Staying Healthy Through the Winter Months

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Are you wondering how to keep your immune system strong over the winter? Some of us may have already fallen victim to winter's wrath. Do you get stressed over the holidays or leading up to them? Silly question -- better yet, are you stressed just thinking about the holidays?  Who's not?

As the months get colder and the daylight hours get shorter our bodies need some extra care and support to, let's face it, just to survive winter. Vitamin D is at it's all-time low for my fellow Minnesotans and access to fresh seasonal vegetables is limited. Remind me again why we choose to live here? To top it all off the holidays provide us with the extra little kick of emotional and mental stress to push our bodies over the edge. We love our families, but sometimes it can just be too much. Am I right? So in addition to being thankful this holiday season, practice a great deal of self care with daily tips for Honu to keep healthy throughout winter!

Tip #1: Fuel your body with the right nutrients

When November and December are filled with holiday party on top of holiday party it’s easy to go off the deep end. As much as we hate to admit, chances are we're consuming way more sugar, fat, and alcohol than what would normally appear in our everyday diets. While great in the moment, this holiday YOLO may cause you to feel fatigue, bloating, brain fog or just downright not good.

To help stay balanced eat plenty of organic vegetables - fresh, frozen, or extra points for fermented. Fermented foods contain health promoting bacteria called "probiotics" that are beneficial for the gut (they're basically best friends).

Drink green juices or make your own homemade soups and bone broth to get important vitamins and minerals your body needs to support a healthy immune system.

Staying hydrated is another "must do" since as we often are more vulnerable to getting sick when we become dehydrated. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces to ensure that you are getting enough fluids.

Finally, consider adding supplements to your daily routine such as Vitamin D and a good probiotic (remember above?) in the winter months to keep your immune system strong. Since the majority of your immune system lives in the gut it is extremely important to keep the digestive tract working at its best.

Tip #2: Keep Moving

Our bodies like movement. As hard as it can be during the winter months to get motivated to go outside, keep your body moving. Find a type of exercise that you really enjoy and stick with it. I've discovered that if you embrace a winter activity like going for a bundled up walk, cross country skiing or snow shoeing you learn not to curse every time it snows. For updated cross country ski trail reports around the metro, check out Skinny Ski!  And the DNR has awesome info on great places to snowshoe (my all-time favorite winter activity)!

If you're fond of heat, take some hot yoga classes or other indoor group fitness classes. My friends at RiverGarden Yoga or Yoke Fitness would love to see you this winter! And just down West 7th from Honu! Crack the code on winter by doing something you enjoy and do it because you want to, not because you feel you have to.

Tip #3: Sleep

Let's take a note from our hibernating friends and embrace the sleep -- you're body naturally needs more of it during these shorter days. This may require changing up your routine a little. When we're short on time, sleep always seems like it's the first thing to go. If you need incentive, remember your immune system is healing and replenishing while you sleep. Sleep can also change your overall state and well-being (and everyone likes a happy person).

Another thing to consider when getting plenty of sleep, is getting good quality sleep. Yep…I’m going there. Consider turning off all electronics a couple hours before bed and do not sleep with any electronics in your bedroom. Why? Well, electronics are known to keep the mind stimulated therefore making it harder to fall asleep and they give off harmful electromagnetic radiation. Rather than beating that next level of Candy Crush, take a relaxing Epsom salt bath, read a good book, meditate or journal before you turn in for the night.

Tip #4: Managing holiday stress

The holidays are a magical time of spend with those you love. Unfortunately, it's easy to max out and wind up feeling a great deal of stress during this time of year as well. I've told you before, but I'm telling you again, stress is the main culprit of disease. And while I could list all the things that lead to feeling mental and emotional stress, it's what you do to manage your stress that really matters.

One of the easiest and most basic things we can do when we start feeling stressed is to take a break.  All I'm asking is that you pause and breathe - one minute or 20 minutes.  I don't care.  Just do it. It's essential to find a moment of peace to calm your nervous system. When you're breathing, take a deep breath through the belly and when you exhale, imagine letting go of all the stress. This breathing can be a quick pause while you are at work or lead to a deeper mediation.

Yoga and massage (shameless plug) are other ways to focus on the breath and let go of the stress in your body.  Just saying.

Tip #5: Say “No” more than you say "yes"

Do you feel obligated to say “yes” to every holiday party or event you are invited to? Do you feel guilty if you don’t go? But stressed when you do go because you have to make a trip to the grocery store or buy a gift? First off, ditch the guilt. Honor yourself by respectfully declining the things that do not serve you and saying "yes" to what does. If it is not something that will be bring you joy this holiday season, then it’s time to start saying "no".

It's likely that the first time you say "no" you will be plagued with guilt (from yourself and maybe others), but those feelings will pass. Remember?  I said ditch the guilt. In time you will start to feel happier and more fulfilled when you only say “yes” to the things in your life that you truly want to do. You will also be way less stressed and overwhelmed because you are doing fewer, more meaningful things.

Tip #6: BodyMind Coaching

Do you feel chronically stressed out during the holiday season? Like you are constantly running from place to place with no time to breath? I hear you and I'm here for you -- to provide you with the extra support you need to eliminate the holiday stress that manifests in your body through BodyMind Coaching.

Free consultations are the name of the game. Send me an email to set up your first BodyMind coaching session or just to chat about what is BodyMind coaching. Sessions typically start by identifying how stress shows up in your life and troubleshooting ways to eliminate it. All of this is with the ultimate goal of getting you to a healthier, happier, and pain free life.