Depending on where you live, winter can be an incredibly challenging time. It may be fun for the first month or two, but once the holidays pass and the reality of nearly three months of cold, snow, and gray skies set in, you’ll probably find yourself tiring of it quickly. Here are our tips to make it through the season:
1. Stay Active
When it’s cold outside, it can be a struggle want to get out of bed, let alone go outside and exercise. Yet research shows that exercise is an excellent way to boost your immune system naturally and therefore help your body stay healthy in the wake of cold and flu season. Additionally, exercise helps decrease your stress levels, which can aid your body if it is fighting off an infection.
If you typically exercise outside, consider getting a gym membership for this time of year so that you don’t have the cold to use as an excuse. You could also use this time to try out some group exercise classes with your friends and family! Making activity a social event will help get you out of the house in freezing weather.
3. Eat Right and Get Enough Sleep
Most winter holidays involve eating large, elaborate meals made up of comfort foods. While those meals are certainly fine to enjoy in moderation, it’s important to make sure that you are watching your consumption of fats and sugars just like any other time of year. Healthy foods like fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that will support your immune system and keep you from feeling sluggish.
Another important aspect of supporting your immune system is getting enough sleep. If you aren’t sleeping enough, you aren’t giving your body time to rest and restore itself, which can leave you vulnerable to infections and illnesses. So get to bed early and make sure you get your full eight hours!
4. Watch Out for Germs
We’ll keep this one short. Make sure that you’re washing your hands properly and regularly—we have a whole blog post about it! Stay home from the office if you’re sick and encourage your coworkers to do the same. Finally, if you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, drive yourself to the nearest pharmacy and get vaccinated!
5. Be Aware of Your Mental Health
It’s easy to forget that taking care of your mental health is a vital part of staying healthy, and it’s especially important to prioritize during winter. As many as 6 percent of people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is “a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons.” It typically affects people starting in Fall and bleeding into winter and can lead to a wide variety of symptoms, including low energy, depression, trouble sleeping, changes in weight or appetite, and difficulty concentrating.e
If you feel like you may be experiencing SAD, speak with your doctor about treatment options. Light therapy, for example, may be helpful for people suffering with less severe cases. If your symptoms are more intense, your health provider may suggest medication or therapy.