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Surviving Winter

Surviving Winter

Here are some ideas for making it through the winter months a little easier:

Embrace the season. Find some reason or reasons to get out and enjoy the winter months. Take up skiing, go hiking, ice skating, sled riding, or just find a reason to be outside such as tending to the wood pile, or even shoveling snow, anything that takes you outside. And while you are out there soak up some sun if available.

Speaking of sun, when it shines take advantage of it. Sunlight to the eyes and on the skin can significantly raise ones’ spirits and health. Then next time you have to take a drive and the sun is shining consider not reaching for the sunglasses and get some bright light to the eyes. When you’re out and about and there is bright reflection from the sun off of water our snow or maybe even a car window don’t think of this as an annoyance but a golden opportunity to get some concentrated light to the eyes and exposed skin. If the light is too bright to look directly at, slightly look to either side or even close your eyes. It’s possible to look directly at bright sun with the eyes tightly closed and still get adequate light exposure to the eyes. Sunlight can raise your spirits, enhance your mood and support your immune system.

Speaking of immune system, take care of yours through the winter. Regular exposure to sunlight both through the eyes and on the skin will help balance your sleep cycles and increase vitamin D3 levels and ultimately improve immune health. And of course pay attention to your diet. Increase your intake of vitamin C, Zinc, antioxidants, and probiotics. Cut back on refined and processed foods, sugar and carbohydrates, and increase the healthy fats and protein all of which support a healthy immune system. A quality multi-vitamin derived from real food sources can be very beneficial for providing well rounded nutrients. Additionally, consider Aronia, fresh garlic, and increasing fiber intake.

Dress for the season. No doubt the emphasis here is staying warm and dry. There are many different types of fibers both manmade and natural. Natural fibers as the first layer up against the skin are always best. Example: cotton, linen, silk and wool. Cotton is usually quite soft but only has modest insulation qualities. Cotton also holds moisture. This is usually not an issue for someone dressing for limited casual exposure to colder temperatures. But if dressing for long term outdoor exposure, cotton should be avoided especially as a base layer where moisture is certainly not wanted. Wax or oil treated cotton does make a good outer layer to repel wind and water. Wool and silk make very good base layers as they wick moisture away from the body and have excellent insulation qualities. They also help to keep the wearer comfortable in a wider range of temperatures than other fibers. Wool in particular is good for any layer. Manmade fibers typically make better outer layers. Fleece is a good example here. High loft insulation, whether natural goose down or manmade, are also good for outer layers. An important note with this type of high loft insulation is that it mainly traps heat and does little to regulate temperature if the wearer begins to heat up due to increased activity. It’s become increasingly popular to wear tight fitting undergarments made from manmade materials such as polyester and nylon for example. These kinds of garments look good on the store manikin and are promoted by athletes etc. But, there is a significant downside. Tight fitting garments restrict blood flow and will actually make the wearer colder. Also these types of materials, whether tight fitting or not, are marketed to wick moisture away from the body and they do just that. But they will also cause the wearer to perspire more. Lastly, the most important area of the body to insulate and keep warm is the core. This includes the upper chest area, neck and head. Rule of thumb, if you’re cold put on a warmer hat.

Dry skin is another common issue associated with winter. Healthy well-nourished non itchy skin contains moisture and oils, specifically the moisture is held in the skin by the oils. Start out by treating and improving skin health internally through diet. Healthy oils such as those from fish, avocado, olives, hemp hearts, chia seeds, etc. are critical for skin health. Externally use only lotions that contain quality ingredients and oils and nothing artificial. The next time you’re done bathing and your skin is still wet, try trapping and rubbing that moisture into the skin with a quality oil or lotion. Winter air is dryer by nature. When the heat in the house runs it dries it out even more, especially if the type of heat is forced air. Try not running the heat at night. This will no doubt cause the house to be a lot cooler at night but will also allow more moisture to stay in the air.

Written by DMK of Seven Grains