Guest Blog Post by Lauren Tollison.
As the weather gets cool, it can be hard to take care of your health in the ways you usually do. It can be frustrating when you have a routine set up, and cold weather forces you to adjust your daily routine and create new habits. We are here to give you tips on making this transition exciting and making taking care of your health throughout cooler weather something you look forward to.
Have you ever noticed that you aren't as thirsty when the weather gets cooler? This is because, in cold weather, the body’s thirst response is diminished by up to 40%, even when dehydrated. This makes drinking water hard and even unappealing at times. Try these suggestions to make drinking water in the winter more appealing because the truth is, you can lose water just as quickly in the winter as you do in the summer, and hydration is crucial to health:
Mix it up with tea. Tea is a fun way to drink more water, and the hot water can be especially inviting on a winter day. Not only do these teas taste good, but they have a range of health benefits, such as boosting your immune system. Black tea is an excellent choice for winter. Not only is it hydrating, but studies have shown that it can reduce stroke and heart disease in the winter if consumed regularly. Its anti-inflammatory properties may also help prevent flu. Green tea is an excellent source of hydration and according to ancient Chinese medicine, helps remove excessive internal heat. Herbal teas have been shown to relax your mind and increase your mood—for example, peppermint tea. Peppermint tea is minty, soothing, and may help your body fight infection, and we all have experienced a cold in the winter.
If you aren’t a fan of tea, you can still make hydration fun by mixing your water with your favorite fresh or frozen fruits to add flavor. Try broth-based soups to aid with fluid needs or snacking on water-based foods.
Because the body’s thirst response is diminished in colder weather, one of the main reasons for dehydration is forgetfulness. To help with this, make reminders to drink water. The amount of water an individual needs varies based on many factors, such as activity levels, environment, and overall health. Hundreds of hydration apps are available to help you set reminders and reach your water drinking goals. Hydration apps can help personalize how much water is needed for you. Another tip to help with forgetfulness is to structure your drinking schedule. For example, make it a habit to drink a glass of water before and after every meal. This structure will eventually become a habit, and your body and mind will thank you.
Get Vitamin D
Your body makes vitamin D when sunlight hits the skin, and during the winter, people often spend less time outside, making it harder to maintain a steady amount of vitamin D; it is vital to keep your vitamin D levels up for many reasons. For one, people with low vitamin D are more likely to get a common cold. Also, low vitamin D levels are associated with loss of bone density. Some ways to keep an optimal vitamin D level is by taking a vitamin D supplement, or spending some time outdoors (while wearing your Brush On Block, of course). Make healthy food choices naturally rich in vitamin D, for example, tuna, cheese, egg yolks, and cereals. Try drinking orange juice or soy milk. To get your vitamin D from sunlight during cooler weather, try setting an amount of time to get outside each week (with sunscreen). If there are days when it is too cold outside, try hanging out by a window (also with sunscreen). If you think your vitamin D levels are low, consult with your doctor, and they can recommend a vitamin D supplement. Always ask your doctor first because taking too much vitamin D can be toxic, and some people don’t need it as much as others.
The air is drier in winter, which can worsen dehydration and lead to dry skin, chapped lips, irritated throats, itchy eyes, dry nostrils, and much more, and who would want this? Here are some tips to combat the dry air:
- Get a humidifier to add moisture to the air and prevent dryness all over your body. A humidifier can also help ease symptoms caused by a common cold or the flu.
- Moisturize directly after washing your face or body when your skin is still damp to help lock in moisture
- Apply sunscreen daily—Sun damage results in thinner skin that doesn’t hold onto moisture, making your skin even drier. Apply sunscreen to protect the skin barrier and maintain hydration and glow as well as lower your risk of skin cancer, which is just as high in winter as in the summer.
- Shorten your shower or bath time, so you don’t strip too much of the skin’s natural oils.
Get Plenty of Light
Many people suffer from SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, as the days shorten and there is less daylight. It is shown that mood usually gets better as spring comes around and there is more daylight, but why wait around to feel better when there are ways to fight back? Try light therapy, a home-based treatment in which a box mimics outdoor light, and you are exposed to it for a certain amount of time. Take a short walk outside on a bright day (don’t forget your Brush On Block). Sit next to windows, whether at work, in restaurants, or home. Bring more lamps into your home. Try a dawn simulator, also called sunrise clock, to help you wake up naturally with increasing light levels. These produce artificial sunlight over a set period. A sunrise improves depression and energy, so even if you don’t suffer from SAD, this could be a great thing to try out this winter season.
Hydrate Your Skin
Colder weather can wreak havoc on your skin as well. If you spend a lot of time indoors, you can thank your heating system, especially if it is a forced air system, for contributing to that dry, itchy feeling, but also environmental humidity is just lower in winter.
To prevent dry skin, up the hydration level of your moisturizer. If you usually use a moisturizing lotion, bump up to a cream during the colder months. Or if you like your moisturizer, consider adding a face oil or moisturizing serum to your daily routine. These products are designed to be used as needed to give your skin an additional drink of moisture, but also vitamins and extracts to make your skin better able to recover from exposure. Brush On Block's Nobody's Perfect Daily Repair Oil fits the bill nicely – this blend of oils is formulated to be non-greasy and absorb quickly, giving you the moisture your skin craves without leaving you feeling like an oil slick.
Lips often bear the brunt of colder weather, and it shows up as unsightly chapped lips. To keep lips smooth and comfortable, choose products that moisture and prevent future damage by protecting from UV light. Brush On Block's Protective Lip Oil SPF 32 fits the bill, as it hydrates and protects against UV light, all while adding a hint of color.
Move Workouts Inside
If you wake up on a cold day when all you want is to be warm or come home from work with rain pouring down, it can be hard to motivate yourself to work out. It is important to move your workouts indoors during winter for this reason and because cold weather can make it easier to injure yourself. Here are some tips for working out indoors so your workout motivation isn’t based on the temperature outside: Start by finding an indoor alternative to the workout you do outside. If you are a biker, maybe try to find an indoor cycling class you like. If you are a runner, find a gym with treadmills you enjoy. If you are a rower, find a place with an indoor rowing machine.
Take this time to try new things out. Maybe you’ve only biked for your workout, and moving your training indoors helps you find your passion for hot yoga. What better way to warm up on a cold day than yoga in an 80-100 degree room? Maybe you get your cardio in by having a dance-off with family or friends. Whatever it may be, moving your workout indoors during winter may sound unappealing, but it is full of new opportunities to take care of your health in different ways. Enjoy the vitamin D outside on pleasant weather days, but when the cooler weather comes and you aren’t motivated to work out outside, it is essential to have an indoor alternative you are excited about.
Reduce Stress and Pains
Winter can be a busy and stressful time of the year, so your health needs to be a priority. Try reducing stress through meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and other stress-relieving activities.
For many people, aches and pains can worsen in winter; this can make you overall not feel like your best self. Take care of yourself by trying an at-home massage to increase blood flow and loosen muscles, apply heating pads to areas of pain, and stay hydrated.
The better you are about taking good care of yourself in winter, the better you will feel when spring rolls around again. You won't need to shake off the winter doldrums, because you won't have any! So embrace the cooler weather, and enjoy trying out new things to keep you healthy and happy.