The winter months often provide us with the perfect opportunity to stay indoors and hibernate. We eat comfort food, we don’t venture outside to exercise because it’s too cold and too wet, and overall, we spend most of our days indoors.
It’s during the winter months however, that we need to more vigilant about our lifestyle choices. Poor nutrition weakens our immune system, low to no physical activity increases our risk of chronic disease and increased body weight, and spending most of our days indoors often affects our moods, with many people during the winter months experiencing the winter blues…
So what can we do? How can we keep our health and wellbeing in check during the colder months? These 5 tips can help:
1. Eat well and keep hydrated
During the cold and flu season, it is imperative that we eat healthy to keep our immune system strong. This includes eating 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit every day. Hearty winter casseroles and soups packed with vegetables can often help us achieve this. Adding vegetables to your breakfast omellete can also help.
This time of the year we also tend to indulge more in comfort food. The occasional treat is okay – try and remember though to eat mindfully. Give your full attention to the present moment and eat slowly by taking the time to enjoy what you’re eating.
If however you’re eating comfort food more than just occasionally, reflect on what it is that you’re seeking. Is it about having something warm and hearty? Or is it something sweet that you’re craving? Are you in fact wishing to lift your energy and mood?
If you are seeking to feel emotionally better and wish to improve your mood, reflect on what else you could do instead. Try calling a loved one or debrief with a trusted friend for example, or play with your children, take your dog for a walk, indulge in a hot bath or book yourself in for a massage. Think about what might work for you and put it into action…
2. Keep active
To counteract winter weight gain and to reduce our risk of developing chronic diseases (such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers), keeping active during this time is important. Even a short walk around the block can do wonders.
Moving your body on a regular basis also increases your energy levels, improves your overall mood, reduces stress, and relieves depression and anxiety.
Remember, you don’t need to set aside long periods of time to exercise. Break down a 30 minute workout into 10 minute sessions throughout the day – it has the same benefits. This could include a short walk at lunchtime, and another one before dinner…
3. Go outdoors and get some sunshine
As we tend to spend most of our time indoors and often cover up when we do go outside, our vitamin D levels tend to deplete during this time.
Unless you are out on the snow, the Cancer Council Victoria recommends we put away the sunscreen and sun hat, and spend at least 20 minutes outdoors.
What is also encouraged is to get active at midday which helps with vitamin D production. Apart from topping up on our Vitamin D, stepping outside also makes us feel better, and helps to improve our mood.
When surrounded by green nature, we become more connected to our mother earth and overall our mood and mental health improves. Even just looking at photos of nature or our garden, can induce relaxation. Going outside and taking a few deep breaths can do wonders to help clear the mind and re-energise you for the rest of the day.
4. Plan fun activities
To keep your spirits up during the dark, cold, and wet winter months, plan some fun activities and treats for yourself, and for your family.
Book yourself in for a massage, take your family to the snow, the hot springs, or have some fun at Luna Park.
It doesn’t need to be elaborate, but a treat could be as simple as purchasing some bright coloured flowers for your home, buying a few iTunes, going out to dinner with your family at your favourite restaurant, or lighting a scented candle.
5. Rest and recuperate
If you’re one of the unlucky ones that gets struck down by the cold or flu, take some time out, and rest. As we’re currently also in the midst of a pandemic, it’s important to stay vigilant, practice good hygiene and stay at home and self-isolate.
As some of the symptoms are also similar to COVID-19’s, it’s important that you get tested to confirm whether you have contracted COVID-19 or not. For further information about this and where to go, visit healthdirect’s website for all the details.
Stay hydrated and keep yourself warm during this time by drinking herbal teas, indulging in hearty soups and staying in bed.
Remember to take a break from work – this is especially important during the global pandemic to help stop and slow the spread of the Coronavirus; your colleagues and the community will thank you for it! If you feel unwell, get tested and take the time you need to rest and recuperate.
And of course, also aim to get a good night’s sleep. A good night’s sleep helps the body heal and recover and also works at fighting off infection by strengthening the immune system.
At the end of the day, what you choose to put into practice is up to you..
Start small and build on the small steps and gains that you are making every day.
Before you know it, you will have survived the winter months and spring and summer will have truly arrived.