How to Stay Healthy This Winter
Winter in Michigan has people falling into two distinct camps: There are those who embrace the change in seasons and look forward to snowmobiling through forest trails, or get excited about skiing, snowshoeing and even winter hikes, and then there are others who shy away from the cold. They prefer to crank up the thermostat, dig out their warmest slippers and find ways to make the best of their winter indoor hibernation.
Whichever side you land on, you will want to make it a priority to stay healthy this winter. This includes not only eating good-for-you foods and taking care of your body, but protecting your mental health as well. Survey results released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown more people are experiencing feelings of anxiety and stress during this continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Staring down a long winter with lots of inside time may not make people feel better, so being proactive about your health this season will be important. Here are some things to focus on:
Flu shot. This one is simple. This winter it is especially important for everyone to get their seasonal flu shot. These shots are designed not only to protect you from the most common strains of the flu, but to ensure people with the flu don’t end up taxing the resources of their doctors’ offices or hospitals, which are seeing an influx of COVID-19 patients right now.
Skin care. Dry, cold air can take a real toll on your skin, especially the skin on your face, ears, neck and hands that typically are exposed when you step outside in winter. After a shower or bath, smooth on a good moisturizer. Because your hands, feet and face tend to show dry spots first, moisturize those areas right before bed, as well. And don’t forget sunscreen if you’re heading outside in the winter. Even if it’s cold and cloudy outside, the sun’s UVA/UVB rays can still damage your skin. Apply a broad-spectrum sunblock to your face, ears and neck.
Relationship TLC. Tend to your close friendships this winter. Personal relationships can take a backseat during times like this pandemic when it is more difficult to see friends and relatives in person. Pencil in time for phone and video calls with friends, or arrange to meet them for a walk if they live nearby. Keeping these bonds strong will help your mental health.
Nutritious foods, warming foods. If your winter pantry tends to run a little carb-heavy and include extra snacks, you are not alone. Sometimes our eating patterns get a little unhealthy in the winter, kicked off by rich holiday meals and way too many sweets. Once that indulgence is over, get your healthy eating back on track by deliberately adding more fruits and vegetables into your winter meals. Think hearty stews, warming soups or chicken and vegetable pot pies straight from the oven.
Hydration. While water is hands-down the best way to stay hydrated in winter, cold water can be unappealing when the temperature drops. To get the water your body needs, try changing things up a bit. Add a slice of lemon, orange or even lime to a mug of hot water for some citrusy, warm sipping. Heat up apple cider and mix in a few spices for a dessert-like treat. If you are a tea lover, create a little “tea station” in your kitchen using a tray or extra cutting board covered with a cloth napkin. Keeping an assortment of teas handy will remind you to use them.
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