Breyanna Grays, MD
Winter Wellness Tips
Maintaining wellness during the winter months can be difficult, especially if you live in an area with colder temperatures. However, there are practical things that you can consider in your wellness journey this year.
A main part of wellness is proper nutrition. During the colder winter months, it is easy to turn to comfort foods that are lacking in key nutrients. In addition, lack of sunlight can often contribute to vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency has been studied extensively in the development of various diseases. Most recently, vitamin D supplementation has been shown to have a positive correlation with the prevention of various autoimmune diseases.
Mental health is of critical importance in maintaining overall wellness. Along with everyday stressors, the “winter blues” can occur, affecting your career, family and personal plans. A more severe mood disorder known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can lead to severe mental health symptoms. Seasonal affective disorder is a condition that primarily occurs in the fall to winter months and is associated with depressed mood and hypersomnia (oversleeping). Therapies include sunlight, light box therapy and psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Throughout the winter, there are several indoor and outdoor activities that you can consider to maintain wellness. Check with your physician before starting an exercise program. Walking on an indoor track or stationary bike are great cardiovascular exercises. Dynamic stretching (stretching with movement) prior to exercising is key to prevent injuries. Weight based activities may also be helpful and has been shown to help preserve muscle mass long term.
Maintaining wellness during the winter months can be challenging; however, implementing nutrition and mental health habits can help with meeting your wellness goals. Talk with your physician about vitamin D deficiency screening and screening for seasonal affective disorder, as treatment for both can help with your overall well-being.
Hahn J, Cook N R, Alexander E K, Friedman S, Walter J, Bubes V et al. Vitamin D and marine omega 3 fatty acid supplementation and incident autoimmune disease: VITAL randomized controlled trial BMJ 2022; 376 :e066452 doi:10.1136/bmj-2021-066452
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