Health & Wellness

Thriving Through The Cold: A Guide to Seasonal Well-Being

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Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She is frequently lost in a good book when she is not writing about how technology impacts our everyday health and wellness.

Ask enough people how they feel about the colder seasons, and you’ll get different responses. Many will say they enjoy the brisk temperatures and the chance of snow, while others will likely be less thrilled. However you feel about the changing of the seasons, you must prepare accordingly so you can stay safe, fit, and happy. A cold snap can affect you and your family in many ways, so it’s wise to prepare ahead of time so you can stay in shape both mentally and physically until it gets warm again.

Prepare For The Many Ways That Winter Can Affect Your Health

You likely know that colder days are ahead, but you may not realize the various ways that changes in the weather can affect your health

One of the most surprising impacts that weather can bring is to your mental health. Weather during the winter can be very jarring, especially as the days get shorter and the cold temperatures prevent you from spending as much time as you like outside. You may even experience SAD (seasonal affective disorder), which, among other factors, is caused by a lack of serotonin, a hormone that elevates your mood. You could suddenly feel sad, irritable, or lack the energy you had during the spring and summer.

Extreme cold and weather changes can also affect your physical health. When it’s chilly outside, your arteries become a bit narrow, making your heart pump harder and affecting your blood pressure. The loss of humidity in the air can also affect your nails and hair, making it more brittle. If you lack enamel on your teeth or have gum problems, your mouth could be more sensitive during the winter and cause pain.

If you’re prepared for the potential mental and physical ailments during the cold season and make the proper adjustments, you can enjoy the season more.

Avoiding Winter Stresses

It’s crucial to avoid potential stress during the cold season so you don’t feel the effects of SAD or become depressed. If you know you tend to feel a bit lonely during the winter, start planning to reach out to family and friends and plan weekend activities or a night each week where you visit each other for dinners. If that’s impossible, or you want even more companionship during the season, you can volunteer in your community. By working at a local soup kitchen or retirement home, you can be around friendly people and feel good about contributing to the community.

While some people think they’ll feel bored during the cold season, others can become depressed because they feel overwhelmed during this time of year. Overcommitting your time to family gatherings and festivities can leave you burned out and longing for the future when you’ll be left alone. To avoid these negative feelings, plan your time accordingly, and if you think a family tradition may need a bit of a change, don’t be afraid to bring it up.

Cold and snowy weather can create the potential for stressful moments, but you can avoid falling into an anxiety trap by planning. For instance, you might constantly worry about slipping on the ice on your patio or the driveway. You can address this stressor by shoveling early or applying salt to the driveway so the ice can’t accumulate.

You may also worry about driving to work and running errands in snowy or icy weather because you need to go slowly or fear you may veer off the road. You can cut out some of that anxiety by investing in good winter tires. If you know you’ll be driving a lot, it may be time to invest in tires with deeper treads because the tread grips the road, giving you more control. Many new tires promise to last tens of thousands of miles so that you can drive without fear of an accident.

Staying Physically Fit

There are also ways that you can overcome the potential health issues of the winter season. By exercising and eating right, you can feel better while giving yourself a good chance of fighting stress and depression. Getting enough sleep during cold and cloudy months is also important so you can wake up feeling energized and more motivated to exercise. 

You have a better chance of fighting off disease when you’re healthier overall. The good news is there are many ways to boost immunity during winter. Drinking enough water ensures that your organs function properly so your body runs more efficiently, making you less likely to get sick. Wearing warm and comfortable clothing ensures your comfort and keeps your body temperature from dipping too low, which can suppress your immune system.

You may want to exercise more, but if you find yourself making excuses on account of the cold or the snow, you’ll ultimately fall flat on your personal exercise goals. Still, you can meet these goals any time of the year by exercising indoors. If you spend a lot of time on the computer, look for a treadmill desk that can keep you moving as you work. 

If this feels too claustrophobic, you can continue exercising outside — even in cold weather by wearing layers and headgear that protect your nose and ears. It also helps to warm up indoors for 10 minutes by stretching or jogging in place so your body isn’t shocked when you walk out the door.

Keeping Yourself, Kids, and House Warm During the Winter

One of the best ways to keep your spirits up during the cold seasons is to create a cozy and stress-free home environment. You’ll likely be spending a lot of time indoors during the winter, so take steps to keep yourself and your family warm, and you’ll enjoy the season that much more.

You can try many hacks to keep your house warm in winter, including rearranging the furniture so that you’re not blocking vents or the radiator. You can also keep precious heat from flowing outside by sealing around windows and covering the pet door. If you’re looking for new decor, you can hang thermal curtains that absorb cold air so you feel less of it.

With that in mind, you and your kids likely don’t want to be cooped up inside all season long, so take time to go out and enjoy nature for at least a few hours per week. When you do, dress the kids in layers, and don’t forget the hats and gloves.

By preparing in advance, you can thrive through the cold and find new joy in the snowy season. Take care of yourself now and enjoy the season; it will be spring soon.

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