the future and being overly concerned about a to do list or what’s to come. Meditation has been shown to lessen stress, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep among other benefits. Just taking a minute or two to reflect on your day each evening can help set the stage for a better tomorrow.
#6 Find Your Balance
Balance exercises and practices like Tai Chi can help you stay upright when dealing with slippery sidewalks during the winter months. You can practice inside, then put your skills to use when you’re out and about. If you live in particularly cold or snowy area, consider using cleats or other traction gear on your boots or shoes to lessen your chances of falling on icy stairs or sidewalks.
#7 Lighten Up
When the weather turns cool, our desire to eat heavier meals with more fat and carbohydrates kicks in. Look for recipes that use herbs, spices, fruit and vegetable juices (vs. fat and carbs) to liven up meals.
#8 Reach Out
It’s easy to want to hunker down under a blanket when it’s grey, damp, and dreary outside. You need not go out to reach out, however. Keep tabs on friends who may be isolated with a phone call, email, quick handwritten note, or a long letter. Staying in touch with friends and family is even more important this time of year.
#9 Plant a Seed
Planting aromatic herbs like rosemary, thyme, and basil for cooking, or creating a simple container garden with bulbs can add fresh scents and colors to your home. Keeping something green alive and blooming during the winter reminds us that spring will be here before we know it.
#10 Give Yourself a Hand, Put Your Best Foot Forward
Cold weather can take a toll on hands during the winter, and feet tend to be forgotten when they’re out of sight under heavy socks. Treat yourself to gentler soap for bathing, handwashing and doing dishes, and use moisturizing cream on your hands, feet, and nails at night to keep chapped, dry skin from taking over.