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5 Ways to Stay Happy and Healthy During the Winter Months



“Every mile is two in winter.”
--George Herbert

The long winter months of cold weather and grey skies can wreak havoc on your physical and mental health. But they don’t have to! Here are 5 easy steps to help you feel better and stay healthier during the most difficult months of the year.
 

1. Exercise

  • Early nightfall and cold temperatures can give you the urge to go into hibernation, but resist the temptation to skip your regular workouts! Research has shown that physical activity will actually make you feel less tired and give you more energy.1 Exercise also can improve your mood.2 Studies have shown it increases the creation of serotonin and norepinephrine, low levels of which have been linked to depression.3, 4

2. Eat More Fresh Produce

  • Winter weather can have you reaching for comfort foods, but too many carbs and sugary snacks can send your body (and mind) into a funk. Heavy foods can also make you feel sleepy, so don’t overdo it on the pasta and chocolate. If you haven’t tried spiralizing yet, now is a great time to try! There are many recipes available on the internet that substitute spiralized zucchini (or zoodles) for noodles in pasta dishes. Carrots, beets and sweet potato are also great seasonal options for spiralizing. Finally, fresh fruits and veggies are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which can help your immune system stay strong!

3. Take a Vitamin D Supplement

  • Among other things, research has shown that vitamin D can help ward off depression and illness5,6. The sun is one of the main sources of vitamin D, so shorter days and grey skies make it harder to get as much of the necessary vitamin. If you’re not wild about swallowing a vitamin D tablet, you can also buy vitamin D as a liquid. 

    Disclaimer: Though vitamin D deficiency is surprisingly common, it’s still a good idea to have your vitamin D level tested and to choose an appropriate amount to take with your nutrition practitioner or physician.

4. Go Outside

  • Feeling cooped up? A brisk walk during the day can help fend off feelings of cabin fever. If you can, take a walk during your lunch break when temperatures are at their highest.

5. Go to Bed Early and Get Up Early

  • Daylight savings time means you’ve got to get up earlier to catch the sun’s rays. And early nightfall has you feeling sleepy early. So don’t fight it, go to bed! Just make sure to set your alarm a little early to catch more daylight.

Citations

  1. Warner, Jennifer, Exercise Fights Fatigue, Boosts Energy, WebMD Website, November 3, 2006 http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20061103/exercise-fights-fatigue-boosts-energy Accessed January 31, 2017 
  2. 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity, Mayo Clinic Website, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389 Published October 13, 2016. Accessed January 31, 2017
  3. Domonell, Kristen, Why Endorphins (and Exercise) make you happy. CNN, January 13, 2016 www.cnn.com/2016/01/13/health/endorphins-exercise-cause-happiness/ Accessed January 31, 2017
  4. Fuss, J, Steinle, J, Bindila, L et al., A Runner’s High Depends on Cannabinoid Receptors in Mice, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. www.pnas.org/content/112/42/13105 October 20, 2015, Accessed February 1, 2017
  5. The Benefits of Vitamin D, Healthline Website, www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/benefits-vitamin-d#Uses2 Published June 23, 2016, Accessed January 31, 2017
  6. Time for More Vitamin D, Harvard Health Publications http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/time-for-more-vitamin-d Published September 2008, Accessed February 1, 2017

Photo by Martin Cathrae. See photo license.


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