Here in the Upper Peninsula, winter is well on it's way. Our first snowfall of the season was a few weeks ago now. It was a friendly reminder that for the next 6-ish months we will be bundling up a little more. Even my parent's down in southern Minnesota are in the “frantically chopping enough wood to keep them warm throughout the winter months” phase. We are preparing our homes and our yards for winter, but what about our bodies and our minds?

I know I am guilty of avoiding the coming of winter. I also know I am not the only one. Living in Marquette means winter is pretty much unavoidable, so what can we do to make the cold months a little warmer, a little more inviting?

1) Do what you can to keep warm and healthy. Through the late fall & winter months warmth and health go hand-in-hand. Remember your hat, mittens and scarves when you leave the house. We have all been told that ears, noses, and fingers are the first areas to loose heat and be affected by frostbite, but what about our necks? In Chinese Medical theory, illnesses such as colds & flus are brought on by cold & wind on the back of the neck. By keeping this area covered it could keep you healthier this winter. Try it out and see what you think!

2) Pay attention to what you are eating. Food affects the way we feel on a day to day basis. For most of us, winter in the north feels very cold. Even if we dress for the cold, keeping our insides warm can be a challenge. And as much as it pains me to say it, eating ice cream doesn't help. Instead, try eating foods that are warming, add some of your favorite spices such as pepper, cinnamon, or chillis to your meal. Winter is a time to enjoy the potato and meat dishes us Midwesterners enjoy. Instead of a raw salad, enjoy some cooked greens with your meal. Still craving some salad? Add warm quinoa to it. There are lots of ways to enjoy your favorite foods in a warmer way.

Find something you enjoy. This one is important and is about self care. During the cold, dark winter months it is easy to curl up into a ball and lose yourself. It is easy to dread every step outside, even to get to your car. From snowmobiling, to skiing, to scenic drives, the U.P. has much to offer all winter long. Or you can choose some inside fun: get a pedicure, a massage, or an acupuncture & moxa/moxibustion treatment. Find something that you can look forward to that gets you out and embracing this crazy season we have here in Marquette. What are you looking forward to this winter?