Enjoy a happy, healthy winter. Along with holiday celebrations, winter also may bring health challenges. But you can get ahead of them. “If you prepare, you can have a healthier winter,” says Dominique Greco, MD, family physician at Providence North Coast Clinic.
“The best advice for the winter is to get your flu shot,” says Dr. Greco, “and check with your health care provider for any other immunizations you might need, such as for pneumonia.”
• Stock up. Make sure you have a full supply of your medications and anything else you need to treat chronic conditions.
• Move around. Talk with your health care provider about what exercise or gentle movement you can do inside, within whatever physical limitations you may have.
• Breathe easier. With lung conditions such as asthma, COPD or emphysema, it is particularly important in the winter to make sure you get a checkup with your doctor, get your vaccines, and make sure you’re using your medications correctly. In addition to physical health, tune up your emotional health, too. “Some people can experience mood changes, such as depression, as the winter months approach,” says Shyra Merila, LPC, a behavioral health provider at Clatsop Behavioral Health. “There are things you can do to help with challenges of winter.”
• Go outside even if it’s raining. Lack of natural light throws off our natural mood-regulating hormones. Everyone can benefit from natural light, even when it’s filtered through clouds. • Don’t eat/drink your feelings. Whole foods and grains, and everything in moderation, helps keep both mind and body on an even keel.
• Stay connected to others. Let’s face it. We’re social beings and we need each other. Reach out to friends and family or volunteer to help someone else out. Giving to others can be very rewarding. “One of the best things you can do in the winter, for your physical and mental health, is engage in activities you enjoy,” says Shyra.
“Prepare and plan to do activities daily such as walking or visiting with friends and family. This can include even just connecting with them on the telephone. “If you notice you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or withdrawn, and having thoughts of harming yourself, seek help immediately.”
Our members can receive counseling and other behavioral health treatment at no cost. Just call the number on your member card and ask us to help find you a provider.
Patti Atkins, APR is Communications consultant for Columbia Pacific CCO.