The end of the year can be a busy time. On top of that, the seasons are changing which can affect your physical and mental health. You can’t forget to take care of yourself! With shorter days and colder weather coming, it’s important to continue healthy habits. And that means doing more than just bundling up. Here are some ways to stay healthy during cold weather:
- Wash your hands often. Winter is peak season for contagious illnesses, such as the cold and flu. The most effective way to remove and avoid the spread of illness-causing germs is to wash your hands frequently. When washing your hands, remember to get a good lather of soap on your hands and scrub for at least 20 seconds with warm water.
- Eat for immunity. As part of your plan to stay well and avoid the cold and flu this winter, it’s important to eat healthy foods that support your immune system. Foods that are good for the immune system are foods that are high in antioxidants; such as mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, peas, and citrus fruits.
- Keep your body moving! The winter months can be a challenging time to stick to your exercise routine. Holiday parties and gatherings can leave you feeling drained. The cold weather can also be a deterrent to getting outside for some exercise. To stay active during the winter, try hitting the gym or working out at home. It’s important to exercise regularly, even if only for 15 minutes a day!
- Get enough rest. Sleep is key to keeping your energy up and maintaining a good immune system. You should get enough sleep to allow your body to recover and reenergize. For the best results, have a regular sleep schedule and stick to it. This will help your body to know when it’s time to sleep and make it easier to get the rest you need.
- Keep stress to a minimum. Studies have linked high stress levels to making a person more susceptible to catching colds and flu. Minimize your stress by working reasonable hours at your job. Aim for at least one night per week to spend with friends and family.
- Stay connected. Socializing helps strengthen your immune system by staying active you reduce your stress levels. Avoid the temptation of cuddling up with your blanket. See friends, enjoy the local night life, even dress warm and go for a walk with your family.
- Get some sun. While the availability of sunlight is restricted during the winter months, it’s important to spend some time outdoors even when it’s cold. Sunlight has been shown to help improve your mood by boosting the release of a hormone called serotonin. Exposure to sunlight is especially important to those suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression.
- Maintain good skin health. Cold weather can cause havoc on your skin, causing dryness, flaking, cracking, and in some cases, eczema. To keep your skin healthy through the winter, be sure to drink plenty of water, hydrate your skin with moisturizer, and use sunscreen whenever you’re out during the day. Exposure to the sun’s rays, even in the winter, can still have damaging effects on your skin.
Despite your best efforts, you still can feel like you’re “coming down with something.”
Some things you can do to help your body recover more quickly:
- Eliminate dairy products.
- Eliminate alcohol.
- Eliminate grains (bread, rice, pasta, etc.).
- Boost your Vitamin C intake when you initially feel something coming on.
- Boost your intake of Zinc.
- Increase the amount of water you drink (even more than normal!).
- Eat less food as this will give your body a much-needed rest from digestion and give it a chance to concentrate on fighting off potential illness.
- Add herbs like Echinacea, Goldenseal and Grapefruit Seed Extract to your diet.
- Get more rest than normal. If you normally get 6 hours of sleep a night, try increasing it to 7 or 8.
These are just some of the simple things you can do to strengthen your body’s immune system, so that you can stay healthy and well during the winter season!