Come winter time living in Western Canada can be somewhat difficult. Although we never tire of the beautiful mountain views, especially when they are covered in snow, we can quickly get tired of the minus 25 temperatures and the heavily snow covered streets that the city just never seems to get around to plowing. Over the past 6 weeks we have had more than our share of snow. In fact yesterday some people posted pictures where they opened their front door and the snow was piled up five feet high thanks to our most recent blizzard. Bundling up in three or four layers of clothing, shoveling snow, trying to drive without getting stuck or sliding into the next car may be fun for some, but it can also quickly become quite stressful. And once stress sets in and you start to feel like you have cabin fever, looking after yourself and making healthy living choices a top priority is the key to getting through winter. After all, winter is here to stay, at least until sometime in May.
Healthy living is more than just eating right and exercising. It includes everything we do each and everyday. Here are some great tips for you to try if you find yourself suffering from the stress of winter.
Healthy Living Tips
Laughing is a very good stress reliever. So is doing something that you truly enjoy. If your home is buried in snow, think about ways to have fun at home.
Play a computer game, or play cards with your family. Turn on your favorite music and dance.
Invite some neighbors over for a potluck dinner.
Exercise You Enjoy
There are exercises that we dread but we do them because we have been taught that they are good for us, and then there are exercises that we do because we enjoy them. If you haven’t already found one, figure out an exercise routine that you will actually enjoy. The more you enjoy it the more you will do it, and the more you do it, the better you will feel.
Always Have Something to Look Forward To
My best healthy living tip is to always have something to look forward to.
Plan a vacation or an event. You know, the type of event where you count how many sleeps until that day comes. It may be a special event such as a party or it may be a fun vacation. You should always have something exciting to look forward to.
Drink your favorite hot tea to help keep your body warm. And when you are not drinking tea, drink lots of water to keep your body well hydrated.
Make healthy homemade vegetable soups to ensure that your body gets more vitamins and fibre. Load up your slow cooker first thing in the morning and by dinner time your home will smell wonderful and your hot dinner will be waiting for you. Store leftovers for lunches during the week, or freeze them to use for dinner next week.
Take Your Vitamins
Do you find that during the winter you tend to catch a cold or have the flu more often? To help avoid catching a cold or the flu ensure that you take potent multi-vitamins that include high doses of vitamin D and vitamin B. Vitamin B will help to lower your stress levels and vitamin D will boost your mood and immunity.
Also, take a strong probiotic tablet everyday with dinner to help prevent infections. Supplementing with "good" bacteria (for example, Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium) will help restore the balance of bacteria living in your gut and keep you healthy.
Some of you may live in a humid climate and some in a very dry climate like we do here in Western Canada. And the colder it gets for us the dryer it gets. When the humidity is really low people tend to begin experiencing a dry cough that never seems to go away. Quite often this is simply due to a lack of humidity in their home.
If you find yourself experiencing a dry nagging cough add a humidifier to your room and set it to turn on occasionally throughout the day. We have one in our bedroom that runs several times throughout the night and works very well for us.
If you don’t already have one, find a good massage therapist and go regularly. Certain trigger points and spots of tension in musculoskeletal tissue can cause back pain and neck pain which can generally make you feel lousy. And when you feel lousy it is much harder to focus on other things.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
When it is super cold and snowy outside I begin to feel claustrophobic. I get irritable which can lead to emotional eating of whatever sweets are close at hand. But I have found over the years that by eating small amounts of dark chocolate during the day instead, I happily skip other sweets or any foods that are high in carbs. And it just makes sense to eat small amounts of 70% dark chocolate because it is super low in sugar, satisfies my sweet tooth, and it offers so many health benefits.
Rest Your Body
Get plenty of sleep. If possible take a mid afternoon nap. If you have any trouble sleeping begin taking Magnesium right before bed time. Magnesium relaxes your muscles, alleviates any late night twitching, and it is super good for cleaning out your intestines, if you know what I mean.
You can easily boost your immunity and lower your cholesterol by adding more fresh garlic to your meals everyday of the week.
Skip That What is Bad For You
Avoid using alcohol or drugs as a way to deal with the stress you may feel during the cold winter months. Although I have never used either, I completely understand why a person possibly would. If you feel tempted, try these other ideas first to help yourself feel better and eliminate the stress you are feeling.
Reach Out to Good Friends
Find a way to spend some quality time with a good friend. It may be something as simple as a nice chat on the phone or via skype, or by exchanging a few emails.
Read a Good Book
This winter put on your favorite sweater and wool socks, curl up on the sofa, and read a good book. Reading improves your memory and helps to take your mind off of anything that may be stressing you out.
Improve Mental Function
Work on a difficult puzzle to improve mental function and preserve memory. Time flies when you are busy trying to finish a puzzle and once you are done you feel a sense of accomplishment which will boost your mood.
Old movies, Christmas movies, romances, thrillers – what type of movie do you enjoy? Always make time to relax and watch your favorite movies.
Find a way to enjoy the outdoors – do you enjoy ice skating, skiing or snowboarding? People who participate in these sports tend to enjoy winter a lot more than those that do not. If you don’t skate or ski, consider taking lessons and learning something new. You will make great new friends too.
If you feel stuck inside because it is too cold out choose a hobby to work on at home. You could work on something you already enjoy or learn something new. Some ideas are sewing, woodworking, crafts, baking, painting, writing.
Experiment In The Kitchen
Experiment with different types of foods, such as Chinese food, Japanese food or Thai food. Or, have a cooking contest to see who can make the best pizza or the best cupcakes.
Keep your whole body moisturized with a good body lotion especially in dry cold climates.
Wash Your Hands Often
A very basic healthy living tip that is sometimes overlooked is washing your hands, and making sure that your kids wash their hands frequently too. This will help you catch less colds and will protect you when handling fresh foods in the kitchen. You also want to make sure that you wash your hands after grocery shopping because a million other hands have been on those grocery carts. If soap and water isn’t handy carry a small bottle of liquid hand sanitizer with you and use it throughout the day. This simple tip will help you stay healthy all year round.