Winter is right around the corner, but much of the country has been in its icy cold grip for some time now. Here are a few tips to help you get through the cold, dark days of winter.
Light Up Your Life. Sunlight does more than warm you up — it also improves your mood. There is an actual diagnosis for the depression brought on by inadequate exposure to sunlight during the wintertime: seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and it is treated by sitting in front of a “light box” that imitates natural sunlight. Even if you don’t get full-blown depression, many people experience the winter blues. The best therapy is to spend some time in the sun every day.
Increase Vitamin D . Sunlight striking the skin is the catalyst for the producing vitamin D. Deficiencies of this fat-soluble vitamin are common in winter among people living in the northern latitudes, especially those who are over 65 and housebound. Associated with vitamin D deficiencies are higher rates of multiple sclerosis, hypertension, mood disorders, osteoporosis, impaired immunity, and cancer of the breast, ovary, prostate, colon and rectum. Make sure your blood level of vitamin D is in the 50-80 ng/mL range. For most people, this requires taking 2,000-5,000 IU per day.
Keep Up Your Exercise Program. You skiers out there have likely been anticipating winter for some time. For the rest of you, this is a good time to take advantage of a health club that offers an indoor pool, racquet sports, aerobics classes, and/or weight-lifting equipment — and starting now will help your waistline weather the holidays. Be careful not to overdo it, especially outdoors. Strenuous exercise in the cold is more dangerous than in warm weather because cold air makes the blood vessels constrict, raising blood pressure and increasing the risk of heart attack.
Take Care of Your Skin. The air during the winter months is bone dry, and it takes a toll on your skin. Avoid harsh soaps that further dry the skin, and slather on a high-quality moisturizer morning and night. Also, don’t forget the importance of nurturing your skin from the inside out. Drink plenty of water (a minimum of 8 glasses a day) and add essential fatty acids to your daily regimen, such as flaxseed (1/4 cup freshly ground), salmon and other fatty fish — plus fish oil (2-4 capsules per day).
Follow these tips and you will avoid the common winter pitfalls of this time of year.