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5 Tips for Staying Well During Hibernation Season

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In the cold-weather months when daylight wanes and snowflakes and blustery weather keep you indoors, you should not sacrifice your health and well-being just because you feel the familiar tug of hibernation. While hibernation is an essential part of some animals' survival strategy, you can stave off the feelings of the winter blues and keep your spirits high by taking care of your body with a few simple wellness tips.

1) Sleep Longer -- Honor your circadian rhythm, which responds to your environment's light and darkness. In the wintertime when the sun sets around 6 p.m., use this as a reminder to wind down. Leave your work at the office, keep the lights in your home dim and give into those feelings of sleepiness. Creating a sanctuary of calm in your bedroom with cozy blankets and your favorite pillow will have you dreaming in no time.

2) Sip Tea -- Chamomile, Earl Grey, oolong, the list goes on, as do the benefits. Want to stay warm and prevent the flu this season? Stock up on green tea. Improve your antioxidants and reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by drinking three cups of black tea a day. In the UK, the Tea Advisory Panel commissioned a study that concluded that tea is just as hydrating as water. So no matter your favorite flavor, put the kettle on and warm your hand around a mug.

3) Add Spice -- If tucking into comfort food is the first thing you like to do at the hint of cold weather, considering adding some spices to your recipes. Cilantro is an important spice in the ayurvedic diet, and is used as a medicinal herb to aid digestion. Dr. Michael Murray, a natural medicine doctor and author of The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, suggests trying nutmeg, which may encourage sleep by mirroring the effect of serotonin. Combat your irritable mood or low-level depression by sprinkling turmeric in your dish for a quick pick-me-up.

4) Take a Steam -- If the idea of heading to the beach makes you feel instantly relaxed but you just can't get away, head into a sauna or steam room this winter instead. While sweating it out in a heated room has not shown any medical benefits to the body, the de-stressing and relaxation effects may be just what your body ordered.

5) Curl Up With a Book -- Have you been meaning to catch up on the classics, or did you buy a beach read that sat in your bag on the sand? Substitute a night of TV watching to focus instead on sharpening your memory and concentration with a literary romp. You might be surprised to learn that cracking open that hardcover may even make you smarter by expanding your vocabulary and cultural sensitivity.

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