Does the winter weather have you pining after warmer days? Worried Little Junior is about to come down with the seasonal flu? Do the grey skies have you feeling down?
Winter months brings a different set of physical and mental health challenges for parents and children. But hang in there! Here are some tips that will have everyone feeling better in no time.
1. Moderate winter air dryness in your home.
Winter air in the northern hemisphere is marked by low levels of moisture. This means that days are typically dry. While you might not be able to tell the difference, your body can.
Family members with breathing problems might also feel the influence through a flare up of asthma or nosebleeds. Why? The mucus in your sinuses dries out when the air has low humidity levels. Which also means that you are more susceptible to catching colds and other air borne bacteria during this season.
To keep sinus problems away, experts recommend placing a humidifier in family rooms. Or using a salt water nasal spray.
2. Eat immune-charging meals and snacks.
Winter colds and flus are no fun for anyone—neither the child nor the parent taking care of the child. Yet, when it is cold out, many of us are guilty of automatically reaching for a cup of hot cocoa to soothe and warm ourselves and our little ones.
Here’s what’s terrible about that. One cup of cocoa can contain up to 24 grams of sugar. Which is the daily permissible limit for an adult woman. Sugar lowers a body’s immune system, leaving it weakened and less able to fight off contact with germs.
Keep your whole family’s immune system fully charged by replacing sugary treats with foods that help the immune system work as it should. Prevention lists the following foods as powerful immune system boosters:
- oats and barley
- chicken soup
- sweet potatoes
3. Treat SAD symptoms seriously.
Wondering why you or a member of your family is particularly mopey during winter? They might be experiencing SAD symptoms. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is depression that sets in most commonly during winter. Symptoms include typical signs of depression which fade when sunnier and warmer days return.
Causes of SAD have been linked to a disruption of the body’s natural circadian rhythm. A rhythm that is based on sunlight, and which our body uses to regulate our sleep patterns. Since winter has longer nights, the decrease in sun time can lead to sleep behavior that is different from the rest of the year.
Additionally, less sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin levels—the feel-good brain chemical.
Tempted to tell your kids to tough it out? Not so fast. Mayo Clinic suggests that if SAD is diagnosed early, treatments can help sufferers.
4. Keep the gratitude flowing.
Little ones driving you up the wall with their impatience for warmer weather? Perhaps you can’t wait for the day when they can, once again, play outside without risk of freezing?
Take a moment with your kids to count your blessings. Too old-fashioned for your taste? It still rings true today. Recent research has shown that those who expressed gratitude and felt thankful were better able to be patient. So, consider teaching thankfulness as a skill during the colder days, as it might help your crew be better at waiting for spring’s return.
Of course, there are other benefits to gratitude outside of increased waiting power. In an article published on Time.com, they list better sleep as one of the gains of grateful people.
Gratitude can also help guard against overeating. Something many of us need help with. Other results include happiness and less feelings of depression. You may also find yourself taking better care of you. A task many parents place on the backburner.
5. Find ways to keep the family active.
Yes, you might not want to leave the house, but there are still ways everyone in the family can stay active. For the parents, it might mean using the treadmill. For the kiddos, it might mean pulling out a trampoline, or allowing for some rough and tumble on the living room floor. Just don’t try to go without exercise.
One cause for the winter blues could be due to inactivity. When the body is up and moving, this releases feel-good chemicals to the brain that pump out feelings of well-being.