How to take care of yourself during winter
I have to be honest. Until recently the thought of winter self care tips was not even in my pretty little head. I lived in the sub-tropics of Florida and the winter season meant gorgeous, sunny weather and zillions of people as seasonal residents.
So, I really didn’t need to focus on how to take care of myself during those cold, dreary winter months. Driving defensively and enduring long, long waits at stores and restaurants? Yes, but that’s a story for another time.
Now I’m back in the Midwest and although being with family is a priceless privilege, the weather is, um, cold, dark, stark, and fails to beckon me outdoors. Ever.
Our natural reaction to the change in weather, less daylight, and less sunshine might be to stay in and “hibernate” until the crocus blooms. But as women in midlife, if we truly let ourselves indulge in that level of inactivity, things would happen. Things we would not like.
It takes work, effort, commitment and persistence to maintain a healthy, fit body in our 50’s, 60’s and beyond. My winter self care tips will always include the call to work out, somehow, and keep our bodies moving.
We also need to keep our minds motivated and sharp, to maintain that balance with mind, body, and inner self. If those are out of kilter, everything we do will feel a bit off. So whatever is going on outside our window, there are some actions and behaviors we can’t set aside.
We’ll talk about that more in a minute, but suffice to say that hibernation under a cozy blanket, watching movies and eating popcorn, is not a healthy solution to surviving the winter months.
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“The challenge is not to be perfect – it is to be whole.”— Jane Fonda
10 Winter Self Care Tips
1 | Experience the sunshine if you can
In my world, the sun doesn’t literally shine every day. It’s there somewhere, behind the clouds, but we don’t get to see it or feel the warmth that often.
Even so, taking a little bit of time to actually experience the winter sunshine is good for us:
- It provides us with 90% of our Vitamin D, which helps protect against disease and slows the aging process. Just 10 minutes, girlfriend, not an afternoon nap.
- The sun can also provide antidepressant effects, and for those of us who almost have to hibernate in the winter months, that’s huge.
- Heading outside in the morning hours will help shut off the body’s melatonin production (the hormone that makes you drowsy at night). When it becomes dark outside your body clock will recognize that it’s time to produce the melatonin again.
If you are able to soak up a few winter rays, be sure to protect your face and body with proper UV protection.
If stepping out into the sun is not an option for you, try using a sunlight lamp to give you a similar feeling and effect.
I bought one last winter and it was very helpful for me during the bitter cold stretches that kept me indoors.
Here are some examples. I have the Verilux Happy Light lamp shown below:
2 | Get out of the house regularly
We might feel like staying inside in our jammies when it’s cold and dreary outside, but how much better we’ll feel if we get dressed and run some errands, visit a relative, or have coffee with a friend.
I work from home so I have the tendency to stay home and keep working when the weather isn’t to my liking. But I try to practice what I preach, which is moderation in all things, including how I take care of myself during the winter months.
So I plan my family visits and errands, appointments and social times, at regular intervals throughout the week.
Do I love putting on the layers, the coat, the winter boots, the gloves, and all that stuff? No. But it’s a means to an end, so I do what I have to do in order to stay connected with my world.
“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”— Dolly Parton
3 | Maintain skin hydration with good quality moisturizers
You’ve noticed, I’m sure, how your skin has changed as you’ve aged. It’s a natural occurrence but even so, we need to provide even more self care during the winter months when our skin tends to become very dry.
And it’s not a “one product fits all” situation as women over 50.
Nope. We need to treat the skin on our face, under our eyes, our neck, very carefully, and that usually means applying a product made for a particular area.
I’ve found success with City Beauty products, as they’re formulated for mature skin like ours, and the cruelty-free aspect is always high on my list.
Our bodies need to be extra-moisturized, too, when it’s cold outside and the heat is on inside. This was something new for me, having lived in a warm, humid climate for 13 years.
Now, my skin gets very dry and sometimes itchy in the wintertime, so slathering on a body lotion such an Aveeno product is a must-do for me and high on the list of winter self care tips.
4 | Keep the exercise routine going
I LOVE to walk outside. There’s nothing like a brisk walk with the breeze blowing gently, the smell of newly mown grass, birds chirping and the sun shining down on me.
But then winter comes and I’m not up for an outdoor walk when it’s less than 50 degrees outside. Well, it’s really 60 degrees but then I sound like such a wimp.
So I walk indoors. A lot. I walk, march in place, do some gentle jogging around and through the rooms in my home. It might look a little bit weird but it works.
I change up the routine but still get the aerobic exercise in because I know that if I don’t my middle-aged body will “bloom” in ways I don’t want it to bloom!
How about you? What exercise adjustment do you make when the weather doesn’t allow for the outdoor activity?
You could consider joining an exercise facility for a few months or take some dance classes. How about an indoor swimming facility? Maybe you’ll decide to invest in some or your own indoor workout equipment. There are always options, girlfriend, so make sure you get up off the sofa and move!
Revive Your Mind, Nourish Your Body, Refresh Your Spirit…FRESH START CHALLENGE
5 | Change up the warm weather activities
When the outside temperature means our activities like golf, bike riding, swimming, tennis, pickleball, and others have to come to an end, it is not an indication that we should stop healthy exercise and sports until the weather warms up again.
I’ve already shared how my cold-weather walking routine changes. I also have a stationary bike, and although it’s not the same as riding outside in the fresh air, it is an activity that helps keep me strong and fit.
Our changing routines coupled with the temptation to indulge in more winter-related comfort foods can wreak havoc on our health, and our weight, as women in midlife.
So it takes a concerted effort to maintain a level of physical activity that includes aerobic exercise. And, depending on the climate where you live, the limit to outdoor activities could be quite small or include a number of months.
My point? Think about it. Plan for it. Adjust your daily routine to include the winter self care tips that are best for YOU. Self-care should always be high on our list.
6 | Learn something new
What better time to learn a new skill, try a different technique, attend a lecture, concert, event (indoors, of course!) or other activity that can get pushed to the bottom of the list when we’re spending more time outdoors.
Our brains may be a half-century old, but we still have such a capacity to learn, develop, and grow as women. Use the time when you’re forced to stay indoors to expand your horizons and knowledge.
Many women are avid readers, and that’s wonderful. There is so much we can gain from reading and absorbing information. It’s entertaining, and can also be a healthy escape from life’s everyday stresses.
Just remember to maintain balance in your life. When the snowflakes are falling, the fireplace is on, and you’re wrapped in a cozy blanket, it’s tempting to stay there for hours and finish the latest novel. And that’s great if done in moderation.
Your body wants and needs physical movement and activity, too. Commit to yourself that you’ll limit the couch time and spend an equal amount of time walking (go shopping for an hour!), exercising…any activity that gets you up and about for a while.
“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”— Charles Bukwoski
7 | Listen to your body
Our bodies give us cues when something is amiss or out of balance. We can choose to listen to those cues or we can ignore them and “make them go away”. When it comes to feeling less than 100% I tend to be in the “ignore them” club, and because I’ve been fortunate to be quite healthy all my life, I can usually get away with it unless the problem persists, and then I’ll go to the doctor.
We’re more apt to catch the current version of the cold and flu that descends upon us during the winter months, so pay attention to how you feel and get help if needed.
And, our body gives us cues about more than illness. If I sit in one position too long, my body will tell me that it’s time to get up and stretch, walk around, and otherwise engage in some type of activity.
If we spend a lot of time in front of a computer, tablet, iPad or cellphone screen the strain on our eyes, as well as the position of our neck and posture, is affected.
Remember those long, cozy afternoons spent in front of the fire reading? Listen to the cues your body is sending you and respond when it’s time to put the book down and get up. Just sayin’
Our metabolism slows as we age, and it requires a conscious effort on our part to maintain a lifestyle that helps keep it moving along.
Sometimes, taking the time to sit quietly, relax, and feed our mind and heart will do wonders for our body, too.
This is a quick read, perfect for relaxing and spending a few quiet moments during the day.
8 | Have a good soak
A warm bath can relax as well as help warm us up after a busy, cold winter day.
A recent study revealed some of the cold weather triggers that can result in increased anxiety . We might worry about increased heating bills, our home’s temperature not being comfortable, a lack of motivation due to a home that’s overly hot or cold, and more.
So go ahead and have that nice warm soak in the tub, girlfriend. Relax, let the stress of the day go and feel nice and warm, even if for a short time.
It could be a vital winter self care tip for you!
9 | Eat foods that store sunlight
Actually, they’re called biophotons, which are the smallest physical units of light and are stored in, and used by, all biological organisms. Sun energy finds its way into your cells via the food you eat, so in general, the more sunlight a food is able to store, the more nutritious it is.
So we really want to pay attention to these foods all year ’round, don’t we? The foods richest in biophotons are raw, fresh, wild and /or ecological fruits and vegetables.
Here’s a ‘high to low’ list of biophoton content in foods:
- Nuts and seeds
- Green leaves
- Roots, bulbs and tubers
- Milk and milk products
- Meat and fish
Very interesting information. You can read more about this by clicking on the link above. For me, this tells me that snacking on fruits and nuts, and making sure to eat my green veggies should always be high on the priority list of foods to consume.
10 | Visualize your warm, happy place
When I’m feeling a little down because it is freezing outside and the sky is gray and gloomy, I take a few minutes to imagine that I’m walking on Fort Myers Beach with the love of my life. We did that quite often and never tired of it.
Even though I moved from the area about a year ago, and my love has been gone for 4 years, I can still hear the waves rolling in, feel the sand under my bare feet, and see my man walking by my side.
There are definitely some bittersweet feelings in there for me, but I still go there in my mind when I need to feel warm, safe, and happy.
Then it’s back to my real world, which is (except for the cold and snow) and wonderful place to be.
How about you? What do you visualize when it’s time to de-stress, practice some self-care or just let yourself dream for a little while?
“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.”— Brené Brown
How to take care of yourself during winter
Cold weather is a fact of life for many of us, and whether you enjoy the season or not, there are some actions we can take to make sure that our bodies, minds, and spirits are nourished and cared for.
How are you going to handle your tough times in the cold-weather season? Hopefully, these winter self care tips will keep you on a healthy path!