2018-01-11 / Front Page

Daniels offers tips to avoid winter blues

The winter season means more time spent indoors for everyone, which equals a breeding ground for viruses. The Lincoln County Health Depart­ment has asserted that staying healthy is especially important throughout the winter months not only for individu­als, but for everyone around.

“Making sure your family is up-to- date on their annual flu vaccines is one of the single most important things to do in order to stay healthy,” Nurse Manager Hillary Daniel said.

Aside from this, Daniel outlined several basics of health not only for the winter season, but for all seasons. However, these practical tidbits should also help defray the effects of laziness due to time cooped-up indoors while it’s cold out.

Be sure to focus on healthy eating, Daniel said, while incorporating things “in moderation,” such as adequate ex­ercise, plenty of rest, lots of water, and taking steps to decrease stress.

“Get outside. We’re lucky to live among mild temperatures, so it’.s.im­portant . to take advantage of it and get outdoors,” Daniel expressed. “Getting just 30 minutes of sunshine per day can boost a person’s mental health and help to combat those ‘winter blues’ that are present this time of year. Get­ting outside can reduce stress, improve a person’s mood and self-esteem, and boost focus.”

Regular physical exercise can also aid in maintaining a healthy body throughout the winter. It’s been reported that adults need two-and-a- half hours a week of regular physical exercise to maintain overall health. This includes anything from strength training to walking in the neighbor­hood.

Don’t feel like going outdoors? Daniel suggested joining a gym, be­cause more often than not it’s a small price to pay for the safety, conve­nience, and variety of workouts that can be done.

Daniel also noted that it’s important to dress appropriately for this time of year. For extreme cold she suggested dressing in layers by beginning with a tight, thermal layer closest to the skin. “Wear a coat that can be easily removed and don’t forget to cover extremities against harsh weather,” the she said. “Tight clothing is best this time of year, as it seals in body heat.

“It’s also important to dress dry, as well as warm,” Daniel continued, “body heat is lost the quickest when skin becomes wet with water or sweat, so choose fabrics that wick away moisture as opposed to sealing it in.”

The number one culprit is cotton, because it soaks up water and sweat and doesn’t dry well. “It’s also worth noting here that skin protection is especially important during winter months,” Daniel said, including that moisturizer and Chapstick will keep skin from drying out and daily ap­plication of sunscreen will prevent unwanted burn and the likelihood of cancer.

“Now that the holidays are over, we can focus our minds on healthy eating,” Daniel segued. “Rather than relying on a fad diet or worse, diet pills, focus on a health change toward better eating.”

Healthy eating is important during cold-weather months, because what fuels the human body is ultimately what keeps people healthy. With the start of a new year, take some time to purge the pantry of junk foods, highly processed items, and foods with no nutritional value.

“Take an hour to plan a weekly menu for your family that includes three healthy meals and some healthy snack options,” Daniel said. “Using your menu, buy only items from a grocery list and resist the urge to buy cookies or ice cream – they weren’t on the list, were they? – this will also save you some money, too.”

Daniel further suggested that during winter months, make sure to incorpo­rate plenty of the following foods in your diet: l Foods packed full of vitamin C – citrus fruits are at their highest nu­tritional value during winter months. Vitamin C can aid achy joints, but is also a key component in overall bone health. l Dark, leafy greens are in peak season this time of year too. They are packed full of folate and vitamin A, K, and C. For those who take a blood thinner, be careful not to over do the greens because they can interfere with the medication’s mechanism of action. l Oatmeal is a perfect on-the- go, hot breakfast for cold, dreary morn­ings. Most oatmeals on the shelf contain an adequate supply of zinc – needed for immune function – and soluble fiber, which is the “stick to your ribs” component of oatmeal. l Chili is the perfect winter food. Generally speaking, chili contains a generous supply of vegetables and can be seen as a lower-fat meal. Tomato juice, paste, and sauce contains lyco­pene, which boosts brain function and can help lift the “fog” in our minds that winter weather can bring. Try packing your chili with vegetables like onions and peppers for an added health ben­efit. Beans, of any variety, will aid in muscle building. But cut back on the amount of beef used in your recipe in favor of turkey or venison.

“If you find yourself sick this win­ter, don’t think you can ‘ride it out’ or overlook your illness,” Daniel.cautio­ned. .

“Most wintertime illnesses need a doctor’s attention. Many times, if left untreated, minor colds and coughs can become major and may even lead to a hospital visit.

“And, while you’ll be in the best hands in a hospital, it’s difficult to overcome major illnesses lying in a hospital bed,” Daniel said. “Do your­self a favor and seek medical attention before it’s too late.”

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