Wow, I feel like the plague has hit Hudson, WI! It seems like everyone is coming in with some kind of bug lately and after they get over their bug half of them end up with lingering sinus issues and end up feeling miserable for weeks! If this doesn’t sound like you, then HALLELUJAH and can we talk about prevention?
I don’t know if it was the invention of electric lights or if it has to do with modern advances in heating and cooling but somewhere along the way we have lost one of the most basic rules in health and wellness: Live in harmony with your environment. This means a few different things: dress for the weather, eat seasonally and locally, live for the season, and last but certainly not least, follow the sun! The following guidelines all have their basis in this one fundamental rule. Our bodies are adapting machines to say the least, they spend 100% of their time adapting. So why not give our bodies the break they deserve and help them out? Your body will thank you by keeping you upright and thriving!
1. SLEEP MORE
This little winter time hint comes from following the sun. Winter is a dormant time; our bodies like to hunker down and rest. Like the sun your body naturally wants to go to bed earlier, wake up later and sleep longer hours than in the summer time. In our fast-paced modern lifestyles, we do not listen to this need and we become very run down to say the least. Your body does most of its healing while you are at rest and sleeping so be kind and give it the time it needs to keep you tip top!
Pro tip: set a sleep schedule and stick to it. We are creatures of habit in mind and in body, your sleep quality will improve when you get on a schedule!
Winter is as much a time for rest as it is for reflection. Both slow you down and conserve your energy. Meditation doesn’t just conserve energy but it always regenerates energy! Take 15 minutes out of each day to do some deep breathing and quiet your mind by focusing on your breath. If you can’t sit still for more than 2 minutes at a time, then break up your meditations throughout the day.
Pro tip: If you are having a hard time quieting the internal chatter and need a little more help, YouTube has a treasure trove of guided meditation videos. Try a few out and see what works best for you!
3. KEEP YOUR BODY WARM
In other words, dress for the weather. We live in Wisconsin people, it gets cold! Where are your hat and gloves or, at the very least, your coat? Our bodies have many little processes and chemical reactions to keep us ticking. These processes have an optimal temperature at which they perform their best. There is another whole set of processes that work to keep our bodies at the right temperature. As it turns out, we are much better at cooling ourselves off then keeping ourselves warm. The cold weather is harsh on our bodies and can be hard to recover from. So again I ask you, be kind to your body and keep it warm in the first place so it doesn’t have to work so hard.
Pro tip: I can’t believe I have to say this, you all grew up hearing it from your grandmothers…don’t go outside in freezing weather with wet hair. Come one you guys…use common sense! As if frozen hair on your head (the part of the body that loses heat the fastest) isn’t bad enough; hot showers open the pours and leave us susceptible in the winter. Try to get that shower in an hour or two before you head outside or if you can’t do that try showering before bed (this could also help your new schedule of sleeping in!)
4. EAT FOR THE SEASON, COOK YOUR FOODS LOW AND SLOW
You will want to choose foods that are in season such as root vegetables, dark leafy greens, winter squash and citrus fruits. Try to eat a variety of in season produce with clean proteins and healthy fats. This however is not enough. Many people have finicky digestion especially during the winter. I think it is becoming more common because of the rise of smoothies and salads. Raw food is hard on us and our digestion especially in the winter season. Foods should be cooked at low heat for long periods of time. Think slow cooker stews, braised meats and greens, roasted vegetables, etc… Low and slow is the key! It will help warming foods maintain their warming nature while being digested. This is an offshoot of the rule to keep your body warm. We must keep it warm on the outside and the inside and some foods naturally have cooling capabilities, this effect is compounded if the food is eaten raw. So this winter, swap your morning smoothie for steel cut oats with cooked apples and pears or eggs your way with sautéed greens and swap your lunch time salad with a hearty soup.
Pro tip: make your soups and oats ahead of time, they freeze well. You can’t say that about salads!
I think this is an obvious one, we hear about how important physical exercise is all the time. Guess what, they weren’t kidding! When we stop moving, we hurt, especially when it is cold out. It’s tough when we are cooped up all winter long. No one wants to walk or jog in subzero temperatures and remember rule #3. Try a little bit of something every day to keep your joints warm and moving whether it be yoga, a group fitness class or lifting weights (all 3 of which can be done inside).
Pro tip: Are you on a rest day? Get down on the ground and stretch! Like I said keep those joints moving and warm and your whole body will stay flexible and pain free even in the frigid temperatures.
6. GET IN FOR PERIODIC ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENTS…
…even when you are feeling well and especially when you’re not. What? You didn’t think you would get through this list without an acupuncture tip, did you? Here’s the thing: health and wellness are all about balance and acupuncturists are really good at finding imbalance and correcting it. There it is in a nutshell, that is all we do, we correct imbalance. We do this when you aren’t feeling well and we do this when you are. Long term, these imbalances can have real physical symptoms, but short term you might not notice them at all. If you get in while you are feeling well for a preventative treatment, we can correct your short-term imbalances before they begin effecting you negatively.
Pro tip: while you are in, make sure to pick our brains about helpful hints and tips like these to keep you healthy in between treatments. We love a proactive patient and are all too happy to help!
There you have it, you are ready to face the second half of our brutal winter with happy lungs, clear sinuses and more energy! Call if you have any questions or need to make your winter wellness appointment. (715) 716-5909
With wishes of wellness and joy,
P.S. If all else fails, get somewhere warm and fast! We can reschedule your acupuncture appointment if you promise to have one of those fruity cocktails on the beach for me!
Barbara Wasson, DAc, is a Licensed and Board Certified Acupuncturist in Hudson, WI