- Winter affects our physical and emotional health, from vitamin D deficiency to SAD.
- Cold weather leads to dry skin and the spreading of germs and illnesses.
- To combat winter health problems, stay hydrated, exercise, and get vaccinated.
- Investing in a furnace, staying active, and layering up can help fight against the cold.
- Learn these tips to help you stay healthy and enjoy the winter season.
As the winter season approaches, many people feel the relief of ending the hot and humid summer, while others dread the cold and dark days. Regardless of personal preferences, the winter season significantly affects our health. Winter can bring several physical and emotional challenges, from the flu to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
The Winter Weather and Your Health
Winter is known for its cold temperatures, icy winds, and short days. These conditions can profoundly affect your health as your body struggles to adjust to the changing environment. Here are some ways harsh winter months can mess with your health and provide practical tips to fight back.
Lack of Vitamin D Due to Reduced Sun Exposure
One of the most significant impacts of winter on our health is the reduced availability of sunlight. With shorter days and prolonged periods of darkness, many people suffer from vitamin D deficiency due to decreased sun exposure.
Vitamin D is absorbed through the skin when exposed to UV rays from the sun. When you don’t get enough vitamin D, your mood can dip, you can experience fatigue, and your immune system may weaken. To combat this, get outside during daylight hours whenever possible. Even if it’s cloudy or cold, your skin will still absorb some vitamin D. Alternatively, you can take supplements to ensure you get enough of this essential vitamin.
More Time Spent Indoors Can Spread Germs
As the weather gets colder, we tend to spend more time indoors. This is especially true in areas where winters are harsh. This indoor time can spread germs, infections, and illnesses much easier through the air.
People with weak immune systems, such as young children and older adults, and pregnant women, are more likely to get sick during winter. To minimize the likelihood of getting sick during winter, keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water, consuming a healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals, exercising regularly, and washing your hands thoroughly and often.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Many people experience a dip in their mood during winter months. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression linked to the seasons. It typically begins in late fall or early winter and lasts until spring. The main symptoms include low mood, fatigue, lack of motivation, and sleep disturbances.
SAD can be due to reduced sunlight exposure, vitamin D deficiency, and a disruption in melatonin production due to longer nights. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider if you have SAD. They can suggest a treatment plan, including lifestyle changes, light therapy, or medication.
Dry Skin and Other Skin-Related Problems
The winter season can bring on many skin problems, such as dry skin, eczema or psoriasis, and itchiness. Cold, dry air can remove natural oils from your skin, making the skin feel arid and often itchy, flaky, and irritated. To help cope with these issues, apply a moisturizing lotion or cream on your skin after a shower or bath. Avoid taking long, hot showers or baths, as they can dry your skin more. Keep your body hydrated, drink lots of water or warm herbal tea, and add fatty, nutritious skin-rich food to your diet.
The Flu and Other Seasonal Illnesses
Winter is also the flu season, which is caused by influenza viruses. The flu is highly contagious and is spread through respiratory droplets. The symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, and body aches. Common winter illnesses include colds and respiratory infections such as bronchitis, laryngitis, or pneumonia.
To protect yourself against these illnesses, you can get vaccinated and build your immune system by eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. If you get sick, staying home from work or school is crucial, as getting plenty of rest and fluids and seeking medical help if necessary.
Things You Need to Avoid These Problems
If you’re determined to take care of your health during the winter, there are some tips you can follow.
Get a Furnace
Heating is crucial for winter, and investing in a good quality furnace is essential. You must also know a local furnace emergency repair service just in case your furnace breaks down. They can quickly come to your aid and jumpstart the repair process. This allows you to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home, even during the chilliest winter nights.
Regular physical activity throughout the winter can help boost your immune system and mental health by releasing endorphins. It also helps keep you warm, which can be especially helpful during cold days and nights. Choose an activity you enjoy, like snowshoeing, skiing, or snowboarding.
The most important tip for staying warm during winter is to layer up. Wearing multiple layers of clothing will trap heat and help maintain body temperature. Additionally, wearing a hat and gloves can help keep your head and hands warm when outside in the cold.
Winter can be difficult for many of us, but with the right knowledge and precautions, we can make it through in good health. Remember these tips when winter begins so you can stay healthy and enjoy the cold weather.