The winter season is a tough time for many. We want to hunker down indoors and sleep more. This is the body’s way of saying it’s time to slow down. It also makes it all the more important to take care of ourselves before the cold months hijack our health. So let’s talk a look at winter wellness.
Here are a few suggestions for how to take care of our physical & mental wellness in order to maximize happiness & health over the winter — stressing the importance of regular physical movement, relaxation, unplugging from technology, and preventative wellness/health exams.
Get 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three to five times a week. This is the number one thing people can do to take care of their hearts. It also helps maintain health, lose weight, and stave off disease. Further, itcan lower excess hormones in the body, which then lowers stress levels and cancer risk. Keep in mind that 27.6 million people have heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in America.
Strength train: The ability to burn fat and calories slow down with age (2 percent per decade), resulting in more difficulty losing weight. Studies have shown that strength training for six months can increase resting metabolism, so you’ll burn calories long after you’re done with the workout. Strength training with a professional actually burns slightly more calories than a spin class or running. But just because you’re working out doesn’t mean you can consume whatever you want and overeat at meal times. As people get older, they need fewer calories.
With regular practice, guided meditation can help steer you through daily stress, anxiety and depression. It can seem overwhelming at first to sit in a quiet space with your own mind for 15 minutes. If you’re not used to it, even 15 minutes seems like a long time. But building new habits with a structured daily meditation plan helps you be less intimidated.
Some of the best apps include Headspace, Calm, and Buddhify, some of which have basic, free versions. Give one a try and see if you can’t bring some peace into your life. Live in the present and enjoy the activity for what it is. Stop worrying about anything else for the time being. You deserve it.
Unplugging from Technology
Have you ever thought about taking a time-out from Facebook for an extended period of time? It can be pretty liberating to distance yourself from the daily noise of other people. Getting sucked into other people’s drama — often people you barely know — is draining. If you find yourself getting more irritable, frustrated and judgmental in your behavior, it might be social media burnout and may be time for a break from technology addiction. You could always keep one of your social media accounts active, such as Twitter or Instagram, to stay up to date on current events and to look at pretty pictures.
Preventive Wellness/Health exams
For women, an annual wellness exam with your gynecologist should cover your sexual activity, contraceptive use, reproductive health and menstrual pain. Many people don’t know that they have a sexually transmitted infection because often there are no symptoms, which is why it’s so important to get tested even if one has no symptoms.
For those without a general practitioner, a good option is a community health nurse or public health nurse, whose main job to improve health for the general public. Community nurses do a lot for people, everything from running wellness clinic, treating injuries and illnesses. They even coordinate emergency preparedness for disaster relief.
As for preventive health, some measures include breast cancer screening, smoking cessation, daily aspirin intake for high-risk heart patients, plus screenings for depression, hypertension and cholesterol.
Taking care of ourselves, especially in the winter months, can be tough, but it’s a necessary part of life — and of tending to our daily needs and health, now, next year and forever.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.