In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

November 14, 2019

Tips for Turning Your Home Into a “Wellness Refuge” This Winter

By In the Loop

As the days turn darker, Kyja Stygar, M.D., a family practice physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, offers tips on making it a happy, healthy winter.

Have you noticed it's been getting dark (too dark to see) earlier and earlier these days? Because we have. And we're not exactly feeling all "hello-darkness-my-old-friend" about it. So we turned to our real friend for some ideas for turning our frowns upside down. And the internet did not disappoint. In an article "Darker days have arrived. Here's how to make your home a wellness refuge all winter long," writer Sarah DiGiulio taps experts, including Kyja Stygar, M.D., a family practice physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, for tips on creating a happy, healthy home this winter. Those tips include:

Lighting up.
During winter, less exposure to light "affects our mood because our bodies need sunlight to produce vitamin D, which appears to help with functioning of parts of the brain that regulate mood and well-being," DiGiulio writes. To combat that, Dr. Stygar recommends "mimicking natural patterns with overhead lighting and lamps." Switch on bright lights — those with "bulb intensities between 4,500 and 6,500k" — which looks similar to daylight.

Cleaning up.
It's the most wonderful time of the year for cold and flu bugs, which spread "when droplets from a cough or sneeze land on a surface that someone else then comes in contact with," DiGiulio writes. To keep your crew from catching (and re-catching) a virus, Dr. Stygar suggest you "disinfect shared surfaces often," including "light switches, remotes, door handles, faucet handles and electronics."

Gearing up.
Gadget enthusiasts, rejoice. We give you the hygrometer — a device we suspect you (like us) may not have known existed until today. (You're welcome.) Use it to "check the humidity level in the different rooms of your house," then figure out how to hit the sweet spot of 30 to 50 percent humidity in each room. If the humidity is higher, "germs will grow faster and last longer." Lower humidity can lead to "dry skin and chapped lips." Even worse, low humidity "dries out the mucus in our noses and mouths, making it easier for germs to get into our bodies."

Getting down.
Dr. Stygar's last tip is our favorite: Plan a party. (Dancing optional.) "Socializing is one of the top mood boosters out there," DiGiulio writes. Invite your friends over for board games, a potluck or happy hour. A little togetherness can provide brightness and warmth any time of the year. (That sounds very koselig to us.)

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Tags: Dr. Kyja Stygar, Family Medicine, Health and Wellness, Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire

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