The winter season can be a challenging time for us to stay healthy. Days are shorter, the temperature drops, and we spend more time indoors breathing dry, recirculated air. Here are seven proven tips to help you stay healthy so you can enjoy and share this special time of year with family and friends.
Get a flu shot. When you get an influenza vaccination you can reduce the risk of flu illness by half or even more. It can also help to reduce the effects of illness if you do get sick. November is a perfect time to get your flu shot – just before the flu season begins to peak.
Stay active. Keep in touch with friends and family even though the weather might pose a challenge. Join a book club or a hobby group. Studies have shown that people who are lonely produce fewer antibodies than those who are socially active. You also want to make sure you keep moving – moderate exercise like walking an hour each day can really help you boost your immune system and keep you cold and flu-free.
Wash your hands often. When we pay close attention to good hand hygiene and wash our hands at least five times a day we can protect ourselves (and others) from catching or transmitting viruses. Developing a habit of washing frequently with soap and water every day is a very easy way to stay healthy, not only during winter but year-round.
Get enough sleep. If your body is tired, your immune system won’t be able to keep up and protect you from illness and infection. Research suggests at least eight hours of sleep each night is optimal to help you protect your health.
Watch what you eat and drink. Sugary, high-fat comfort foods and beverages are part of the winter and holiday season, but they can affect your blood sugar levels, your moods, and energy levels. Nutrient-rich foods like vegetables and whole grains are loaded with vitamins and protein. It is also very important that you stay properly hydrated and choose water over sugary drinks.
Get outside and get some sun. Even if it’s cold, bundle up and get outside for some fresh air and sunlight, which is essential to help our bodies produce vitamin D. In the northern half of the U.S. the sun’s rays may be too weak to offer this benefit, so ask your doctor if you can take a multivitamin supplement with vitamin D to boost your energy and your mood.
Moisturize your skin and the air. Wintertime can be harsh on our skin and our lungs. The air is drier than usual and you can help protect your skin and lips by applying moisturizer and lip balm. The air inside can also affect our health – using a simple air humidifier can alleviate discomfort caused by dry nasal passages.
In addition, try to minimize stressful activities and stress in general, which has the effect of making us more susceptible to illness. Make sure to find the time to take care of yourself – especially if you are a caregiver. Winter can pose health challenges, but if you’re prepared and incorporate these healthy living tips into your daily routine you’ll make the most of what is a very special time of the year.