Lots of change comes at the end of the year. Schedules are fuller. Days are shorter, colder, and darker. The seasonal change of winter has a major impact on our physical and mental health, so it’s important to take care of yourself! Make better winter wellness a priority and a practice!
Preserving Your Mental Health
Our mental wellbeing is a cornerstone of our overall health, especially when it comes to winter wellness. The stress and uncertainty of the past couple of years have created an epidemic of burnout, depression, and anxiety that is impacting us all. During the winter, especially, rates of depression are higher and it takes extra care to manage mental health.
The primary culprit of decreased mental wellness in winter is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. SAD is a type of depression that is directly related to the change of the seasons. It most commonly occurs between November and March, when there is less sunlight and colder weather. Scientists believe that SAD is connected to imbalances in the neurotransmitters that impact our mood, due to reduced exposure to the sun. SAD impacts over 500,000 people in the United States each year.
The best strategy to beat SAD is maintaining a healthy daily routine and to be mindful of the increased impact of SAD on your winter wellness. Take advantage of the hours of sunshine to get a nice serotonin boost. Sit by the window, go for a brisk walk, or use artificial light therapy to soak up the positive benefits of light. Keeping up with sleep hygiene and getting plenty of exercise, despite the early darkness, is critical.
Another major component of winter mental health is the stress of the holiday season. The pressures of holiday shopping and travel, the temptation of sweets and treats, and the packed schedules from Thanksgiving to the new year do a number on our overall winter wellness. The causes of holiday stress are numerous, but can easily be managed.
The Winter Wellness of the Body
Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand. The winter presents a unique set of challenges for keeping up with our physical wellbeing, so it’s important to take a preventative approach. Just as the darker days with less sunshine impact our mental wellbeing, the early evenings disturb our sleep! It’s important to go to bed and rise at the same time every day (yes, even on the weekends). Our bodies appreciate the consistency and sleep boosts our energy, mood, and immunity.
No one wants to go jogging on a cold dark morning. Between gloomier weather and the food and drink of the holidays, it’s easy to put off the gym for another day. Once again: our bodies love consistency. If keeping up your regular exercise routine is impossible in the winter, make adjustments to help maintain it. Swap the outdoor run for an indoor workout video!
The winter season goes by a few other names – flu season, in particular. Suffering from a cold or the flu are a common part of winter. Regularly washing your hands can reduce risk of respiratory illnesses by as much as twenty one percent! This winter, there is another seasonal sniffle to watch out for in the form of COVID-19.
Another Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Winter 2021 marks the second holiday season that is gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic. At this point multiple variants have been introduced – namely the Delta and Omicron variants – and that leaves many with more questions than answers when it comes to winter wellness. While the situation is constantly evolving, there is some action that can be taken.
The COVID-19 vaccines have proven very safe and effective in fighting and preventing the spread of COVID-19. Sixty-two percent of Americans have been fully vaccinated and many are now receiving the recommended booster shot, as immunization begins to wane around six months after the initial vaccine dose. Regardless of vaccination status, there are many things that individuals and families can do to stay safe during another pandemic holiday season. At-home rapid testing can allow families to make quick decisions before traveling and meeting with loved ones.
Wishes for Winter Wellness, Health and Joy
As we enter 2022, with new hopes and dreams, we wish you a happy new year defined by health and happiness! Be well!
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