When seasons change, it's important to tune in to your body's needs. In winter, seasonal change can leave you feeling less motivated and wanting to sleep more. Temperatures are likely dropping, with fewer hours of daylight, which can definitely put your body out of whack. No, it's not just you, and, no, you're not lazy. Science has confirmed the influence of seasonal changes on your health.
Here are some tips on how to adjust your wellness routine when winter arrives.
1. Put Yourself on a Healthy Sleep Cycle
As nightfall comes earlier and earlier and mornings feel darker each day, your body's internal clock can have a hard time adjusting. When you're exposed to fewer hours of sunlight during shorter winter days, your body produces more melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep/wake cycle. It's especially important to maintain a healthy sleep cycle during the colder months. Try to wake up at the same time every day so your sleep pattern is regulated, which will help with mood, immune function, and fatigue. It may feel natural for you to sleep an extra hour during the winter months, and that's OK!
2. Eat Seasonal Foods
There are major benefits to eating in season and focusing on locally harvested fruits and vegetables. Foods that are grown out of season are unable to ripen naturally—generally, they're harvested too early and quickly lose their nutrients. Vegetables have been shown to lose two-thirds of their vitamin C in just one week! Eating as seasonally—and locally—as possible will ensure that your body gets as many vitamins and minerals as possible.
3. Consider Modifying Your Workouts for Your Mental Health
Movement is key to keeping stress and depression at bay, but it may be time to modify how you train. For instance, HIIT exercises release the hormone cortisol, which controls how the body responds to stressors. If you are in a seasonally depressed or anxious state, it may be worth adding a workout like yoga or Pilates to your routine, something that is restorative rather than boundary pushing.
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4. Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of water! In the summer months, the heat reminds you to stay hydrated, but in fall and winter, you may not feel as thirsty and may forget to drink as much water as you used to. If you get bored drinking water all day, mix in powered branched-chain amino acids for some taste and muscle-building support.*
5. Make Sure You Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine vitamin" because it is produced in the body in response to the absorption of UVB rays from the sun. When the cooler months roll around, people spend less time in the sun and vitamin D levels drop. Low vitamin D is linked to seasonal affective disorder as well as bone and muscle loss. What can you do? Besides taking a supplement (talk with your doctor about what is right for you), you can adjust your diet to prioritize vitamin D. Mushrooms, eggs, and fatty fish are just a few of the D-rich foods to consider adding to your shopping cart.
6. Exercise Regularly
It's important to maintain a healthy exercise routine during seasonal shifts, even though you may be feeling less motivated. If that's the case and the cold weather and early night onset are keeping you from leaving the house, try shifting to at-home workouts such as those found in BodyFit. Another way to get in your daily exercise is to walk instead of drive. Traveling on foot (when it's practical to do so) will expose you to sunlight and fresh air, in addition to providing good exercise. What's more, exercise helps regulate mood and can help with your sleep schedule.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.