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Stress Management in the Colder Months

Stress Management in the Colder Months

Although some level of stress is normal and can actually be helpful for us to push forward- how do we keep it from becoming too much?  This is an important question especially considering the added stress that often comes with the holidays. Now is a great time to reflect on what you’ve been doing and what you could do to help you manage/reduce your stress. At EPIC, we recommend getting at least 20 minutes of S.O.M.E. stress reduction every day.  

So, what is S.O.M.E.?  

  • S = Sunlight – If you’re in the midwest or anywhere that experiences all 4 seasons, you may know that it is harder for us to get the beneficial Vitamin D we need from the sun during these winter months.  Be sure to check with your Provider to see if you would benefit from a Vitamin D supplement especially during the winter!  Even though we can’t enjoy the sunshine as much during the wintertime- we can keep our blinds open and let that light in when it does decide to shine! There are also Sunlight Lamps (also known as Light Therapy) that may be a helpful light alternative for you.  
  • O = Oxytocin is the cuddle hormone that is released whenever we are engaged in intimate encounters. This doesn’t just mean sexy time with your significant other – you can stimulate oxytocin with music, hugging, kissing, petting your animals, expressing your love and affection to someone special, and even cooking/eating with someone you care about.  
  • M = Mindfulness, meditation, prayer, deep breathing, yoga, journaling, counseling, and really any activity that helps you dive into and externalize the deep thoughts that are inside.  There’s a lot that can go into this “M”, and, similar to the other pieces of this puzzle, you have the control to choose what you want to include. This is all for YOU!  
  • E = Exercise is a great way to reduce the stress chemistry within the body! This could be walking, yoga, strength training, dancing – whatever you’re inspired to do to get moving! 

Twenty or more minutes of any and all of the above combined and practiced daily, will serve you to lay down a foundation of stress-reduction that will lower the negative effects of stress on your body and help restore your overall function and health.  So with that in mind, what changes within our stress management routine do we need to consider as we get into the winter? 

As mentioned above, sunlight is a big one, along with movement.  A lot of us are used to going for a quick walk when it’s nice outside, but we are less inclined to do that when it is cold.  If this is the case for you, it may be helpful to consider some other types of movement/activities that you might enjoy inside and could help replace the time you would’ve spent outside. Of course, if you’re willing to bear the cold to go for a walk – go for it!  Otherwise, there are a lot of other ways we can be active in our homes.  Here are a few resources that may help you in finding what type of movement is right for you: 

  • Fitonapp.com
  • Darebee.com
  • Youtube and Google can be your friends here too!  You can search for specific modifications, playlists, and/or challenges – there’s something out there for everyone.  You just have to spend some time figuring out what would be best for you. 
    • Look up a new dance to learn with your partner!
    • Follow your favorite yoga instructor or strength trainer to find what is fun for you!  Again, this is purely for you and your enjoyment, so take your time to find what means the most to you 🙂 

As this year comes to a close, now is a great time to reflect on your stress management habits and work to prioritize YOU in this new year. You deserve time to relax and recenter!  Be honest with yourself about how you’re doing, decide what would be most beneficial for you to include in your personal stress management routine, and communicate with those close to you so they can help you feel good, too 🙂 

Natalie Smith

Health Coach

EPIC Functional Medicine

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