Question: Besides dressing warmly, being careful on icy surfaces, and eating well, what advice do you have for getting through the winter?
Answer: Here are some handy suggestions from the Cleveland Clinic for avoiding winter health issues:
Let there be light!
The darkness that comes with shorter days can make some of us feel less than cheerful. Ten to 20 percent of the country’s population develops a mild form of the winter blues. Light therapy, spending time in front of a special lamp, is sometimes used to treat this form of depression. Taking Vitamin D and spending time outdoors, enjoying nature and the sunlight, can also help. A small percentage of Americans experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), with symptoms such as sadness, anxiety, fatigue, oversleeping, and loss of interest in once-enjoyable activities. These people can obtain assistance by reaching out to a health provider or therapist.
Take care of your skin
Showering too often can dry your skin, decreasing the oils that keep it healthy. Health experts recommend taking shorter showers (5 or 10 minutes long) or showering less often. Winter can take a toll on your hands, so pull on a pair of gloves when you go outside and use moisturizer frequently. Washing your hands and alcohol-based hand sanitizers, while effective in stopping the spread of colds, COVID, and flu, can also dry your skin.
Keep your lips sealed!
Protect your lips with a lip balm that contains petrolatum, essential oils, or glycerin to lock in moisture and heal cracks and splits. Choose a balm with sunscreen because winter sun reflected off snow can be surprisingly strong and easily burn the delicate skin on your lips. Resist the temptation to lick your lips as this actually dries them out even faster.
Winter air is dry because cold air holds less moisture than warm air. Moisture evaporates quickly inside our heated houses and leads to dry throats and sinuses, with abrasions that provide a pathway for unwelcome guests like germs and viruses. A humidifier can add moisture to your home, as can placing bowls of water around the rooms.
Allergy season isn’t over just because the frost has killed all the goldenrod. Indoors, dust mites, mold, and pet hair can keep us sniffling and sneezing. Using dust mite covers on your pillows, mattresses, and box springs in your bedroom can help solve this problem. You can reduce mold by cleaning your kitchen, bathroom, and basement with a bleach-based solution. This may be hard, but if you find you’re allergic to your pets, encourage them to sleep outside of your bedroom and stay in carpet-free areas of your house, spaces which are easier to clean.
Remember, even now the days are getting longer, so hang in there. Meanwhile, have a safe winter.