As winter approaches, the sunlight hours have decreased as well as the outdoor temperature. The winter is known as “cold and flu” season and for Seasonal Affective Disorder (depression that is brought on by the decrease in the sun’s rays, primarily happening only in the winter months).
More people suffer from depression and anxiety starting Thanksgiving through the New Year due to demands on already packed schedules, mounting debt from Christmas shopping, spending time with dysfunctional family, and rehashing losses of the past year. Extra care must be taken of self during the winter/holiday season to ensure you will maintain proper health. Balance is crucial in all areas of your life, too much of anything can be harmful to your overall health.
Ways to keep yourself healthy and fit during the winter months:
With all the delicious foods we devour during the holidays and the extra food we consume naturally during the winter months, it is important to maintain balance in your eating habits. Eat that fried turkey leg but balance it with a salad and some fruit. Enjoy those amazing Christmas cookies that Grandma baked, but in moderation–have two cookies instead of 12!
Limit excessive drinking and enjoy one egg nog instead of the entire punch bowl. Drink plenty of water, preferably 60-80 ounces a day, include sliced lemons for extra benefit of detoxing your body naturally. Limit your intake of caffeine, and instead enjoy the health benefits of green tea. Green tea is very low in caffeine and boosts metabolism and is loaded with antioxidants for optimal health.
Individuals who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder could benefit from taking vitamin D3, L-theanine, 5HTP, B vitamins, and/or a multivitamin. Taking echinacea and vitamin C can help fight off colds and flus. (As with any supplement, talk to a nutritionist or health care provider–the above listed are not medical disclaimers). Take the time to research for yourself the benefits of good, quality vitamins/supplements to increase your health.
Brisk walking 3-4 times a week can lower stress, anxiety and depression. Aerobic type of exercise like running is great for your cardiovascular health and any type of exercise can ward off colds and flus. Exercise has been known as a natural “antidepressant.” Feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for happiness, pleasure and well-being are released during exercise.
Many people enjoy a nice, warm bath during the cold months, but did you know there are health benefits to soaking in a warm bath? Soaking in a warm bath for at least 20 minutes, 2-3 times per week in Epson salt can improve heart and circulatory health, improve the ability for the body to use insulin, flush-out toxins in the body, ease muscle and joint pain, improve nerve function by electrolyte regulation, relieve stress, improve absorption of nutrients, and prevention or easing of migraine headaches.
The key is to make your bath as warm as possible, add a generous amount of Epson salt (I like to use lavender oil to increase relaxation), and soak all the way up to your neck for at least 20 minutes. For added stress-relief light some scented candles and play relaxing music. Close your eyes (but don’t fall asleep!), lay back on your bath pillow, and take deep cleansing breathes-and soak.
Soaking in God’s presence:
Not only soaking in a warm bath can improve your health, but soaking in the presence of God provides replenishment to our hearts and to our lives. Soaking worship has natural benefits, as we physically and mentally relax in God’s presence it can relieve us from stress, pressure and anxiety. Soaking in the Spirit quiets our minds and brings us to stillness to hear God more clearly. You can soak in the presence of God many ways, but I like to listen to worship music in a quiet room and still my mind and body. I keep a journal beside me as to record what the Lord may want to speak during our time. I try not to put a time limit on my soaking time, unless I absolutely have to. I soak in God’s presence until I feel the release.
Soaking can be particularly helpful during seasons when we are weary, dry spiritually, or need to hear from God. Don’t use this time for Bible reading or devotionals. Just sitting and resting at the feet of Jesus and worshiping, being still before the Father. The first 10 minutes will be the hardest to get your mind and body still, but stillness is where you will be able to hear God like no other time. It usually takes me about 15 minutes before I can truly enter God’s rest, don’t give up if you are restless the first few minutes of soaking. Many times I have fallen into a deep sleep during my soaking time with God, and that is okay. Like me, you may find when you awaken, God has given you visions and scriptures.
Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep nightly can increase your immune system. Take frequent naps as you can (no longer than 20 minutes as any longer will disrupt your sleeping during the night). Your body may need a few more naps in the winter months as your body is fighting hard against resisting colds, flus, viruses, and keeping up with all the extra loads of holiday fun and cheer! Try and go to bed and get up at the same time every day, maybe sleep in for 30-60 minutes extra on your day off!
- Keep the stress away! Laugh more.
Stress has been known to lower our immunity, and cause anxiousness and depression. Everyday do something that you enjoy and take the time to laugh on purpose. Laughter has been shown to increase our immunity and lower levels of stress. Get a good comedy and laugh away your stress!
Staying healthy during the winter months is a holistic approach, caring not just for our bodies but our spirits as well. Take the time to invest in the temple that God has given you, and you will reap great benefits.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
What will you do this holiday season to reduce your stress and stay healthy?