By Colleen Badgero
When the holidays are over, the cold, dark, quiet winter season finds us spending more time indoors. As a result winter, along with the beginning of a new year, fosters self-reflection and resolution to make positive changes in our lives. It also fosters the resurgence of all our favorite winter ailments, like dry skin, cold/flu bugs, and muscle tension.
When making your resolutions and trying to decide how to spend leftover holiday cash, consider choosing products that will help build healthy habits to stay well this winter. I discovered a wide variety of such products that are both functional and affordable by a company called Gaiam. The examples presented here are under $20 and available on Amazon.com (woo hoo! free shipping!).
Winter brings with it a vulnerability to dehydration. Humidity leaves the air as it gets colder, draining moisture from our bodies, resulting in chapped, cracking skin. We may not feel as thirsty as during the hot, sweaty summer months, so we tend to drink less fluids. When we do drink, it’s more likely to be things like alcohol and caffeinated beverages that soothe and give us a temporary boost of energy, but both have dehydrating effects on our bodies. The protective mucus membranes in our sinuses and respiratory tract need to be well hydrated to adequately ward off all the bacteria and viruses we’re exposed to regularly during cold/flu season.
The best way to stay hydrated is to carry a reusable, stainless steel water bottle that is BPA free (so no nasty plastic chemicals). A sturdy, portable water bottle encourages its owner to boost water intake by becoming a faithful hydrating companion that supplies our primary life-sustaining molecule, high-quality H2O.
Another challenge associated with a cold winter is the stress and tension it generates. Exposure to frigid temperatures and navigating icy, snowy conditions creates a tendency to tense up neck, shoulder, jaw, and chest muscles into a hunched posture in an attempt to produce and retain internal body heat. With less exposure to sunlight, many of our bodies don’t produce enough Vitamin D, a mood and energy booster, leaving us stressed and drained. Often stress manifests itself as tension and tightness in the aforementioned muscle groups, causing pain and discomfort.
The Hot/Cold Trigger Point Massage Ball is one great solution to that problem. On a cold night, the Massage Ball can be heated in hot water, then used to roll out and relax tight muscles, stimulating blood flow and reducing pain. My favorite way to counteract the hunched winter posture and relieve tension plaguing the neck, shoulders, and back is to lay on top of the ball, positioned on the upper back between the shoulder blades, and allow gravity along with gentle weight shifting (left to right, up and down) to open the chest and give a targeted massage to the areas that need it most.
Go to Gaiam.com and/or Amazon.com’s Gaiam store for these and more wellness boosting products to stay above the usual winter woes and kickstart a happy, healthy new year.
Image 01: Marrakesh Water Bottle $12.98 – Image 02: Hot/Cold Trigger Point Massage Ball $14.95