The cold winter months have an uncanny way of bringing on cases of the sniffles. It’s during this season that we also often tend to feel sluggish and sometimes a little depressed. If we use this time to focus on our health, however, we’ll be more inclined to embrace the cold weather whilst also succeeding at keeping colds and flu at bay. Even when we feel tempted to hibernate, keeping healthy and fit is what will help us to enjoy the dormant season as we wait for summer to approach.
To encourage you to feel motivated this winter and to keep you in tip-top shape so that you can enjoy the season’s activities, we have listed 10 useful tips that will help you to have a healthier winter.
1. Remember to Stay Hydrated
Without having the heat around to remind us of how thirsty we are, it becomes a habit to drink less water during the nippier months. Instead, we fill up on hot beverages or drinks that have a little more of a “kick” to them with the purpose of warming our bodies up and finding a bit of relief from the cold. This habit can lead to dehydration, however, and is one of the reasons why we tend to have less energy during winter. Water helps the body carry nutrients to cells and it flushes out nasty toxins that make us feel sluggish. Our advice is to try and keep a bottle of water at hand throughout the day and to take regular sips in between tasks and chores.
2. Make Vitamin C a Part of Your Daily Diet
If you are not a big fan of fruits and vegetables, then you certainly should be taking a multivitamin to ensure that your body is getting enough of the “good stuff”. And as winter approaches, we recommend that you specifically increase your daily dose of vitamin C. According to WebMD, this natural resource benefits the body by helping to protect it against immune system deficiencies and other diseases. By simply increasing your intake of vitamin C, you could be avoiding all sorts of colds and cases of flu that like to “bug” us as the weather changes. This nutrient can be found in food sources such as citrus fruit, broccoli, yellow peppers and even parsley! If these food-types don’t tickle your taste buds though, then you could always get your daily dose of vitamin C in capsule form.
3. Dress for The Weather
Winter is a time to pull out those ugly Christmas sweaters and bulky coats. But, as snug as these thick winter garments might be, a better choice would be to warm up with a number of layers instead of wearing thick clothes that don’t breathe well. Layers help to beat the cold because the air between each garment acts as an insulator, keeping you warm without building up a sweat. Layers are also easy to remove and replace as you move between the outdoors and heated buildings. By removing one layer at a time you are subtly changing your body temperature which is healthier than exposing it from one extreme temperature to the next.
4. Workout at Home
When the weather turns and winter starts to sink in, many of us automatically become hermits. There’s nothing wrong with this if we continue practising healthy habits, like exercise for instance. You do not need to brave the cold outdoors to stay fit and active, you can instead enjoy a thorough workout from the comfort of your own room. The internet is overflowing with videos and workout routines, so there’s really no excuse. By staying active, we increase our energy and strengthen our immune systems. We feel good and look good.
5. Limit the Festive Drinking
For many parts of the world, winter not only brings cold weather but it also means that the festive season is upon us. During this time, we tend to over-indulge in food and, of course, alcohol. While there is nothing wrong with a stiff drink (or two), we do encourage you to limit your intake and take safety measures if you do find yourself drinking excessively at your work’s end-year Christmas function. Alcohol not only makes us do irrational things but it also slows down the functioning of our bodies which makes us more susceptible to flu bugs that are doing their rounds and it also makes us feel drained and low on energy.
6. Eat Healthy Comfort Food
As soon as nippy weather sets in, we almost instantly start craving warm and heavy comfort food. This is not a bad thing if we can stick to nutritional meals instead of filling up on fast food and greasy dishes. Vegetable-laden stews, casseroles and soups are perfect for warming bellies while also giving you the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy during winter. Eating healthy not only keeps your body in good shape, but it also helps you to keep a good state of mind. It all starts with the gut, really.
7. Wash Your Hands Often
Washing your hands often is a good habit to have throughout the seasons but even more so during the winter months where germs and bacteria are on the rise. It sounds simple but giving your hands a thorough scrub with soap just a few times a day can help to keep flu and illnesses at bay. Remember to dry your hands properly, however, because wet skin can actually help to spread bacteria – and air drying is not an option, rather use a fabric or paper towel to remove all moisture from your hands.
8. Sit in The Sun
When it feels like it’s below freezing outdoors, we tend to rely on indoor heating to thaw our bones and warm up our bodies, even if the sun is shining. This is OK because we do need to maintain our body heat but at the same time, we also need to expose ourselves to the winter sun at least a few times a week. Apart from being a natural source of vitamin D, a vitamin that helps to keep your bones strong and healthy, sitting in the warm sun and soaking up the rays helps us to relax and destress. It lightens our mood and helps us to connect with nature, which has its own healing properties. A little bit of sunshine will keep depression at bay and it has an uncanny way of making us feel more alive and motivated as we feel the natural warmth on our skin. During the summer months, we advise you to shorten your exposure to the sun as too much time spent in the rays can have adverse effects.
9. Banish Winter Tiredness
As the days get shorter and we’re left with less daylight, our bodies naturally begin to produce more melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that makes us feel tired and sleepy when produced in excess and is one of the reasons why we feel lazy and like we could hibernate for days come wintertime. This doesn’t mean that we should be sleeping more, however. A good 8 hours rest is more than adequate and in fact, if we sleep more than we need to, this can leave us feeling just as sluggish. Aim for 8 hours sleep every night and your body will continue to function quite happily.
10. Reduce Stress
Just like spring encourages us to freshen our homes and spring clean, we should also use the onset of winter to declutter, if not our homes then at least our minds. Take the new season as an opportunity to set some resolutions and put to rest the hardships that have been following you around during the summer months. Take a break over the festive season and use the holidays to fit in some relaxation. Do some yoga, read a book or make an appointment at your favourite spa – just do something to unwind and destress. A tense body is more prone to immune deficiencies and continuously feels exhausted. Take some time for yourself and you will feel all the better.