What Do You Do to Stay Healthy During Winter Months?

| 2/26/2010 10:05:49 AM

Woman in SnowA few weeks ago we asked if any of you suffer from the winter blues, and 55 percent agreed that, yes, the lack of daylight and effects of spending less time outside leave you feeling subpar. (You can find the full poll results below.) Even if you feel OK mentally and emotionally when it's dark and cold out — I love brisk, snowy days — it can be challenging to stay healthy physically this time of year. There are fewer whole foods in season (though you can help yourself out by drying and canning harvest surplus during your primary garden season), and it can be challenging to get outside and get moving as much as you might like.

To stay physically fit and happy this time of year I practice yoga more often. It can be done indoors and doesn't require a lot of space. Old-school calisthenics can be fun too (not to mention reminiscent of elementary school gym class). If it's not bitterly cold and the sidewalks are reasonably clear, I'll bundle up to trek the neighborhood hills, but those indoor exercises really help when venturing out of doors defies common sense. 

Food-wise, my freezer is loaded with veggies and fruit so they don't disappear from the table during the off-season. Protein and fats always seem most appealing in winter, so I make a point to buy organic meat and dairy and enjoy every delicious bite. I also include a daily vitamin D supplement, as the February sun in Kansas isn't sufficient for optimal D levels.

Somewhere deep in this Kansas heart lives a tidily bundled Eskimo who's never more at home than when the mercury drops into the 30s and lower, so my spirits don't need much bolstering this time of year — all that snow, gorgeous frost, and invigorating (sometimes bracing) winter winds. It makes my spirit glad. But everyone likes their comforts, and I've found that stocking a full cupboard and a variety of teas and keeping a stack of books on hand gives me the peace of mind that no matter what Old Man Winter brings, I can burrow in my home and when the storm clears, it will all come out just fine.

How do you stay physically healthy and keep your spirits lifted during the winter months?


tony deckard
12/20/2010 1:40:36 PM

I live in a mountain valley in WNC. Between gardening, to grow all my own food, butchering, composting, putting up critter feed and hay, and busting firewood by hand, I'm physically active year round. I usually get a break around the end of February for a few minutes, before starting early seeds.

3/13/2010 6:41:48 PM

I love winter!! I am a true New Englander (born and raised) and can't wait for the first flakes of the season to fly! I see winter as a time to slow down and appreciate all my hard work from the previous seasons. We eat from our pantry and freezer, then sit by the woodstove and sip tea while I scan new poultry and seed catalogs. We have the time to discuss the growth of our farm and what we want to try next. Don't get me wrong, I still spend time outside taking care of the chickens and running the dogs. I also look forward to snowshoeing and sledding. I enjoy being able to slow down. Experiencing the change in seasons makes me appreciate each one to its fullest. By the time March comes around and mud season begins, I am ready to see winter go (knowing I will get up early to check the weather on TV like a school kid waiting for a snow day off from school next winter).

Becka Schexnayder
3/2/2010 2:48:51 PM

What winter blues?? I wake up to get into my farm clothes and off to take care of the animals and do morning chores. One morning, when it snow, I was throwing snowballs for our dog to catch. I put up a lot of canned tomatoes and this winter was my first winter at making homemade tomatoe soup. Learn that I did not plant enough green beans and sweet peas last Spring. We heat with a woodstove and I get my exercise by loading and unloading logs, clean out the woodstove and walk dog. Durning the winter nights I crocheted two blankets, a rug for the kitchen, two baby blankets, and one baby outfit. Drank lots of green tea, and herb tea during the winter. My friend and I had dried several herbs to be use durning the winter months,and we visit second-hand stores to buy tight lid jars for the herbs. I read a few good books on cold winter days or nights, and now I am counting off the weeks to start my started seeds and when I can work in the garden.

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