After the holidays, many begin to become aware of the long winter ahead. There are no more distractions of holiday festivities and entertaining family. It’s just you, work, and the cold weather. The short days, lack of sunlight, heavy snow, and wind can weigh down a person. The winter can feel isolating and exhausting. You just want to get back into bed and stay there. The darker part of the year can negatively impact your health. On a smaller scale, you might have a case of the winter blues. On a larger scale, you might have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Get Some Sun
The shorter days mean we’re all potentially vitamin D deficient. This can become a challenge if you work the entire time the sun is out. Try to get outside during your lunch break. During the shorter days, take vitamin D supplements to offset the lack of sunlight. Talk to your doctor about the appropriate amount to take. Another option to make up for the lack of sun is purchasing a lightbox. These lamps can mimic the feeling of the sun and can help with issues brought on by the lack of sunlight, such as sleep cycle disruption or chemical imbalance.
Reach Out to Loved Ones
Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean you should cease all contact with friends and family during January and February. Often, we find ourselves socially isolating ourselves when it gets colder because we lack the energy to reach out. After a hard day at work, it might seem easier to go directly to sleep than meet up with a friend for coffee. If you don’t feel like going out into the snow, call a friend at home, or invite them over for a cup of warm hot chocolate.
Social media has also allowed us to stay connected even if we aren’t able to meet face to face. It might feel better to chat with a friend online, or video chat with them while bundled up in blankets during freezing temperatures than to drive through the snow and ice. Take the time to make the connections, even if it isn’t possible to meet face to face.
Continue Eating Well
The holidays can cause us to ignore dietary advice for Thanksgiving dinners or holiday feasts. We tend to crave heavier foods in the winter, but make sure to keep including vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables in your meals. A winter soup can still be healthy if you include plenty of vegetables. Try to control your portions and how frequently you eat. It’s common to overeat during the winter due to boredom or needed comfort. Find better alternatives to mindless eating. Exercise and sleep during the winter will also help you control your appetite and metabolism.
Get Your Exercise
Even during cold weather, it’s still important to get in your daily exercise. Take up snow-related sports or hobbies, like skiing or snowboarding. If the outdoors isn’t your favorite place in the winter, look into indoor gyms or create an indoor workout plan of your own. There are plenty of ways you can exercise just in your living room that will help you maintain your exercise regimen.
Since people sweat less during the colder months (unless you’re wearing several layers,) many tend to shower less. Washing your hair and trimming your beard during the colder months will help boost your self-esteem and keep you healthy. A long hot shower or bath can boost your mood after a difficult day slogging through slush.
Take Care of Your Skin
Skincare is a must during the winter months. We often think about skincare in the summer when we’re heading to the pool, but skincare is just as important during the winter. Just because there’s less sun doesn’t mean that you can’t experience a sunburn. Wear a little sunblock, especially if you plan to spend some time outside, even in the winter. Invest in chapstick for your lips because the winter winds will dry them up. Some winters can be especially dry, so make sure to invest in a humidifier and take time out of your day to moisturize your skin. Your body will thank you.
Get Enough Rest, But Not Too Much
It’s common to oversleep during the winter. Our circadian rhythms are disrupted by the change in sunlight, which can affect the chemicals that help us sleep. Ensure that you are getting enough sleep and that your bedtime remains relatively consistent. Having a bedtime will help remind your body that it’s time to sleep. Also, try to avoid taking too many naps during the day.
Don’t let the cold weather get you down. It’s common to feel a loss of energy during the colder months. However, pay attention to the severity of your symptoms because there is a chance that it might be a part of a more significant issue. Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder (SAD) isn’t just winter blues. As health care providers, it’s important to get help right away if you’re worried that your symptoms might be something more than just feeling down this season. Standard winter blues can be helped by maintaining a constant exercise regimen and eating healthy foods with plenty of greens. Take it easy this winter and prioritize your health, just as you would your clients.
Jaywalker Lodge offers counseling and aftercare to all of our clients. For more information on our services or how the longer nights ahead may affect your mood, contact us today at (866) 529-9255.
As Chief Executive Officer Bill provides leadership and manage all day-to-day operations of Jaywalker Lodge, an extended care residential addiction treatment program for adult men.