Q&A: Staying Well This Winter
In a two part series, Minnetonka Patch is looking into winter wellness.
This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week. Right around this time of year, many of us are either getting or getting over our first cold and flu of the season. So Minnetonka Patch sat down with Minnetonka family practice physician, Dr. Alison Stolz from Minnetonka's Park Nicollet Clinic, to talk winter wellness.
Minnetonka Patch: What are the most common winter health problems?
Dr. Alison Stolz: Number one is respiratory viruses – colds and flu. Holiday stress and mental health is the second most common. Holidays can be really stressful on people, causing insomnia, anxiety and depression.
Minnetonka Patch: What steps can people take to help prevent colds and flu?
Stolz: The main one is frequent hand washing. The most common way viruses are spread is by touch. Cover your cough and stay home from work to get better. Don't feel bad about taking care of your self. It is not too late for flu shots – in December and January, even February, come on in and get those flu shots.
Minnetonka Patch: Are diet, sleep and exercise factors in staying healthy?
Stolz: Instead of focusing on all the things you shouldn't eat, focus on getting enough fruits and vegetables during the winter season. And don't overdo it on the alcohol.
Minnetonka Patch: What steps can help relieve holiday stress, winter depression and effects of light deprivation?
Stolz: We need to put ourselves first, and take care of ourselves. We have a tendency to put others first, and get so busy that we neglect ourselves. Get adequate sleep, exercise, and don't self-medicate with alcohol. Have realistic expectations surrounding the holidays. If symptoms of insomnia, depression or anxiety are not improving within a few weeks of self-care measures, see your doctor. For light deprivation, try to get a half-hour of sunlight at noontime, such as a walk outside. If that's not possible, or not working, talk to your doctor.
Minnetonka Patch: Are there more injuries in the winter due to the icy conditions?
Stolz: We certainly do see more slips and slides, and more car accidents. You can't be too careful, and this includes while driving.
In part two of our winter wellness Q&A, Minnetonka Patch will explore alternative medicine treatment of seasonal cold and flu.