Turn Winter, into a Wonderland
Well, if you’re like me and not Brianne, you’re likely stuck with old man winter now for what will likely seem like forever.
I know you’re probably thinking, why would I want to write about the dreaded cold, desolate, blustery, long, winter?
Well, the truth is, I really don’t mind winter- however that’s not why I chose to write about it. I wanted to take some time to address how to make these winter months easier mentally and physically.
It’s here to stay, so let’s make the most of it!
With the seasons changing quickly, and the days getting shorter we can begin to feel effects of this quite quickly.
Seasonal affective disorder or SAD, is very common, especially in locations where there are longer winter seasons, shorter days, and decreased sun exposure.
Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, this blog post is still for you. I want to share some great ways to up your self-care, while boosting your immunity at the same time.
We know winter comes with a with a bunch of nasty viruses that seem to linger around for far too long. When we are sick we are more likely to push ourselves rather than slow down and make time for self-care, so why don’t we work proactively and try to avoid getting sick in the first place?
Let’s dive in!
Increase your Vitamin D
(Disclaimer: always consult your wellness practitioner when adding in supplements to insure there are no interactions between any current medications you may be taking).
As I mentioned before about shorter days, this means our hours of sunlight are significantly decreased. With less sun exposure our skin isn’t absorbing the suns rays and isn’t producing Vitamin-D for us- so it is very important, especially in winter to supplement with Vitamin-D.
We can up our Vitamin-D with whole foods such as fatty fish, eggs or orange juice, or with a good quality vitamin supplement. I emphasize the good quality part as many grocery store vitamins have high amounts of fillers and are synthetically made low quality vitamins.
It is also important to note that if our bodies have high amounts of inflammation, from foods or being sick for example, we are likely to absorb less of the vitamin, and we will touch on that shortly.
You may have heard the expression, ‘our gut is our second brain,’ and it really is. Gut health is a vital part of a healthy life, and sadly this is often not addressed.
Often times inflammation can be present within our bodies, and is commonly linked to a food intolerance. Intolerances can sometimes have no symptoms that are recognized by an individual, or can be causing issues such as pain, nutrient malabsorption, or even joint pain.
Another culprit to an imbalance in our gut biome is antibiotic use, especially when use has been long term or frequent. When there is upset in the health of our gut, a disruption in the production of serotonin occurs.
Serotonin is a hormone produced within our bodies, and the main source of production is actually in our gut (gastrointestinal tract). Serotonin plays a huge role within our bodies, it regulates our mood and is responsible for our happiness, often known as our happiness hormone.
You see, it goes like this, unhealthy gut = decreased serotonin production = feeling unhappy.
With some simple changes in our diet alone we can begin healing our gut and instead see the change of, healthy gut = increased serotonin production = feeling HAPPY.
Improve the quality of food you’re consuming
With what we’ve already covered, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this so I’ll keep it short and sweet- EAT WHOLE FOODS.
Staying away from refined and highly processed foods makes a huge impact in decreasing inflammation and in turn, boosting our serotonin production.
Processed foods are filled with refined sugars and salts, as well as additives that our body struggles to break down, if it can at all.
When choosing to eat processed foods you’re not going to get the energy or nutrients that you require for your body to function properly. This can increase fatigue, making it even harder to make choices that are going to nurture our bodies.
Exercise / physical activity
I like to put both descriptions for the same concept, move your body.
Often we think of exercise as something that requires us to break a sweat or be challenging for us to complete- but I’m literally just talking about moving your body in whatever way feels best to you.
It can be a short walk or an hour at the gym- both are far better than laying on the couch when it comes to increasing your happiness. Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, and boost our mood.
I think a great way to keep this fun and engaging is to try a new activity whenever you have the chance. Not only will it challenge you, you’ll likely have a few laughs, and laughter is good for the soul.
Have a constant routine and get adequate rest
Having a sleep and wake routine is a great way to promote adequate rest and set up your days to be more productive.
When we are well rested we are more likely to have the energy to make good choices when it comes to things like nutrition and exercise.
When we are rested, we feel we are able to take the time to make home cooked, nutritious meals, and carve out time to get some physical activity in.
Sleep hygiene is a huge concept to explore and learn ways you can improve the quality and amount of sleep you’re getting.
Create your Wonderland
There are so many ways we can make the most of the winter months, and it doesn’t have to be filled with feelings of unhappiness.
All of the topics we covered will not only help with improving your happiness, but you will also get a boost in your immunity by implementing these practices. So, now that you’re equipped with the tools to stay healthy and happy, I say, “BRING ON THE SNOW”.
Taylor Goebel xx
LPN & Student Coach