Winter is often the most dreaded season when it comes to health. Between the common cold, flu, and allergies, it can be teeming with germs and illness. And this year, with the Covid-19 pandemic still affecting many countries across the globe, the illness will be even more common.
That’s why doing your best to stay healthy is more important than ever. With all of the holidays and socially-distanced events that will be occurring this season, we all have to do our best to keep ourselves and those around us in good condition.
There are many downsides to not staying healthy, and they’re not just illness. Poor mental health can cause a weakened immune system, depression, and sluggishness. Unhealthy diet and exercise habits can lead to a further weakening of your body.
An important thing to do this winter will be to educate yourself. Learn the early warning signs of poor health, both mental and physical, so you can try to avoid them or, if necessary, deal with them as soon as they appear.
It’s going to be a difficult winter for everyone this year in terms of staying healthy. But there are a few things you can do to help yourself stay healthy in winter.
Cold, flu, and Covid-19
The most pressing concern for many people will likely be avoiding physical illnesses, like the flu and Covid-19. There are many ways you can do this, and all of them are equally important.
First, follow normal health practices! Wash your hands often for 20 seconds, stay bundled up when you go outside, and keep yourself warm when you come back in. Stock up on health care equipment supplies like bandaids, cough syrups, and hand sanitizer.
Along with these, follow the guidelines of medical professionals. Wear a mask when you leave your home, and try to remain at least six feet away from other people. Don’t eat at a restaurant unless it is safe to do so, and the same can be said for activities like ice skating or sledding.
Stay updated on your vaccines. The most important thing here is your flu shot. Some experts are saying that this could be a particularly bad flu season, so getting your shot as soon as you can will help! Even if you do get the flu, it can make the symptoms far more manageable.
Most importantly, don’t skip out on going to the doctor. Health care agencies may be busy right now, but they still exist for your benefit.
Go in for all regular checkups, whether that be hearing tests, physicals, or others. You’d be surprised at how much better you feel when you have the number for a trusted gynecological care services specialist at your fingertips.
Additionally, if you feel sick or ill in some way, don’t wait to get yourself checked out. Catching an illness early is important in treating it and lessening its severity. The longer you wait, the sicker you could get. Everyone, from physical therapists to your audiology specialist, would certainly encourage you to check in with them if you need to stay healthy in winter.
A few other things you can do are to focus on the health of your immune system and skin. Keeping your immune system healthy is key to fighting off potential infections. There are many ways to do this, from diet and exercise to vitamin supplements. And skincare can get much harder in the winter, with all the cold weather and dry air. So make sure to not ignore it, lest you get stuck with irritated, dry skin while you’re at Thanksgiving dinner.
Diet and exercise
While some people may forget about this part of their life during these months, it is just as important as everything else. Maintaining a proper diet and exercise regimen can boost your energy levels, immune system, and mental health, and help you stay healthy in winter.
The winter months can be a lot harder here, too. The cold temperatures and dry air make outdoor exercise hard, and all the holidays make healthy eating very difficult. But don’t worry, there are plenty of ways you can keep up good practices this winter.
First, diet. You don’t necessarily have to stick to a strict diet to eat well. If you choose to eat better types of food, even if you vary, it will be much better for you. And small choices, too— like a gluten free frozen pizza rather than Domino’s— can help.
Try to pack yourself with protein. Protein supports the health of your body, and boosts energy levels. Choosing foods that are heavy in protein, like nuts, meat, and beans, will help you stay healthy in winter.
Add some vitamin supplements, especially Omega 3 fatty acids. These help with joint pain, strengthen your joints, and can help alleviate feelings of depression.
Watch your caffeine intake. Too much caffeine can be rough on the body, so though the days may be dreary, try to limit how much coffee you have. Consider teas instead, especially herbal teas. Not only are they much lower in caffeine, but you can find different teas to help all areas of your body, from your brain to your bones to your stomach.
Lastly, cook with spices! Not only can they add great flavor to your dish, but certain spices, such as onions, garlic, and ginger, can help boost the strength of your immune system and increase your overall health.
Then there’s exercise. The winter is when many people trail off from this, whether it’s because of the shorter days, colder air, or more time spent indoors. But exercise can have all sorts of benefits for your body, so keeping it up will really help you stay healthy in winter.
Consider exercising with other people. You could make a plan with one of your family members, or meet up outside with a friend for socially-distanced exercise. Having someone else with you will help boost your motivation and energy.
Also try to plan your exercises in advance. It can be the day before or a week ahead, whatever works best for you. Make a plan and stick to it. This makes the exercise intentional, and you don’t feel overwhelmed when leg days comes and you haven’t planned what to do.
You could consider getting some sort of game or app to help you exercise. Wii Fit, Xbox Kinect, and other such systems all have great ways for you to exercise and have fun. A Fitbit can help track your exercise, and give you goals to work towards. Consider making use of one of these to make your exercise more fun and organized.
Though this affects people all year round, it can be much harder to maintain good mental health during winter. 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression, and for many that may be Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as seasonal depression.
Additionally, the holidays can bring out anxiety or trauma-related issues for many people. And poor mental health can actually cause a weakened immune system, leaving you more susceptible to other illnesses. So doing your best to maintain good mental health will help you stay healthy in winter.
There are many things you can do to boost your mental health. If you are working from home, make sure that you have a good work environment, complete with office furniture. This will help you separate your work life from your personal one.
If you suffer from depression, consider going to some type of sauna. These can really help alleviate feelings of stress and lift your mood, plus they’re great for your skin.
Try out whatever coping mechanisms and self care that works for you. You can try grounding, deep breathing techniques, coloring, or any other activity that soothes your mind. And maybe consider getting a flower delivery for yourself, to help boost your mood and brighten your day.
Meditation is a simple yet effective way to boost your mental health. Make a practice of meditating daily, even if it’s just for ten minutes. You can do this in whatever way you are comfortable with and as much or little as you would like.
Sleep health is also very important to stay healthy in winter. It is vital not just to sleep enough, but also to sleep well. Meditating before bed can help you quiet your mind and prepare your brain and body for sleep. Try to turn off any screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime, and stick with relaxing activities before you fall asleep. Additionally, try not to eat within an hour of going to sleep, as this can halt your digestion and worsen your sleep quality.
And, of course, talking to a therapist is never a bad idea. If you feel down, lonely, anxious, or just need someone to talk to, therapy can help greatly. Whether it’s in person or online, seeing a therapist can be a great step towards maintaining good mental health, and to stay healthy in winter.
Invest in your home
Though you may not think about it, making sure that your home is safe and ready for the cold months is vital if you want to stay healthy in winter. So don’t be afraid to invest in your home, and be sure to keep it safe throughout all your celebrations and movie nights.
In terms of safety, there are a few very important things. First, make sure your home is equipped with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor. In case of an emergency, make sure you and your family have a plan, and a backup plan, for how to exit the house safely.
Be careful hanging up your decorations. Don’t put anything flammable near a heat source, and certainly keep all electronics away from water. And always remember to blow out your candles. Always. Unattended flames can quickly grow out of control and turn into a very dangerous situation.
Remember to salt your driveway and sidewalk. Ice is very slippery and dangerous, and you wouldn’t want to break your arm going to get the mail. Keep everything salted when it snows or might freeze, so you avoid slipping.
You should also make sure your home is equipped for the colder months to stay healthy in winter. Consider hiring a heating contractor to make sure your heating system is up to date. After all, it would be terrible if, during the coldest day of the year, your heating stopped working.
Invest money in a good roof. You don’t want any holes or leaks, as in months full of snow, that could cause a lot of damage to your home and your health. Also, make sure that you have good insulation, so you trap in heat and don’t waste money on a high heating bill.
Lastly, you may want to consider cleaning services to keep your house tidy, especially if you have a lot of celebrations. A clean space will be good for your mental health, and make you less likely to trip and hurt yourself.
Just like with your home, keeping your car safe is very important to stay healthy in winter. Make sure your car is up to date on all inspections and repairs, so it is in working order. Consider the weather in your area, and assure that your car can handle whatever conditions usually occur, whether it be heavy rain, snow, or icy roads.
Lastly, drive safely. If you choose to go out to parties or other events that have alcohol, think of a plan to get home. This can be a designated driver, taxi, or rideshare service. Safe driving is important, and it is even more so in the cold months when road conditions can be much more hazardous.
The winter months can be full of hazards to your health, from viruses like the flu and Covid-19 to icy patches on your sidewalk. But, if you follow the guidelines of health officials, be careful, and follow these tips, you should be able to stay healthy in winter and have a great time.