Good Health in Bad Weather
Ahh, spring and summer. That glorious time when the sun basks us in its warmth and healing powers, all of nature is green, cold and flu season is over, the days are longer and we come out of our partial hibernation.
But it’s not yet spring or summer. It is winter, and for better or worse, for love or hate of the cold, it is here. The holidays are over, flu season is in full tilt, and as I write, the snow whips and swirls in the blizzard-force winds outside. It is beautiful, but it is also cold. The sun is breaking through, but the temperature is still below 20 degrees.
Baby, it’s cold outside.
And we may feel cold inside as well.
The holiday cheer has dissipated into a January routine, perhaps has left us with a few unwanted pounds and may have inadvertently left us with a case of the winter blahs as well.
Our resolutions may already be shattered, only a few weeks into the New Year.
But there is hope. Knowing the seasons will change soon again may give us a boost. Knowing the sun and the warm will be back may help. Until then, however, we may need help to get back into a positive groove.
There is help.
There is hope, but there is also work to do. Roll up your sleeves, and consider any or all of these suggestions to keep your health a priority in this New Year.
- Enlist a friend to hold you accountable to any resolutions. Having someone check on you to hold you to your word may be what you need to push you through.
- Get enough sleep. Our predecessors went to bed when it was dark, and got up when it was light. We, too, may need a bit more sleep in the winter months.
- Even if you don’t think you need it, drink water. In the colder months, we may forget that our bodies need to be fully hydrated, even when we may not produce sweat. A good guideline to strive for is this formula: drink half of your body weight in ounces daily. This is an ideal amount, so anything closer to it is progress. Most of us don’t quite get there, but adding a bit more can only help.
- Replace sodas or alcoholic drinks with seltzer water or flavored, carbonated water. This may be all you need to trick your brain into believing you are partaking of the good stuff, when, in fact, it may really be good for you. The carbonation and the cold may satisfy your craving.
- Schedule your annual physical, dental exam or other examinations that are due every few years. Get it on your calendar, and you are committed.
- If you normally take a summer vacation, it’s not too early to start thinking about it, and perhaps making decisions. Having this set gives you something to look forward, which can be a huge morale booster.
- Many gyms or rec centers have winter sign-up specials to get your year off on the right foot. Having an indoor facility to go to will take away the “it’s too cold to exercise outside, so I just won’t” excuse.
- Getting an exercise buddy helps. If you are accountable to each other to meet at a certain time, you will likely honor that, and continue to encourage each other to complete each workout, and come back for more.
- Treat yourself—and take your buddy along—to a coffee date or lunch date at least once a week to reward yourselves.
- DO NOT assume you are invincible on ice. If you are still bound to get outside for any reason, respect the ice. You are no match for it. Stay indoors, and, if you have to miss just one or two appointments or exercise sessions, the loss is worth the risk. Anytime you leave your home and there is even a slight bit of ice, be AWARE! And, unfortunately, the older we get, the more our balance is compromised. This is especially important on ice.
- Consider online or television exercise videos. PBS has some, as does Amazon and Amazon prime if you pay for the premium service already. YouTube is another good source, simply log on and search for your desired activity (www.YouTube.com). It’s always free with internet service.
- Our hands can be dangerous carriers. They pick up germs from places you may not realize, such as:
- public pens, such as those at the bank—bring your own
- restaurant condiment bottles
- public restroom soap dispensers
- our own cell phones/devices—clean them frequently
Our homes may not be a safe haven from germs. Our family members may be sick, or may simply bring home germs from other places. Be aware of all surfaces in your home that are frequently touched, including counters, remote controls, refrigerator door handles and all door handles.
Be sure to wash your hands frequently anywhere you are to reduce risk of transmission to yourself, or anyone else.
*The blues like to prey on us in cold weather. The days are short, the sun is limited, and the weather may not be very friendly. If you are prone to feeling down in the winter, be aware you are not alone. If you can’t shake the winter blues, consider reaching out for professional help, or to a support group or a trusted friend. It is a sign of strength to ask for help.
Very soon, spring will be springing. The green will reappear, the days will get longer, the temperatures will rise, and the air will smell fresh. Nature always makes this promise, and never fails to deliver. Hang in there—winter is a part of the deal, and spring will be that much more sweet when it does arrive.
No matter what the season, be good to yourself.