It’s that time of year again where we have the heater blasting, enjoy homemade hot soups and wait for the return of summer. Winter often feels like it drags on and on, and even though 2020 is behind us, the COVID-19 outbreak still seems to lurk amongst the community. The winter months call for us to be snug in front of the fire with a good book, a cup of tea and in our comfiest of clothes.
The idea of taking the best care of your health in the cooler months can often be unmotivating, and as a result, we procrastinate. However, on the flip side, winter is also a great opportunity for us to implement some healthy habits in preparation for the warmer months that follow.
They say it takes an average of 66 days for a new habit to become part of your routine, so here are our top eight tips for staying healthy this winter. Let’s think about it, if you feel a little bit unmotivated, now is the perfect time to implement a new habit, and in 66 days, before we know it, winter will be over.
Good sleep is the foundation for good health and a happier frame of mind. Research shows that almost one-third of us drag ourselves out of bed each morning feeling tired and heavy. Feeling tired throws our hunger hormones around, making us want to reach for less healthy food choices, not to mention a decrease in our memory function and impacting our mood.
For better sleep, try using a comfortable pillow that supports you. Consider limiting your alcohol and caffeine intake before bed, too, as well as limiting screen usage. Reading a book, listening to relaxing music or practising meditation can be a wonderful way to help put you in a relaxed and sleepy state at the end of the day.
2. Mindful Eating
The colder months often make us reach for heavy, whole-hearted foods as we look to keep warm. Winter is a great time to rethink your meal sizes. Whilst we love rice, pasta, and potatoes, it can be easy to overserve these, so be mindful of your portion sizes.
There are also many wonderful winter fruits in season like oranges, kiwi fruit, grapefruits and mandarins, plus they are all rich in vitamin C to boost our immunity. Winter veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and pumpkin call for hearty winter soups, which is a great way to get in those extra nutrients.
3. Get Active
Winter can be a challenging season to get motivated and exercise, particularly outside. Joining a gym can be a great way to move your body while also making some new friends. Gyms often have group fitness classes, and you may want to try something new like yoga, tai chi or Pilates. An indoor pool can offer some great water aerobic classes, which are low impact too. Taking a walk during the day can be very beneficial to your health, but make sure you rug up! Or, if you prefer to stay in the comfort of your own home, some simple stretching can keep those muscles strong and flexible.
4. Stay Connected
Although those chilly days and icy nights aren’t always inviting to head out and socialize, staying connected to those we love most is vital for our mental health. If you’re struggling to get motivated to head out and catch up with a neighbour, friend or relative, why not do it from home? Try phoning a friend or relative 1-2 times a week, or if you’re tech-savvy have a video call.
If you like to mix things up, you can play some online card games together. Trickster cards (https://www.trickstercards.com) is a fantastic website where you can play a variety of card games, and they have a video call option too, so you can play live with friends.
5. Laugh more
They say laughter is the best medicine and is it not? Laughing can help us relax and boost those endorphins. Additionally, laughing helps us increase our vagal tone and strengthen the vagus nerve. Winter is the perfect season to catch up on those TV shows or movies you’ve been holding off watching. Finding a TV show that brings you laughter and enjoyment will send away those winter blues, and is vital for our health.
Drinking lots of water and staying hydrated during the winter months is extremely important to boost your immune system and support your body needs to fight off infections. Drinking an adequate amount of water also hydrates your skin from the inside out. To help you stay hydrated each day, you may want to set a goal for yourself and keep tabs on this throughout the day. Using a 1.5-litre water bottle and filling it up a few times a day can help you track and reach your daily water intake goal.
7. Stress Less
Did you know that a little bit of stress is good for us? However, chronic stress can compromise our immune system. There’s nothing worse than when you feel stress, and someone says ‘just relax,’ because that’s much easier said than done. The good news is that some simple techniques like practising 10 minutes of meditation and 10 minutes of deep breathing per day can promote the ‘relaxation response’ where our bodies stop releasing stress hormones, our heart rate slows, our breathing deepens, and we begin to feel calm.
8. Try a new hobby
Maybe you’ve wanted to try something new for a while? Activities such as arts and crafts, golf, croquet, knitting, reading, sewing, baking, puzzles, gardening, learning to use social media etc., to name a few! This can get your mind stimulated, which shows many health benefits, such as reducing stress, feeling happier, and even boosting memory retention.
Maintaining good health is extra important throughout the winter months. Don’t forget to keep in touch with your doctor for regular health check-ups. If any of these tips help you this winter, please let us know, as we would love to reshare your experiences.