Coping With Seasonal Changes
Our bodies change with the seasons. You may notice your skin gets drier, or your hair grows darker with less sun exposure.
Seasonal changes can also affect your immune system. The stress of changing weather conditions, juggling kids’ spring sports schedules and other events can lower your defenses against germs.
1. Get plenty of sleep
For many people, especially those in recovery, a shift in seasons can affect moods. Some feel a little blue as fall turns into winter, but others may be struggling with something more serious: seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
SAD is caused by lack of sunlight and can cause a variety of symptoms, including low energy, sleep problems, weight gain, depression, and irritability. To combat SAD, get plenty of rest each night. This means establishing a regular bedtime and sticking to it, even on the weekends, and prioritizing your sleep over other activities. Research shows that adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. A good quality sleep will boost your mood, reduce stress, and improve immune system function. Try to spend the bulk of your time in REM sleep.
2. Stay active
For many people, the cooler temperatures and darker days can make it more difficult to get in enough physical activity. To maintain good health, experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping activity each week.
It’s also a good idea to keep up with flexibility exercises such as stretching and yoga, which can help reduce stress and improve your mood. And, if you aren’t already using public transportation or walking to run errands in the warmer months, consider making it a winter habit.
Seasonal changes can be challenging for many people, especially those who have a mental illness like seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD occurs when less sunlight triggers a biochemical imbalance in the brain and leads to low energy and feelings of depression.
3. Eat healthy
As the seasons change, your diet should be a priority. Eating a balanced diet can help to keep your body in good condition and immune system strong. It is important to include a variety of foods from each food group as well as drink plenty of water.
It can be difficult to stay on track with your health goals during the fall and winter months. The shorter days can lead to less frequent exercise, which can make it easier to overindulge in unhealthy snacks and meals.
Try swapping your morning coffee for tea to cut down on caffeine. Tea has countless benefits and is a healthy alternative to coffee. Also, try to limit your alcohol intake. Drinking too much can cause dehydration and decrease your immunity.
4. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is essential, even during cold weather. Drinking water can prevent dehydration, which is a common cause of fatigue and headaches. It’s important to drink water throughout the day, especially before and after exercise. In addition, water-rich foods and beverages are a good choice, such as vegetables, fruit, soups, or decaffeinated unsweetened tea.
Thirst isn’t always the best indicator of dehydration, especially when you’re exercising in cooler weather or are not sweating as much. Aim for at least eight glasses of fluids daily, or about half your body weight in ounces.
Ranglani advises that you choose cooling foods and drinks during this time of year, such as cucumber, mint, basil seeds, betel leaf, coconut water, warm turmeric milk or household kadha. Avoid iced drinks that are high in sugar and calories.
5. Stay cool
Heat kills more people in the United States than any other weather hazard, and it’s only expected to get worse as global temperatures rise. To avoid the dangers of extreme heat, try to limit outdoor activity to the coolest parts of the day (like morning or evening), and be sure to take breaks in shade.
Choose cooling foods, like salads and fresh, raw vegetables. You can also eat icy treats, such as popsicles, frosted yogurt, or frozen fruit drinks. Drink water, but stay away from sugary drinks and caffeine, which can lead to dehydration.
If you can’t afford to use air conditioning, spend time in places with it, like libraries and malls. Menthol-containing products, such as mouthwash and cough drops, can also help you feel cooler.