Cold weather can be a challenging time to stay healthy. With increasingly unpredictable weather, it is important to think about the precautions you can take.
A great way to stop viruses from spreading and avoid catching a dreaded cold or flu is to make sure that you are washing your hands. Your hands harvest germs and spread them from surface to surface and from human to human. Avoid touching your face and rubbing your eyes as the flu often enters the body via your eyes.
The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against the unpredictable virus. The flu can be very unpleasant and last for a week, some symptoms which differ from a common cold are abrupt cold symptoms such as sore throat and blocked or runny nose, fever, muscle aches and weakness and shivering and chills. Further complications that can arise from the Flu virus are pneumonia, encephalitis, asthma, diabetes or even heart failure. If you are eligible for an NHS free flu jab you can get this at your local GP or pharmacy. For those who are not eligible you can opt for a private vaccination service which is offered by pharmacies and clinics such as Boots and Lloyd’s Pharmacy.
It may sound simple but staying warm can prevent illness. Some tips to keep yourself and your home warm are to have at least one hot meal a day, regularly drink hot drinks, close your curtains at dusk and keep doors closed to block out draughts. Try to keep your bedroom at 18C all night and keep your bedroom window shut, this will also improve your sleep as you will not get too hot or cold and wake up.
The lack of sunlight can make many feel tired and less motivated. Our sleep patterns become disrupted and our brains produce more of a hormone called melatonin which makes us sleepy. Trying to banish the winter tiredness by going for a walk can be difficult when it’s cold outside. So, wrap up warm and enjoy the daylight and exercise as this will increase your energy levels. Getting a good night’s sleep is key, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and make sure your sleeping environment is relaxing.
Mince pies, selection box chocolates and roast dinners are what fill Christmas with joy, however, they are not the healthiest of foods and will not help fight off any colds or flu. Many of us forget to make sure we are eating our 5 a day during the winter period and instead snack on high-fat foods with a low nutritional value which can cause weight gain. Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, squash, carrots and oranges are all delicious during the winter and can be made in a hearty winter warmer soup. A warm bowl of porridge is a perfect way to start your morning and will provide you with much-needed energy to tackle the day.
Another way to stay healthy this winter is to keep active. Being busy with social plans, work events, buying and wrapping gifts can distract you from regular workout patterns or gym classes. It is important to remain focused on your healthy habits to help ward off any illnesses. Planning your exercise for the week will help you stay motivated and more likely to stick to your routine. Working out with a friend or partner can also encourage you even on cold winter evenings.
Groups such as younger children, pregnant women and over 65’s are at risk of catching the illness in the winter and colder months. If you know any vulnerable people whether it’s your neighbour, friend or family member check on them to make sure they are safe. Make sure they are warm enough during the day and night. To avoid any unnecessary trips to the supermarket in the cold weather make sure that there is a stock of food and medicines in their cupboards. This can also decrease the risk of slipping or getting injured on the icy pavements.
Whether it is are big or small changes, every effort counts. It’s important to take a moment and think of some changes you can make to your daily routine to ensure you stay fit and healthy through the winter months.