We have now entered the toughest part of the year. The dead of winter.
For much of the country, the temps have plummeted and snow and ice are inevitable.
Whether or not you love the cold temperatures, this time of year can really take a toll on your body.
Not only are the gray days without sunshine enough to put you in a slump, the cold air can really wreak havoc on your skin and even cause flare-ups with some other conditions.
If you are one of millions spending this winter in freezing weather, we want you to be proactive before the season hits its stride.
Be sure to avoid these habits so you can have a happier and healthier winter.
13 Habits That Make You Miserable Every Winter
Exercise is a potent stress-reducer and research suggests that it may even help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. But even the most devoted runner or gym-goer can lose motivation when the days get short, cold, and gray, and lose the mental health boost along with it.
It's so easy to talk yourself out of it. So how can you keep up with the recommended 30 minutes of activity, several days per week?
We suggest scheduling exercise, as you would for a salon or doctor appointment, and sticking to it with the help of an accountability partner (friends or family). Yoga can also ease your mind and get your body moving in a low-key group setting.
Whatever gets you moving and your heart rate up is going to benefit you this winter. Just be careful with outside activities as shoveling heavy snow or trudging through the deep snow for an extended period of time can cause excess stress on your heart leading to other health problems.
STAYING COOPED UP INSIDE
Not much beats Netflix and a warm blanket on a chilly day, but holing up indoors can have consequences.
In the winter, a lot of people do start to feel depressed. Getting outside in the cold weather helps people feel better. Daylight is ideal, as sunshine boosts mood and levels of depression-fighting vitamin D, but some studies suggest that even going outside in the dark can shift your negative outlook.
Your best bet: Don't get out of the habit of spending time outside as summer fades into fall and winter. If you start before it gets too cold, your body sort of adjusts gradually to that temperature and it makes it easier on you.
Take your dog for a short walk, park a little further from the door when you go shopping, build a snowman with your kids or grandkids, etc. Getting a breath of that fresh, cool air can wake you up and keep you feeling refreshed.
Staying cooped up inside also leaves you susceptible to more colds and flus. When everyone is sharing their germs in such warm, tight quarters, it's pretty much a given that someone will come down with a nasty cold or flu and then be generous enough to spread it to the whole family.
Make sure this doesn't happen to your family. Get yourself, kids, and/or grandkids out for some fresh air and then come inside for a cup of hot WuLong tea to keep everyone's immune systems strong all season long.
It's one thing to cancel dinner plans when the roads are slick; it's another to stay cooped up alone by default.
People are usually isolated because they're feeling down in the dumps anyway, and they don't want to be the low light in the group. But, research shows that socializing makes you happier—group memberships ward off depression, and social interactions are part of what makes exercise so uplifting. If solo jogging is your thing, try running with a group once a week.
Or, find an activity that both you and a friend enjoy, whether it's woodworking class or indie movies, and make time for it together at least once per month.
With the longer nights, it's easy to want to cuddle up in bed earlier than usual and sleep longer in the mornings.
A healthy routine relies on sleep no matter the time of year; experts recommend 7 to 8 hours a night. However, curling up in your cozy bed for marathon sleep sessions can do you more harm than good.
Excessive sleep raises risk for depression, according to a 2014 study published in the journal Sleep. What's more, additional research has linked sleeping more than 8 hours a night to a higher risk of stroke, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes.
OVERINDULGING IN COMFORT FOODS
Food can definitely be a comfort to us, making us feel warm and fuzzy inside.
While diving into starchy, creamy casseroles can make winter feel a little less bleak, too much can leave you feeling sluggish.
Your body treats refined carbohydrates—like highly processed grains—as if they're sugars, quickly digesting and absorbing them. Your blood sugar will spike, followed by an energy crash when your body secretes insulin to process that excess glucose.
Try replacing fatigue-causing carbs with healthier alternatives, such as whole wheat pasta or spaghetti squash, which has far more protein and fiber than its refined, white counterpart. And you can still have those warming dishes, like soups and stews filled with low-calorie, highly nutritious veggies.
DRINKING TOO MUCH
What would a holiday party be without a mug of spiked cider? Or a cup of eggnog? Or a glass of wine? Or a flute of champagne?
A runny nose, sore throat and body aches (or worse) are sure to leave you feeling miserable, so add alcohol moderation to your cold-and-flu prevention checklist, right along with washing your hands and getting enough sleep.
TAKING LONG, HOT SHOWERS
On chilly mornings and sub-zero nights, there's a temptation to indulge in long, steamy showers—warming up can feel next to impossible otherwise.
Despite the immediate satisfaction, however, super-hot water can dry out and damage your skin, leaving you itchy, scaly, and uncomfortable.
Stick with lukewarm water instead and when you get out of the shower, pat gently with a towel before applying moisturizer while your skin is still damp. This ensures that water won't evaporate from your skin and take moisture with it.
CRANKING UP THE HEAT
At some point this winter, you'll likely be exposed to an overheated space, whether it's your drafty house, older apartment, or office.
Cranked-up heat can feel really good, but this artificial source of warmth comes with repercussions. Anytime you put the heat on, it dries out the air and that helps to suck moisture out of your skin.
Your nasal passages and throat can also become parched. While there's no one-size-fits-all temperature, we suggest paying attention to your skin. If it gets dry and cracked, try lowering the heat.
Investing in a humidifier during the dry, winter months will help add some moisture in the air, help you sleep better and keep that "stuffy" feeling away.
NOT DRINKING ENOUGH WATER
'Tis the season for eggnog, cider and mulled wine, but don't forget the water.
Yes, hydration matters just as much in the wintertime—and you probably won't realize it when your body is crying out for sip.
A 2004 study from the University of New Hampshire found that exposure to the cold made people feel 40% less thirsty than they would otherwise, both at rest and during a moderate workout.
The reason? Your body is more concerned with staying warm than conserving water. In addition to sipping water, try snacking on water-rich winter fruits, like grapefruits and oranges, and sip on Oolong tea all day.
Oolong tea not only hydrates your body, but it boosts your immune system, revs up your metabolism, provides your body with much needed antioxidants to fight free radicals, strengthens teeth and bones, reverses aging, fights acne, lowers cholesterol, regulates insulin spikes, and just tastes amazing on a cold winter's day.
WEARING THE WRONG SHOES
Hidden patches of ice, slippery steps, deep puddles covered in slush—there are all too many ways in which winter weather can mess with our coordination.
According to National Safety Council statistics, slips and falls cause 300,000 injuries per year. WOW!
No one wants to be on crutches all winter and while you can't eliminate the risk of falling, your footwear can strongly affect your chances of hitting the pavement.
Rubber soles are considered best for preventing accidents in wet, icy conditions.
SKIMPING ON FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Yes, winter produce is a little lackluster compared to summer, but that's no excuse to spend the colder months loading up on simple carbs and fat.
A fruit and veggie-heavy diet helps control your weight, keeps you feeling energized, and protects against wintertime ailments like the common cold and flu.
When you get bored with seasonal picks like Brussels sprouts and butternut squash, mix things up with frozen or canned options, which can be just as nutritious, according to 2007 University of California, Davis research.
Adding frozen berries to cereal and salads, and mixing cooked seasonal fruits and vegetables—like sweet potatoes with apples keeps things interesting as winter wears on.
EATING TOO MUCH SUGAR
You're assaulted by sugar from Halloween through Valentine's Day, and the temptation to snack on leftover pie can be tough to resist—sugar woos your brain's pleasure center, according to 2013 research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, setting you up for compulsive eating, and the same blood sugar surge and energy dive that come with starchy comfort foods.
Holiday treats also tend to be high in hard-to-digest fat, a perfect recipe for fatigue and weight gain, says Miriam Pappo, RD, director of clinical nutrition at Montefiore Medical Center in TK CITY.
Knowing yourself and being prepared with a bag of tricks—a piece of fruit, a mini chocolate bar—can help. "Give yourself permission to have one a day, at the time you crave it most," says Pappo.
NOT DRINKING OOLONG TEA
Gone are your cravings, your lack of energy and poor immune system. Oolong (WuLong) has been used for hundreds of years by the Chinese for health and wellness.
Our Oolong tea is grown high in the WuYi mountains in the world renowned tea capital of China. Grown with absolutely NO pesticides, NO artificial colors/flavors, NO GMOs, NO fillers and NO corn/soy.
You can't get any purer than our 100% Premium Oolong tea! Give your body the boost it needs this season to stay healthy, warm, burn extra calories, lower cholesterol, regulate your insulin spikes, and keep your memory sharp!
Other grocery store teas pale in comparison when it comes to Oolong tea. Do your research before picking up that cheap box of tea during your next shopping trip. You may be getting more than you bargained for - in a bad way.
Hopefully this list will help get you through the toughest part of the year - the cold winter. Before you know it, spring will be just around the corner and you'll be spending more time outdoors with your family and friends or just doing more yard work. :)
What are some ways you make the most of the cold weather? Let me know in the comments below!
Yours in Health & Happiness,
P.S. Pick up your box of Wu-Long tea and get going on a great habit for this winter and all year long!!