Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fall and Winter Health

As we approach the fall and winter in New England we notice changes in the weather, light, and temperature.  Our bodies respond to these changes.
There are several things we can do to stay healthy during the fall and winter to avoid colds, sleep better, and have more stable moods.


Start using a light box for 10-20 minutes each morning at the beginning of September.  The light is changing.  Not only are the days growing shorter, but also the sun is lower in the sky.  We are preparing for daylight savings time to be over.  For some of us, light boxes help the most during these months of transition, from September to December. For others they help most during the short days of December through March. I have found the best light box to be the Verilux Happy Light at www.verilux.com

Vitamin D

We get Vitamin D from sunlight.  Most of us in the Northern Hemisphere have low levels of vitamin D.  It is recommended that we take 1,000 mg vitamin D per day, for both men and women. 
Nasal Dryness

Our noses are exposed to much dryer air in fall and winter.  Nasal irrigation daily with a mild saline solution can help with nasal congestion and can help prevent colds.  A neti pot works well, as do  similar products you will find at CVS and Walgreens.  Use distilled water only.

Dry skin, itchiness, and reactions to dry skin can be prevented by using a light moisturizer after you shower or bathe.  Feels good and your skin will be happy.

Wearing shoes that have a good heavy sole will help in slippery weather.  Keep your feet happy with moisturizing and using a foot file on rough heals.

Keeping Active
There are many ways to be active during fall and winter.  Physical activity has been associated with reduced depression and anxiety, as well as improved cognitive functioning and mood.

Walking outdoors except in extreme weather can be continued throughout the winter.  Yak Trax, sold at EMS and REI, are great for walking in icy streets and sidewalks.  Trekking poles with tips for city walking will help with balance and also will give you an upper body workout. 

The MagneTrainer is a mini-bicycle that can be used indoors in bad weather for both legs and upper body; an inexpensive alternative to bigger and more cumbersome exercise equipment. 

Nia is a great, fun, indoor activity that will keep you active and energized.  See www.niaboston.com for classes, teachers, and locations.  There are classes at Laughing Dog Yoga  www.ldyoga.com  right next door to my office on Linden Street and at Fitness Club for Women across the street. 

Join a gym.  I have also referred people to Fitness Together for one to one personal training.

8 glasses of hot or cold water, herbal tea, or diluted fruit juices each day will keep you well hydrated and will help with energy, skin, digestion, reducing cold symptoms, and will prevent headaches.  I drink a glass of Emergen-C  with 12 ozs of water—it  gives me my daily vitamin C and  electrolytes each day. I also drink diluted apple cider vinegar (the unfiltered kind, Bragg's, can be found at Whole Foods.  This is a refreshing drink and is a tried and true folk remedy for overall health.

Coming into Sensation

Introduction to Coming into Sensation for therapy (individual, couples, and group)

Somatic sensations are physical experiences arising from our nervous systems through our muscles, joints, skin, viscera, and our bodies as a whole.  Sensations are messages from the body.  We can develop awareness by paying close and sustained attention to our sensory experiences without  judging them.  Once we are able to pay attention, we listen, hear, and trust these messages.  We can rely on them for insights about ourselves, for guidance  in making wise choices,  and in caring for ourselves. In our relationships, we can empathize with others more effectively as we imagine what someone else is feeling without judgment.