Warm Up to Winter

Combat seasonal ailments, banish the blues, squelch stress and give your energy levels a boost.

Warm Up to Winter
Pin it Dominick Guillemot

Get your z's Until 130-odd years ago and the development of lightbulbs, the average night’s sleep in the United States was nine hours. These days we tend to forget the benefits of a good night’s sleep. But it has been found to help with regulating the hormones that control appetite and improve immunity, and also regulates production of human growth hormone (aka “the fountain of youth” hormone). So getting eight to nine hours a night can help you lose weight, stay younger-looking and energized, and avoid catching cold and flu bugs. To make time for sleep, cut out the things in your life that feel bad, such as volunteering for committees or helping out with activities you’re not truly passionate about, and keep those that feel good—ones you love and about which you truly care. Many herbals can help sleep as well. I like Enzymatic Therapy’s Revitalizing Sleep Formula (, which contains theanine, Jamaican dogwood, wild lettuce, valerian, passionflower and hops. — Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., medical director of the national Fibromyalgia & Fatigue Centers and optimized Health & Wellness, and author of Real Cause, Real Cure (Rodale, Inc.)

Nourish others Build giving into your life—not just during the holidays, but every day. Oftentimes this can be as simple as asking loved ones what they need from you, and then doing whatever you can to support them. By nourishing others, you become nourished in return. Just make sure you don’t give so much that you feel swallowed up or depleted by your generosity. Love yourself first, and then you’ll have what it takes to love others and be loved in return. Pay attention to your body, and if you’re feeling exhausted, you may in fact need to let others know how they can care for you. That brings us full circle to the idea of conserving energy at the end of winter in preparation for the rebirth of spring. — Elson M. Haas, M.D., integrative physician, founder/director of the Preventive medical Center of Marin in San Rafael, Calif. ( and author of The Detox Diet (Ten Speed Press)

Breathe easy I’m continually amazed by how many of my students and clients don’t breathe properly and/or forget to breathe when they are under stress. The simplest and most basic is the Yoga Belly Breath (deep abdominal breath): Lie down on your back or sit with good posture and place your hands on your lower belly—above the pubic bone, below the navel. As you inhale, invite the breath down to the lowest portion of your lungs so that your belly rounds and your hands gently rise. As you exhale, your belly releases down and your hands gently fall. Continue so that on each inhalation, the belly rounds, the rib cage expands out to the sides and the upper chest fills and broadens. On each exhalation, everything softens and the belly hugs toward the spine. Another easy and effective practice is the extended exhalation: Start with an even breath, mentally counting the length of your inhalation and the length of your exhalation, and trying to make them equal in length. Then, play with making your exhalation up to twice as long as your inhalation. For example, if you inhale to the count of four, try exhaling to the count of five, six, seven or eight. — Carol  Krucoff, yoga therapist at Duke integrative medicine in Durham, N.C., and author of Healing Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain (New Harbinger)

Massage yourself Using the palm of your hand, apply warm olive oil all over your body. Starting at your head, rub in the oil following the contours of your body, using circular motions over your joints and up-and-down strokes over the long bones. Leave the oil on for 15 to 20 minutes, then follow with a warm bath or shower. Your complexion will literally glow, you’ll feel calm and refreshed, and you can say goodbye to dry winter skin! This is an Ayurvedic beauty secret I recommend because you can really see and feel the difference, even after just one massage. In addition, according to Ayurveda, it helps the body naturally detox when coupled with a warm bath or shower. — Nancy Lonsdorf, M.D., an ayurvedic medical practitioner in Fairfield, iowa, and author of The Ageless Woman: Natural Health and Beauty After Forty with Maharishi Ayurveda (MCD Century)