Along with holiday celebrations, winter also may bring health challenges. But you can get ahead of them.
That includes getting a flu shot. It’s also a good idea to check with your health care provider for other immunizations you might need, such as for pneumonia.
- Stock up. Make sure you have a full supply of your medications and anything else you need to treat chronic conditions.
- Move around. Talk with your health care provider about what exercise or gentle movement you can do inside, within whatever physical limitations you may have.
- Breathe easier. With lung conditions such as asthma, COPD or emphysema, it is particularly important in the winter to make sure you get a checkup with your doctor, get your vaccines and make sure you’re using your medications correctly.
In addition to physical health, tune up your emotional health, too.
“Staying active socially, physically and mentally is really important in the winter months,” says Ashley Brimager, psychologist with Providence Medical Group.
There are things you can do to help with challenges of winter.
- Get natural light. Lack of natural light throws off our mood-regulating hormones. Everyone can benefit from natural light, even when it’s filtered through clouds. “Just 10 minutes of sunshine in the morning can be a good mood boost,” says Brimager.
- Eat and drink a balanced diet. Whole foods and grains, and everything in moderation, helps keep both mind and body on an even keel.
- Stay mentally active. Exercising your mind can help keep you mentally healthier, from crosswords to crochet.
“Loneliness and unresolved grief can pop up in the holiday season, as it is a time when we have strong memories of loved ones,” Brimager says. “Maintaining healthy rituals with family and friends can bring a sense of peace and belonging.”
If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or withdrawn, or having thoughts of harming yourself, seek help immediately.
Our members can receive counseling and other behavioral health treatment at no cost. Just call the number on your member card and ask us to help find you a provider.
Mayo Clinic: Managing holiday stress
Mental Health America: Five things to do