1. Exercise. Even if you only have time to get your heart rate up for 20 minutes every day, you’ll benefit from the immunity boosting benefits of less stress and better sleep. Plus exercise fights depression, aka the “winter blues” and gives you extra energy to tackle your other tasks.
2. Foam roll. If you don’t have a foam roller, try a tennis or lacrosse ball. Just place it against a wall and lean into it gently with your tight or stressed out muscles. Your mid and upper back are usually in need of some TLC, plus hips and calves can benefit greatly if you place the ball on the floor. This will help your muscles stay loose, and posture stay upright, both which will keep you from getting injured. It also increases circulation — and best of all it feels great!
3. Breathe. Whether you meditate freestyle, listen to audiotapes, do yoga, or just like to sit still for a few moments and focus on your breath, there are tons of physical, emotional, and mental benefits that come from breathing and meditating. It can lower stress and blood pressure, improve mood and productivity, and all around keep you sane and healthy.
4. Sleep. Find a nighttime routine that works for you. “Electronic blackout” an hour before lights-out is a good idea to let the brain wind down for more restful sleep. A low-key ritual of reading, writing, or otherwise winding down at the same time every night will get you to sleep sooner. Keep in mind that our bodies are all different, but earlier is usually better, and 8 hours is usually a good amount to aim for. This will keep your immune system at its strongest, and your stress levels at their lowest.
5. Hydrate. Don’t scale back your water intake as the weather cools off, because you’ll need to stay hydrated as heaters kick in. Plus water is your body’s best form of detox: it helps it to flush properly, and fight off potential illnesses.
6. Journal. It may sound silly, but spending a few minutes each day focusing on positive things in your life that you’re grateful for can keep you happy and healthy as the days get shorter and colder. Write down the things you are most thankful for, and carry them with you throughout the day as a reminder when you start to get stressed!
7. Contrast showers. If you’re strength training or doing other strenuous exercise regularly, your muscles get inflamed. Traditionally people use ice baths to quell the inflammation, but an even better way to treat your muscles is with a contrast shower, switching between hot and cold water. This helps with muscle soreness, increases circulation, and helps to detoxify the body, making you less prone to injury and illness.
Jessi Kneeland is an NYC-based personal trainer. She believes that fitness can show people what they’re made of, including our own Recessionista-in-chief, who’s bum Jessi kicks daily. Check out her blog at http://jessikneeland.wordpr