We all know that staying well in winter can be a little more challenging than during the warmer months. With that in mind, it’s important to be proactive with your health at this time of year.
Sleeping, eating well and exercising are crucial, as well as staying connected, managing your stress load and checking in with yourself regularly. The small daily habits you apply, like going to bed early, exercising for 30 minutes per day and choosing nourishing foods can go a long way in setting you up for a flu-free winter.
I cannot stress this enough: sleep isthe most crucial component to staying healthy! When we compromise this, our immunity suffers, which makes us more susceptible to colds and chills. Healing and repair of the body occurs when we’re in our deep sleep state, so it’s vital we prioritise this. Ideally, we should all be getting between seven and nine hours a night. So, take advantage of the shorter days and head to bed a bit earlier – your body and mind will thank you for it.
Self-care looks different to everyone, but prioritising it is essential for reducing stress. Ensure you’re making time to do the things that fill your cup. It could be yoga, a walk in nature, time spent with your loved ones, expressing gratitude – all of these little things can help buffer us from the more intense and stressful periods of our life, and can put us in a better position to fight those winter bugs.
3. Stay connected
It can be easy to hibernate during winter and not engage as much socially. But for those living alone in particular, that can become isolating. Make an effort to connect with those around you –
in fact, view spending time with others as a fundamental to your wellbeing. Organise winter events and activities that you look forward to, or simply reach out to a friend with a phone
call. Remember to check on an elderly neighbour or family member. Social connection is good for our health – both mental and physical – so don’t let the cold weather get in the way.
4. Keep moving
Frosty mornings can mean it’s harder to get out of bed to exercise, but staying active is a fantastic way to beat the winter blues. So push through and make active mornings a year-round habit. Home workouts are great during the colder months, or join your local gym for indoor workout options. But remember that fresh air is good for you, so don’t be afraid to rug up and breathe in the cool air – I’ve always said there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes! Exposure to natural sunlight increases your levels of vitamin D, which is essential for health, plus exercising means the production of happy endorphins, which are the best thing for our mental health.
5. Be proactive
Rather than waiting till the winter bugs get you, make sure you’re doing everything you can to boost your immunity to keep them at bay. The simplest thing you can do is wash your hands regularly, as most cold and flu viruses are transmitted through respiratory droplets. The flu vaccine is a great way to protect you and your family from getting ill, with recent studies showing the jab reduces your risk by 40-60%. Other easy steps include staying well hydrated and, if right for you, taking supplements that support immunity, such as zinc and vitamin C.
6. Set boundaries
Poor sleep habits and high stress levels are quick-fire ways to end up sick. But we’ve all been there, when we end up rundown and vulnerable after a particularly hectic period in our lives. And that’s because when we’re tired and stressed, healthy habits are often the first thing we compromise. Even in the busiest times, it’s important to set personal boundaries – saying “no” is OK – and to always prioritise self-care. It’s the basics that can set us up to get through: sleep, movement and good nutrition.
7. Nourish to flourish
What you put into your body matters. Instead of reaching for easy comfort foods, make sure you load up on the goodness that fruit and vegetables offer. Ensure you’re having lots of leafy green veges like spinach, kale and broccoli, and add flavour-filled spices to your cooking like turmeric, ginger and coriander, which have been shown to support overall wellbeing. Comfort food doesn’t have to mean unhealthy. Think vege-loaded soups, casseroles and curries – there are so many healthy recipes available.