10 Tips to Stay Healthy During The Winter Months
Negative temperatures, freezing winds and blizzard conditions don’t create the best recipe for staying healthy. For the first couple weeks of 2018, we had a windchill of -20 and all I wanted to do was curl up under a blanket with all the coffee. The months after the holidays can really drag on and I’m working hard at not wishing time away. In the meantime, I’m using this colder season to stay healthy during the winter, improve my discipline and create habits that will carry through the rest of the year.
10 Tips to Stay Healthy During The Winter
1. Jump Rope
I’m so much less active during the winter. I try my best to get out of the house and snow-shoe, ice skate or get involved in some type of activity. But the reality is, that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. Most of the time I’m inside, sitting at a desk and staring at a computer.
In order to keep active in a small space, I always keep a jump rope nearby. It’s inexpensive and doesn’t take up a lot of room. Little bursts of cardio is a great way to balance all that sitting we do in the winter. I set a timer for every hour or so and jump rope in place for a few minutes. If you don’t have a jump rope, doing squats and lunges are a great alternative.
Jumping rope supports cardiovascular health, improves coordination, and tones your lower body. The portability makes it easy to use at home or the office. I also bring it on long car rides so I can get my circulation moving when we make rest stops!
2. Start your day with vegetables
You may not like the sound of this one, but it changes things big time. The more I eat vegetables, the more I crave them. I always start my day with either a bowl of veggie cereal, steamed greens and a veggie burger (perfect if you like something savory in the morning), or some type of green smoothie.
In fact, I try to incorporate vegetables into every meal. I aim to eat a mixture of raw and cooked vegetables daily. Recently, I found myself craving kale! Who craves kale!? Me, apparently. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables also curbed my chocolate craving, making it almost non-appealing. Almost. I’d much rather reach for fresh or dried fruit instead.
3. Essential Oils
I’ll admit it: I’m a total germaphobe. The other day, a woman passing by me in a grocery store aisle nasty-coughed (you know the kind) in my face without covering her mouth (a germaphobe’s worst nightmare). Winter is prime-time for the cold and flu, but essential oils have helped strengthen my immune system along with some of the other tips mentioned.
People usually fall into two categories with essential oils: you either love them or you’re tired of hearing about them. I’ve been using essential oils since I was a teenager and still can’t stop raving about them. They’re full of natural health benefits and relieved my asthma symptoms (I haven’t used my inhaler for eight straight months now). Essential oils are also a powerful cleaning aid. Read about all the ways you can use them here.
Essential oils like frankincense (all-time favorite), lemon, peppermint, clove, and oregano naturally boosts the immune system. Many have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. There is a right and wrong way to use essential oils, so check out this website before you get started. Some essential oil brands add fragrance and other filers, so do your research. I buy mine from Organic Infusions and have been a loyal customer for a long time.
4. Boost Immunity
We just talked about essential oils to boost immunity, but I also wanted to mention astragalus, elderberry, and vitamin C.
Vitamin C does more than protect your immune system. It improves the body’s mineral absorption, provides natural anti-aging benefits, and can help your lungs and airways function better by reducing inflammation (my personal favorite)… just to name a few.
Astragalus root is one of the most powerful immune-boosting plants on the planet, according to Dr. Josh Axe. I started using it for asthma relief and it quickly became part of my health routine. I prefer the liquid extract form and take it at the first signs of a cold. It’s also known for its anti-inflammatory properties, cardiovascular protection, and even reduces symptoms from chemotherapy. As a teenager, I remember my acupuncturist giving it to her patients to help with the side-effects of chemo. I highly recommend finding a licensed acupuncturist in your area if you have any questions or concerns.
Elderberry, I stinkin’ love this stuff. It’s commonly used to fight infections. I take it regularly, especially during the winter months. In the beginning of winter, my husband got pretty sick. We live in a studio apartment and I was sure I was going to catch it, but never did. I know elderberry played a huge role in that.
5. Stock the fridge
I love snacks. Seriously, love them. Actually, my favorite ‘meal’ consists of a bunch of different finger foods, aka snacks. Hummus platter with pita bread, fresh fruit, plant-based cheese dip, mini bite-sized pizzas… all the things.
To keep snacking healthy, I always make sure the fridge is stocked with good options. Instead of a bag of potato chips, I keep Trader Joe’s corn tortillas in the freezer and make a few into chips if I’m feeling peckish. For Christmas, my parents gave us an air popper for popcorn, game-changer. I’ll season the popcorn with a dash of salt and nutritional yeast. Mmmm. So good! Fresh fruit, dates or figs, carrots and homemade hummus, celery and peanut butter (ants on a log, anyone?)… I keep it all on hand. That doesn’t mean I never reach for unhealthy options, but it happens less often with a fridge packed with nutrient-rich snacks.
6. Stay Hydrated
Is it just me, or is it a lot harder to drink water during the winter?
I’m not sure if it’s the cold temperatures or what, but it’s so much easier to reach for coffee over water. I was drinking so much caffeine that my eyes started twitching, so I knew I had to make a change.
I’ve limited coffee to just a cup or two in the morning. The rest of the day I go for herbal tea. Peppermint, spearmint and stinging nettles tea are my three favorites at the moment. I’ve never been the biggest fan of tea, but the more I drink it, the more I like it.
As far as water goes, I bring a reusable water bottle wherever I go. The pop-up lid makes it easy to sip all day long. I’ve really been enjoying lemon and lime to my water. It almost tastes like lemonade and alkalines the body. My body feels so much better hydrated. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my skin after consistently drinking more water. It’s one of the most common help tips for a good reason.
7. Bring The Fresh Air Inside
Being stuck inside for 4-5 months of the year can give you serious cabin fever. If you’re struggling with the winter blues, dress warm and get outside as often as you can. Winter sports are a great option, but just going for a leisurely walk can do a world of good. Feel the sunlight on your face and take in surroundings other than your living room.
If I’m going to be inside all day, I turn off the heat and open my windows for a little while. Indoor air can become stale and it helps to circulate fresh air in your home. Just 20 minutes makes a big difference. Polluted air can have serious health concerns, so make sure to open up a window or two for a few minutes every day. Plants can also help purify the air. I have eight plants around the apartment. They improve air quality and add a fresh pop of greenery during the gloomy months.
8. Eliminate toxins
Have you ever gotten a headache after cleaning with Bleach or Commit? I have. Actually, I had one of the most severe asthma attacks after just five minutes of using bleach even with all the windows open. It wasn’t a good time.
Common household cleaners and beauty products can be seriously damaging to your health. Many contain carcinogens, are dangerous to children and pets, and can cause respiratory problems. Get that stuff out of your house, pronto! The winter months are the perfect time to raid your cleaning supplies and swap out harmful products for natural (and cheaper!) alternatives.
Here’s a list of the worst of the worst. You don’t have to spend a fortune on expensive “green” cleaning products. Baking soda, a jug of distilled white vinegar, lemon essential oil, and castile soap does it all. Check out this website for some ideas. We’ve saved so much money by creating DIY cleaning products and they work better than the toxic stuff. *Insert praise hands emoji here.*
9. Supplement if needed.
Getting regular blood tests to check your vitamins and minerals is crucial. I say crucial because I believe in taking preventative measures with my health. I don’t want to wait until there’s a serious problem to do something about it. A recent blood test revealed I was deficient in Vitamin D3 (but I live in the Northeast, so I wasn’t surprised).
Vitamin D3 protects against cancer, improves our immune system, boosts our mood, and aids in fighting heart disease. A deficiency in Vitamin D3 has been linked to some pretty serious problems including heart disease, cancer, depression, asthma, diabetes and the list goes on.
I use Direct Labs to order my blood tests. The process is simple and painless. After reading my results, I supplement daily with Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin C. Supplementing can be neccesary to stay healthy during the winter.
10. Renew Your Mind
Have you heard the phrase, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground?”
Often times, we let our minds wander, especially when we’re cooped up inside. One thought leads to another. This can be dangerous, friends. It’s a safe-haven for our most private thoughts, the ones we are ashamed of or don’t want anyone to know about. Sin begins in the mind. We think, then act. Sin aside, it’s also a breeding ground for anxiety and depression.
As someone who struggles with anxiety, I know that when I let my mind wander during an anxiety attack, the panic becomes worse because I’m dwelling on fear, not faith. I used to hide my anxiety and didn’t tell anyone about it, but in my mind, it was raging. For years, I believed my anxiety was uncontrollable. But that’s not the case.
We need to be disciplined by controlling our thoughts. How do you do that? Completely saturate yourself with God’s Truth. All day long. Start your day with the Word, whether you’re up at 5:00 am or 4:00 pm to work the night shift. Listen to praise and worship music or a podcast throughout the day. Talk to God about everything, even the small decisions. When your mind starts wandering, go to Scripture. Pray. Change your thought pattern and think about whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable. Light and love will radiant from you.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
After moving from Florida to Maine, these tips have really helped combat the winter blues. I hope implementing some of them can help you, too! Know you’re not alone and seasons are temporary. Let me know where you are reading from and how do you stay healthy during the winter!