15 Reasons Why Staying Inside All Winter Can Actually Make You Sick
With temperatures at an all-time low and the hustle and bustle of the winter months taking its toll, you may be tempted to hold up in your house and avoid the outside world. Heck, being out in the cold with all those people is just going to make you sick, right?
On the contrary. Spending too much time indoors can actually have an adverse effect on your health. Hard to believe? Here are 15 reasons why staying inside all winter can actually make you sick.
Your gut health is compromised
You may not realize it, but maintaining a healthy mix of microorganisms in your gut is very important. And the more you get outdoors — yes, even in the cold — the better your gut microbiome will be. “Going outdoors,” Lovebug Probiotics explains, “increases your gut microbiome’s diversity simply by exposing you to a wider variety of good bacteria strains. In turn, a more diverse microbiome tends to be a healthier, more balanced one.” Having good gut health can also help stave off many of the other maladies on this list!
Next: This next one may surprise you …
You don’t sleep as soundly
It may look gloomy and gray outside. But there’s still light outside — and that light helps you sleep at night. “Circadian rhythms refer to the shifts in the body’s biological processes that happen over 24 hours, partly in response to light and darkness,” WebMD says. So if you’re staying cooped up and only absorbing artificial light — fluorescent bulbs, etc — your sleep cycle will likely suffer.
Next: Which can lead to …
Your appetite may change
That’s right — staying indoors all winter can have an effect on your appetite. As WebMD tells us, having trouble sleeping is linked to an increase in appetite, and if you’re holding up in your house you’ll likely end up making more frequent trips to clean out your kitchen. Doesn’t exactly fit in with your New Year’s resolutions, does it?
Next: Your face tells the story …
Your complexion may look different
Sure, wearing sunscreen and staying out of direct sunlight is better for your skin’s overall health. But that more pale complexion you get from staying inside all winter is also a sign you aren’t getting enough vitamin D. As LifeExtension.com summarizes, vitamin D helps your skin cells grow and repair themselves. Without a little outdoor exposure, your skin is being robbed of this component, which helps build your skin’s immune system.
Next: We’ve all had this feeling before …
Your joints may get achy
Not going outside doesn’t just affect the outside of your body. That lack of vitamin D from the sun has a profound effect on your insides too. “Over the past 10 years, several researchers have found an association between extremely low vitamin D levels and chronic, general pain that doesn’t respond to treatment,” WebMD says. Joint pain may be impacted even more by staying indoors because you aren’t moving around enough.
Next: Yep, this can happen …
You could be more likely to catch a cold
“While the influenza virus naturally peaks in the winter, its spread isn’t caused only by lower temperatures,” QualityAirFilters.com says. “People typically spend a lot more time inside during the winter, and being in a stuffy home or building can cause more colds.” Sounds like a good excuse to bundle up in an extra cute peacoat and take a thermos of soup outside to keep your chances of catching a cold down!
Next: This is one of the worst feelings ever …
You may feel stressed for no reason
You’d think staying inside and away from people would make you more relaxed. But quite the contrary — your stress levels can actually spike. IU Health Psychiatrist Dr. Danielle Henderson tells Bustle you can begin to feel the effects of going “stir-crazy” and that you may develop a shorter fuse and “become upset more easily than usual and/or become upset by seemingly minor things.”
Next: You’ve probably heard of this one before …
You may suffer from the winter blues
“During the winter months, there is often less sunlight and people don’t get out of their homes as often. We get essential vitamin D from the sun, so not getting enough sunlight can cause vitamin D deficiency,” QualityAirFilters.com says. This can also develop in Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD). If you can’t get outside for even a few minutes a day, keeping your blinds open and getting as much natural light inside as possible can help. If it doesn’t, you may want to consider investing in a sun lamp.
Next: One of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world …
You may become restless for no reason
Remember how we said staying inside for too long can make you more easily stressed out? It can also leave you feeling restless. Health.com points out not getting out enough causes us to lack motivation to exercise, clean house, etc. But these behaviors can make you more agitated in our own space and drive you to feel unsettled.
Next: As if joint pain wasn’t bad enough …
Your muscles feel tired easily
Staying inside makes you more likely to sit in one place and less likely to be motivated — either to exercise or to move in general. Being stuck in this sedentary state keeps you from properly moving your muscles. Too much sitting or lounging then makes your muscles tighter and more prone to being achy.
Next: Now this can’t be good …
You start losing focus easily
This goes along with feeling stressed and anxious.
Next: Something to consider …
Your social skills can suffer
You may not think spending too much time by yourself can make you sick. But staying cooped up all winter and abstaining from seeing friends and relations can hurt your mental health, Health.com says. The lack of in-person social contact can increase feelings of loneliness and feed into feelings akin to depression.
Next: Surprising, but true …
You may end up drinking more
Long story short: Alcohol makes you feel warm inside, so it’s more tempting to have a cocktail during chilly months. Plus, if you’re anxious or bored from being held up inside all day, libations may be even more appealing. But beware — excessive drinking is bad for both your physical and mental health.
Next: This can’t be good …
You may become obsessive
Staying inside too much — with little to no stimulus from the outer world — can promote obsessive thinking. Health.com reminds us obsessing over a thought or concept raises your stress levels and has an overall negative impact on both your physical and mental health. Gives a whole new meaning to stepping outside “to clear your head” doesn’t it?
Next: So, the moral of the story is …
Staying inside too much is bad for your overall health
We aren’t suggesting you brave a snowstorm. But clearly, staying inside all winter — or any season, really — has a negative impact on both your physical and mental health. Consider bundling up and getting outside for just a couple minutes a day if that’s all you can muster. But those couple of minutes could be the difference in being a happier, healthier you this winter.
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