Stay Well This Winter! Tips for Optimal Health

by on January 10th, 2010 at 7:00 am

The winter months may make a cozy bed and pile of junk food much more appealing than a balmy summer afternoon, as activity levels tend to drop, appetite revs up and moods tend to plummet in cold, dreary weather. While this certainly does not help keep your immunity levels, waistline or emotions in check, there are simple lifestyle changes you can adopt to stay healthy during this blustery season!

Sound Slumber for Sunnier Moods

While there’s generally no hesitation for spending extra time in bed, make sure you’re getting quality sleep and enough of it, as loss of zzz’s can dramatically impact mood. In addition, try to adjust your wake time to be in alignment with the sun to help the body’s Circadian rhythms, as research shows that a disrupted body clock causes depression and lethargy. Consider getting a light box to help ward off seasonal affective disorder, which is said to be triggered by shorter days and lack of natural light.

Matricaria recutita and Passiflora incarnata are great for helping promote sleep, while St. John’s Wort, Passiflora and Skullcap are all effective for promoting mood. Aromatherapy essential oils of lemon, grapefruit and geranium are also well known for their anti-depressant properties and oil diffusers, space sprays, and bath oils are great ways to gain their benefits.

Get Physical

While you may or may not reap the benefits from outdoor exercise during the winter depending on your location, you don’t have to abandon a workout regimen completely. More and more research suggests that moderate, regular exercise supports a strong immune system, not to mention combat stress. Hitting the classic gym is always an option, watching an exercise DVD in your living room or investing in equipment you can use at home such as free weights or a treadmill can all help keep you moving and fit.

Watch What You Eat

It’s not your imagination… you are hungrier in the winter! The body’s natural response to cold weather is to constrict the skin’s pores and superficial connective tissue to help deter heat loss, which redirects body heat into the core, which includes the stomach. To fill up without adding extra calories, choose nutritious and satisfying foods such as low sodium soups, stews, steamed vegetables, and oatmeal. Try eating a little more lean protein to stay full longer, such as eggs, beans, chicken and fish.

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