Health & Fitness

’Tis the Season for Focusing on Health: A Winter Wellness Guide

By Peter Simek 12.1.23

The one thing you can predict about Texas weather is that it will always be unpredictable. The wild weather swings this state sometimes experiences are even more pronounced during the winter. It can snow in the Panhandle while still feeling like summer on the Gulf Coast. A temperate 70-degree day in North Texas can quickly become a winter freeze. Or, as happened in February 2021, a freak winter ice storm can blanket the entire state.

With such weather swings, our health may also take some unexpected hits. As the Texas landscape transitions to the cooler side, the importance of adapting winter wellness practices becomes as clear as a crisp Hill Country morning. Staying mindful of a few health habits this time of year can help deliver a flu-free season.

Vitamin D: A Ray of Sunshine in the Winter Diet

In Texas winters, the sun’s lower position and cooler days can lead to a drop in natural vitamin D production, an essential nutrient for bone health and immune function. To counter this, short daily sun exposure and dietary sources such as fortified dairy products, mushrooms, and seafood can help maintain adequate levels. For those with limited sun exposure or dietary restrictions, supplements may be a practical addition, but, as always, consult a health care provider before starting any new medical regimen.

Candy, Curd, and Preserve Winter Citrus
Photo by Natalie Goff

Nutritional Fortitude with Seasonal Fare

Texas winters may not call for heavy comfort foods as in colder states, but they do present an opportunity to strengthen our immune system through what we eat. Fresh produce like Texas grapefruits, oranges, and even winter vegetables such as kale and Brussels sprouts can be foundational for a winter diet rich in vitamins and minerals. Adding a handful of pecans — Texas’ state nut — to meals not only adds crunch but also infuses a dose of healthy fats and antioxidants into any dish. These simple dietary adjustments can be powerful tools to ward off seasonal ailments.

Staying Active

One of the great benefits of living in a state with such temperate winters is that the colder months offer some of the best opportunities to get out and explore Texas’ often scorching natural environments. Plus, maintaining regular physical activity, whether a jog or hike in a state park or a family game of backyard touch football, is essential to keep the body’s immune response sharp and the mind clear.

hydration tips

Hydration Station

With indoor heaters working overtime, the dry air can strip moisture from our bodies. Keeping hydrated is less about battling the overt thirst that comes with summer heat and more about recognizing the subtle signs of winter dehydration. Regular water consumption, perhaps flavored with a squeeze of lime or cucumber slices, can make this necessity more palatable. Herbal teas and broths can also provide warmth and hydration in one soothing package.

Don’t Forget Your Mental Health

Winter can also take a toll on mental health, which is as crucial to tend to as physical health. Consider implementing mindful practices such as bullet journaling, meditating, or words of affirmation to refresh and reset your mind and heart. Take time for yourself, but don’t overlook the importance of maintaining social ties. The winter season, filled with holidays and gatherings, offers numerous opportunities to connect with others, but it’s the quiet moments — sharing stories over a campfire or a cup of coffee with a neighbor — that keep the communal spirit alive and can lift the individual mood.

By tweaking our diets, staying active, keeping hydrated, and nurturing our mental health, we prepare not just to endure but to enjoy and thrive during the winter. With each mindful step, we carry the warmth of well-being through the chill, ready to welcome the spring in robust health.

While we all try our best to stay happy and healthy during these months, it doesn’t hurt to take some time to refresh your knowledge on spotting flu-like symptoms to stay ahead of illnesses.

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