Sharecare Top 5: Ways to Fight the Effects of Winter

This time of year has its perks: snowmen, hot cocoa and this year, the Sochi Olympics. But let’s face it, winter has downsides, too. Frigid temperatures, dry air and lack of sunshine can do a number on your body and your mood. Fortunately there’s hope for all that. We’ve got five tips to help you survive the negative effects of winter, and more.

1. Relieve dry skin
You already know that cold weather can severely dry out your skin. But aside from washing with a mild cleanser and applying moisturizer, there are other ways to protect against dryness. Cut down on alcohol and caffeine, which can rob your skin of moisture. Another option for keeping skin moisturized is coconut oil, which contains strong antioxidants that help soften your skin. Watch this video with dermatologist Rosemarie Ingleton, MD, to find out which products can make dry skin even worse.

2. Prevent parched peepers
Lack of moisture in the air can leave your eyes dry, scratchy and irritated. Sounds pretty awful, right? Instead of subjecting your eyes to the harsh weather, take a hint from Hollywood and wear big sunglasses. They not only look cool, but they can protect your eyes from the elements. You can also try eating more omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation in your tear glands and relieve dryness.

3. Keep the pounds off
If those oh-so-chilly temperatures are keeping you indoors, snuggled up watching TV, you’ve probably experienced the dreaded winter weight gain. To stay motivated during the winter months, it’s important to make exercise fun. If you can brave the cold, consider going skiing, ice-skating, building a snowman or having a snowball fight. If it’s too cold to go outside, walk around the mall, sign up for an indoor exercise class or get a jump rope. If you’re indulging in too many steamy comfort foods and creamy hot drinks during the winter, here are four ways to satisfy your hunger while still staying slim.

4. Stop a runny nose
Does your nose run more during the winter than Forrest Gump on a country dirt road? Cold temperatures can actually paralyze the tiny hairs in your nose (called cilia) that normally carry secretions up your nose towards your sinuses. When this happens, the secretions drain down with gravity, and your nose runs. To prevent this from happening, wrap your nose and mouth with a scarf or wear a turtleneck to protect your nose from the cold. Another option is to take a warm shower or bath. This can help a runny nose because the air you’re taking in is already moist and warm, so the membranes can relax and stop secreting mucus. Find out the device that Dr. Oz recommends for stopping a runny nose.

5. Beat winter SADness
If the wintertime makes you feel depressed, lethargic and overly irritable, you could have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Typically the symptoms appear between September and April, when there are fewer hours of sunlight. If you think you may have this mood disorder, there are plenty of ways to feel better. Julie Hanks, LCSW, recommends scheduling regular social outings and events so that you avoid social “hibernation”. She also recommends being active, whether you’re in the mood or not. Even moderate exercise, like walking, can make you feel better. Another option: light box therapy. Regular exposure to artificial light can help reduce SAD symptoms and improve your mood.