The twinkling lights of the holidays may increase holiday cheer, but the season also brings with it drier weather, more illnesses, and darker days.
“Focus on your whole health,” Dr. Vera-Burkhalter says. “Being healthy during the winter means taking care of yourself holistically.”
As a guide, Dr. Vera-Burkhalter offers these top 10 tips for staying well this winter season:
- Wear sunscreen. Although it seems counterintuitive, Dr. Vera-Burkhalter says not to forget that the sun’s rays are still powerful during the winter months, and you need to be proactive by wearing sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
- Rethink your fitness routine. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. To achieve this goal, you may need to switch up your routine in the winter to account for the change of light and temperature or just to keep yourself motivated. Don’t get stuck in a rut.
- Stay hydrated. When it’s hot during the summer, it’s easy to remember to drink eight glasses of water to cool down. But it’s just as important in the winter to stay hydrated and flush out toxins in your body. Staying hydrated also protects your skin from winter dryness.
- Keep your home safe. This is a good time of year to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working. Replace batteries, if needed.
- Avoid overindulging in comfort foods. The holidays and winter season mean we are more likely to indulge in comfort foods. While it’s fine to eat your favorite treats, do so in moderation.
- Wash your hands. The best way to prevent illness is to regularly wash your hands. Be sure to use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. You can time yourself by humming the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
- Focus on sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends seven or more hours of sleep for adults. Getting regular sleep can help fight off illnesses and keep you healthy.
- Socialize. Spending time with family and friends keeps you physically and mentally active. It also helps support your overall well-being.
- Eat to build immunity. Foods rich in iron, zinc, and protein, such as peas and beans, can help support a healthy immune system. Vegetables like carrots and pumpkins are full of beta carotene. The body converts this into vitamin A, Dr. Vera-Burkhalter says, which boosts immune system function.
- Make an appointment for your annual wellness exam. When you visit your primary care provider (PCP) annually, you establish a baseline for care. That way, when you do get sick, your PCP knows you well and knows how best to provide your care.
To keep your skin moisturized this winter, make this recipe for homemade body butter.