Winter in the Northern Hemisphere has the tendency to slow life down. With the season’s colder weather and shorter periods of sunlight, people bundle up in cozy attire while reducing their physical activity and time spent outdoors. Winter is also a season infamous for the spread of respiratory infections and depressive conditions like seasonal affective disorder. If you are going through addiction treatment or are in recovery, finding ways to stay healthy this winter will be critical to enhancing your physical and mental wellness.
The Vitamin You May Be Deficient In
Vitamin D is a critical supporting nutrient for preventing disease and infection. In the U.S., it is estimated that around 35% of adults have a deficiency in this vitamin, and even more may be on the borderline for vitamin D insufficiency. In order for the body to synthesize sufficient vitamin D, approximately 40% of the skin needs to be exposed to sunlight for about twenty minutes every day.
This is a level of exposure that many do not receive nowadays, especially during the winter months. Vitamin D deficiency is traditionally associated with Rickets and osteoporosis; however, a growing body of research supports vitamin D deficiency as a cause for numerous other health complications:
- Type-2 diabetes
- Autoimmune diseases
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Neurodegenerative diseases
Supplementing your diet with vitamin D has been found to be associated with significantly reduced mortality. Zinc and magnesium are other immune-supporting nutrients that people tend to be deficient in.
Winter Is a Time to Move Your Body
Sitting on the couch and watching television is a common pastime in American culture. However, television consumes more of people’s attention during the winter than any other season, fostering inactivity and lost time. This is exactly why winter is a prime time to get your breath and body flowing. In colder regions like the Pacific Northwest and New England, there are many things you can participate in:
- Ice skate
- Go sledding
- Build a snowman
- Volunteer at a local food pantry
- Host campfires with friends and family
- Go camping and practice survival skills
- Offer snow shoveling services to neighbors
If you live in Southern California, you are fortunate to be exposed to mild temperatures relative to northern areas. You can spend time outdoors strolling through Balboa Park, exploring the Laguna Beach tidal pools, or hiking through Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. January through April is also a great time to see marine mammals like gray whales at high peaks off Laguna Coast.
Get Warm and Cozy With Winter Traditions
Admittedly, winter can be intolerable at times due to cold weather, wind chills, and storms. There are endless possibilities for things you can do on days when you have to stay indoors. Instead of watching television, consider starting your own winter traditions that’ll help pass time and make the best of it.
Home remedies to support your immune system. Echinacea and elderberry are two medicinal herbs that have been used for centuries to prevent and treat colds and other illnesses. One clinical trial found “a combination of echinacea herb and root extract supplemented with elderberry can be as effective as the conventional antiviral medicine oseltamivir for the early treatment of influenza.”
Common mullein is another ancient medicinal plant that has been used to treat pulmonary problems, spasmodic coughs, inflammatory diseases, diarrhea, asthma, migraine headaches, and even tuberculosis. This herb is gaining popularity and scientists are increasingly investigating its potential. Mullein leaf extracts have also been shown to have antitumor, antiviral, antifungal properties in laboratory studies.
Treat yourself occasionally with tasty recipes. Because so much time is spent indoors, why not get crafty in the kitchen and test out new recipes? Perhaps nothing is as emblematic of winter as hot chocolate with marshmallows. Homemade hot chocolate is not only satisfying, but it can be healthy too. The main ingredient, cacao, is filled with antioxidants and is an excellent source of minerals critical for immune and overall wellness, such as iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.
Don’t forget to exercise your mind. Physical activity is paramount but mental work is just as important. Instead of succumbing to mind-numbing scrolling on social media, play strategy games like chess or come up with your own contest of wits. This will you keep your mind sharp and intentional, thwarting under-stimulation and mental boredom, which are triggers for relapse.
Make Your Health Your Priority
Winter can be a challenging time of year for Americans all over the country. Shorter days and bad weather may cause you to hole up in your room and binge-watch Netflix. This is a particularly precarious situation for individuals in treatment and recovery, as inactivity and isolation can lead to boredom and depression. Mental instability could cause a person to fall back into drug and alcohol use. Get your mind and body in peak health this winter by consulting your doctor about your vitamin D levels, enjoying physical activities outdoors, and celebrating new winter traditions.
Winter can be a depressing and claustrophobic time of year for many people across the Northern Hemisphere. Colder days with less sun exposure mean that more time is spent indoors. For those in addiction treatment or recovery, finding ways to make the best of the winter season is critical to make it to spring without relapsing. Oceanfront Recovery is a licensed treatment center for substance use disorders. We also treat co-occurring disorders that tend to accompany addiction. Located in Laguna Beach, California, we provide a friendly and relaxed environment to get treatment and start your journey to recovery. Throughout the program, we help clients plan their next chapter, which includes learning how to embrace change and transformation and cope with the lows that are bound to occur in recovery. Staying mentally and physically fit is vital for managing life’s many challenges. To learn more about treatment and recovery during the winter months, call (877) 279-1777.