Self-care seems to be one of ‘those’ phrases from the ‘wellness’ movement, that for those of us of a certain age invokes a bit of a sense of self-indulgence and a hint of weakness.
However, particularly in winter, ensuring you have a strong self-care regime can not just improve your mood, it can help protect your health, preventing falls and preserving mental clarity.
If you really can’t bear the slightly fluffy notion of nurturing oneself, perhaps consider it a bit like your winter trip to the mechanics. A little time checking out the engine and kicking the tyres now can avoid an expensive and inconvenient breakdown later.
Get Enough Light:
If it’s freezing it is harder to get out and about but even in the depths of winter, it’s vital to make sure you get enough light.
Without it, you risk Vitamin D deficiency and SAD disorder; not just some modern ailment but seasonal depression that can be debilitating.
Get out early in the morning for a brisk walk – the earlier the better. Failing that get a lightbox, and make sure you run it for at least an hour a day to feel the benefits.
Supplement Your Diet:
Supplements will never be a replacement for a poor diet, but some supplements have been shown to offer excellent benefits to us as we age – just remember to talk to your doctor before beginning any regime to ensure it is right for you:
Vitamin D: Speaking to Age UK Priya Tew says: ‘It can be difficult in the UK to meet our vitamin D needs through sunlight and diet alone. For this reason, it’s recommended that over-65s take a supplement of vitamin D of 10 micrograms per day
B Vitamins: If you have a healthy diet, you shouldn’t necessarily need extra B Vitamins but as we age it becomes harder for the body to absorb them. Try adding Marmite to your diet and look at a 2mg supplement if necessary
Echinacea: A herb that laboratory tests suggest can help with inflammation and maintain the immune system. Usually comes as 70mg.
Glucosamine: According to Arthritis UK, glucosamine, this amino acid has been shown to ease joint pain and stiffness.
Fish Oil Supplements: Seniors can take fish oil supplements to reduce triglyceride and cholesterol levels, relieve joint pain and prevent omega-3 deficiency. Look for 250mg of DHA and EPA and try and get the best quality you possibly can.
Why yes, the sofa is lovely in winter. And yes, it is miserable to brave the wind and rain, but studies show that regular exercise that mixes high impact with weight-bearing exercise helps to build and maintain bone density and can improve serotonin levels, which control mood, in similar amounts to antidepressants.
Yoga and Pilates are particularly beneficial if you have osteoarthritis and sore joint issues.
You can do this however you like but provided you don’t have cardiovascular issues; a sauna is one of the best ways to nurture and treat your body.
It works by increasing your heart rate, to as much as 150 beats per minute and widening blood vessels. This increases circulation, much like moderate exercise.
This increased circulation can ease joints, improve mood and according to one study may even reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
There’s very few of us don’t enjoy a good rub-down, but even if you can’t afford it you can take advantage of the pain-relieving benefits of massage at home.
Try a foam roller (loads of how-to’s on YouTube) or bribe a friend or partner to gently massage sore feet and ankles of an evening to reduce pain and swelling
Whether you care about how you look or not is your business, but ignore your skin at your peril. Central heating and changing weather can leave even hardy skins sore and dry.
Look for a richer cream, with an ingredient like calendula which is soothing and offers intense moisture. We’d also suggest a great face oil of a night-time.