Winter is a notoriously difficult time of year to stay healthy. Between the sun hardly ever peeking from behind the gray clouds and the frigid temperatures taking outdoor exercise off the menu for a few weeks — or, in Minnesota, months — it’s hard to know how to step up your health game during this time of year. Here are nine health hacks that anybody, no matter how busy, can work into their schedule and make winter a much more bearable season.
- Drink more water
You’ve probably heard this suggestion before, right? Drink more water. Not only do you need water, you’re basically made of it, and once you start drinking more water, the benefits will make you want it more. Water cleanses your system and replenishes the moisture you lose during the day. This is crucial during winter because when it’s cold, people are less likely to drink enough. Staying hydrated benefits your skin, hair, nails, joints, and energy levels. Throw a lemon in your water for added benefits, or some mint and strawberries so you can pretend it’s summer (just don’t look out your window). Shoot for 64 ounces a day. I know, it seems like a lot, but it’s not, so try.
- Maintain proper nutrition
You hear it all the time, but, really, nutrition is the best way to fight off the symptoms of winter. It’s so easy to hide in your apartment ordering pizza because it’s freezing outside and you’re busy, but swapping that pizza for some veggies and that wine for some lemon water is going to make winter seem less bleak. As an added bonus, the better your nutrition, the less likely you are to get sick. Eat veggies and avoid the sniffles. It’s a win-win.
- Get some exercise
There’s nothing more annoying than someone telling you to squeeze working out into your already impossibly busy schedule, but here I am, telling you to. Even 20 minutes a day walking, going for a quick run, or working out on the elliptical will do the job. Getting your body moving and your mind away from whatever stressors are bogging you down is going to make a major change to the winter blues. Exercise also boosts endorphins and blood flow, which makes you happier and more energized. Honestly, who couldn’t benefit from being happier and more energetic?
- Try some essential oils
Essential oils rock. Don’t be scammed into buying 20 little bottles of random oils by someone at your local co-op, and don’t get ripped off. You can find perfectly good natural essential oils at your local healthy grocery store and they shouldn’t be more than $10-15/bottle. If they are, ask some questions. Lemon oil in your water is great, but make sure you get the edible kind. I put lavender oil in an oil diffuser by my bed to help me sleep and in my lotion to help aid my dry skin during winter. Tea tree is great for oily skin, lavender is great for healing dry skin, and rosehip helps promote hair growth. Whatever issue you’re having with your hair, skin and nails can and will be solved by a little essential oil action.
- Moisturize your skin
Duh, right? Well, pretty much everybody, whether they know about it or not, struggles with dehydration during winter. It’s cold, so you’re less inclined to drink enough water, and your skin is constantly under-wraps, so you may not even notice how dry it is. MOISTURIZE and add in a little essential oil to boost the benefits, too.
- Warm up in a steam room
To get to the steam room, you’ll probably have to go to the gym, and while you’re there, you can squeeze in a quick workout, right? (See Tip #3!) Well, even if you don’t and you head straight for the spa, you’re still going to leave a healthier woman than you arrived. The steam room will help you relax, but also aids in mega-moisturizing. Bring your favorite moisturizer and conditioner, lather your face and hair in them, and kick back and let the steam do the work as your winter dryness fades fast!
- Use sheet masks
If you live somewhere warm, none of this probably matters to you and I don’t want to hear about your winter woes. If you’re like me and are from the midwest or east coast, let’s talk. Everyone’s skin struggles during winter. Between circulated air in our apartments and the insane cold wind outside, winter is skin struggle season. To battle this seemingly unavoidable dehydration, try a sheet mask. They are a blessing to us all. Try one. I use TonyMoly, and you can get them on Amazon. They have a million different masks, all aiding specific skin issues. I get the lemon mask to brighten my skin and the avocado and aloe masks to moisturize!
- Get your vitamins
Again, if you live in California and are sun-kissed year-round, this is not information you’ll need. But, if winter is upon you and rays of sunshine are hard to come-by, then you’re probably (definitely) vitamin deficient. Taking a Vitamin D and Vitamin C supplement will replenish what you’re missing from your lack of sun, and ward off sleepiness and that extra-sluggish feeling. Making sure you’re getting enough iron and calcium will also help!
- Catch up on sleep
I know, this one is oddly the hardest. We’re exhausted but can’t sleep. We sleep at the wrong times. We don’t sleep well. Force yourself onto a sleep schedule with however many hours a night you need (honestly, not everyone needs 8, and some people want more!). Winter is a notoriously tricky time for sleep schedules, as the sun rises later and sets so much earlier. You get home from work at 6 and you could swear it’s midnight. Avoid awkwardly-timed naps, and turn off your phone (or, let’s be realistic, just put it on Do Not Disturb) and shut your laptop when you’re trying to sleep. Nobody actually falls asleep to that 4th episode, right? A normalized sleep schedule will benefit your mental and physical health and will also make you feel like a certified grown up.