How to Make Home Hibernation Healthy
This winter, take a cue from mother nature and slow down, rest and restore in a cozy, hibernation-ready home!
With every season, our bodies take cues from the natural rhythms of nature. In winter the world slows down, plants become dormant and some animals hibernate – and we follow suit. Cold temperatures and inclement weather mean that we spend plenty of time inside, mostly in our own homes.
Giving a little TLC to our most basic needs: food, sleep, air and light support our “human hibernation,” and there are a few ways to make the home a healthier space.
Prepare Your Den
Along with winter comes cold and flu season, when our respiratory systems become vulnerable to bacteria and viruses that are being passed around. Not only that – allergens can be lurking in the home and reduced airflow means dust, dust mites, pet dander and mold can accumulate. Making sure that your “den” is clean and toxin-free is an important way to support your health in wintertime.
- Using dehumidifiers, and HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filtered air purifiers and vacuums can help to reduce airborne irritants in the home.
- Using pillow and mattress protectors and washing bedding frequently in hot water reduces allergens.
- Quercetin can be taken preventively to reduce histamine and decrease inflammation in the body, which in turn, lowers the production of chemicals that overexcite your immune system.
- Using natural, “green” cleaning products ensures that you and your family are exposed to less toxins and harmful residues.
Stock Your Pantry
Hibernation season coincides with food scarcity for animals in the wild. Some take extended slumbers to conserve energy, some become very lean over the cold months, and other critters stash away food for the leaner months ahead. As for us humans, we require access to food all year round and need nourishment every day to function optimally.
- Stock up on nourishing food, as nipping out to the grocery store isn’t as easy in a snowstorm! Your local CHFA member retailer has a wide selection of healthy ingredients, foods and snacks to help you nourish for winter.
- Eat seasonally. Root vegetables such as carrots, cabbage and rutabaga are widely available, versatile and packed with nutrients, such as vitamin A, beta-carotene, and potassium. Soups and stews are also hearty, warming and weather appropriate.
- It can be hard to be motivated to get up during cold, dark mornings. Set yourself up for breakfast success by prepping the night before, like with these overnight Apple Pie Buckwheat Oats.
- Many of us can benefit from a mood boost in the winter. Including certain foods (and minimizing others) and supplements can affect your mood for the better!
- Settle in with a good book and warm up with these nourishing hot drinks.
Nurture Your Mood
It’s estimated that 15% of Canadians experience the “winter blues,” experiencing low mood and energy, fatigue and anxiety. Winter blues are thought to be a mild form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression, affecting between 1-10% of the general population during the winter season.
- Light therapy (phototherapy) has been helpful for many and is thought to have a positive influence over serotonin levels. Light boxes used daily for a period can help support mood, as can letting as much natural light into the home as possible and going outside on sunny days.
- Emerging from your cave to exercise in nature (especially in sunlight) can have profound effects on your mood and immunity. Just 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise daily has been shown to elevate immune cell level post-exercise.
- Increase your omega-3 intake. Marine (fish) sourced omega-3 supplements containing higher levels of EPA may help support your mood and cognitive health.
- Vitamin D is beneficial for those of us in northern climates for its mood supporting benefits, as it’s harder for our bodies to synthesize this vitamin in the winter months.
Settle in for a Long Winter Nap
Sleep isn’t just appealing this time of year – it is a pillar of seasonal health. Turning in earlier is a natural response to reduced light in winter and helps restore the body and even fortify its immunity. Avoid screens, caffeine and other stimulants to fall into slumber with ease.
Another amazing benefit of Vitamin D is its contribution to healthy sleep and immunity, as low levels have been linked to shorter sleep duration.
Lean into winter – spring will arrive before you know it. While you might not be able to actually hibernate, you can embrace the cozy season and invite others along to practice hygge. Connection is another basic human need so host a book club or invite others by for a hot chocolate by the fire.
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