Winter is inevitable, yet most of us are shocked and disappointed when it rolls around. Here are some tips to help you make this winter a cosy and enjoyable one.

Wearing layers of clothes, wanting to sleep in longer and giving in to the temptation to eat more carbs than usual are some of the behaviours we have come to associate with winter. We end up feeling lethargic, we gain weight and we suffer through those unwelcome sniffles and sore throats – all typical seasonal side effects that we then try to shake off once spring starts.

This year, do something different. Instead of seeing winter as a time of year that takes you off track, use it as a time to continue practising your health and self-care routine to keep you energised and productive.

When it comes to optimising health, getting back to the basics is always the key. There is no way around the basics because they are the cornerstone of health even though so many of us neglect them.

Eat good, live good

Hearty meals are part of winter’s appeal – and they won’t necessarily result in you gaining weight. That’s because soups, curries and other similar meals are filling, enjoyable and nourishing.

Salads may be less appealing at this time of year, but you still need to consume your fruits and vegetables in a season-appropriate way.

As with other habits, ensuring that you’re prepared for your meals means you’ll be less likely to resort to takeaways.

Prioritise sleep

Your body can only work optimally if you ensure that your sleep is a top priority. Dr Rachel Ziegler told the Mayo Clinic that keeping a sleep diary is something that can help you track what’s actually going on with your sleep so you can find the best way to improve it. She also recommends:

  • Minimising sound and light before and during sleep time
  • Making your bedroom cooler which promotes good sleep
  • Having a sleep routine that you maintain
  • Managing stress and having a night-time routine that helps you unwind
  • Getting out of bed if you’re not falling asleep

Get moving

Time in bed can seem like a treat on those extra chilly mornings, but the truth is, you need to get out of bed. Not only is regular exercise necessary for you to be at your best, it also regulates your mood by fighting feelings of depression that often come with the winter season.

If you feel that going for a run or going to the gym is too much for you in the cold, try doing home workouts: they’ll warm you up as well as keep you fit.

Click here to read a previous InHealth article about walking and how you can incorporate more of it into your life.

Stock Up

Comfort is a big part of preparing for winter. Stay snug and healthy by stocking up on winter essentials such as:

  • cough mixtures, throat lozenges and any other over-the-counter medication you may need
  • electric blankets, hot water bottles and heaters – and make sure they are in good working order

If you’re affected by electricity load shedding, have a plan in place to keep warm during outages.

Finally, remember to manage your stress levels. Increased stress lowers your immunity and can make you more vulnerable to getting ill. Check out our article on the vagus nerve for some new ideas on how to calm your nervous system and combat stress.

Vaccination Action

Just because we are no longer locked down, doesn’t mean that colds, flu and COVID-19 are no longer a concern. This is a good time to consider getting vaccinated if you haven’t already done so, or, in the case of COVID-19, consider getting a booster shot.

It’s also important to keep up all the good habits you learnt during the pandemic, such as washing or sanitising your hands regularly, coughing into your elbow and practising social distancing, especially when you’re feeling fluey.

Click here to get more information on high-risk groups of people that should definitely consider getting a flu shot.