Seasonal Wellbeing: How To Stay Healthy This Winter

The Met Office is predicting sleet, frost, fog, colder temperatures – perhaps even a smattering of snow – for this December. I believe the last time we had any of the latter in any quantity was 2010. Our weather is so mercurial these days (as I type this the sun is shining and the sky a clear blue) that anything is possible. So best to be prepared. Not just with warm clothing, but with a positive attitude to keeping active and healthy throughout the upcoming few months.

Winter can be a stressful and demanding time of year no matter how you spend it. Whether with friends and family, stuck in the office, or getting through the festive season alone, there are things we can all do to boost our mental and physical wellbeing.

Staying Healthy This Winter
Flu Jab

Have you had yours? Flu jabs are free in the UK if you’re over 50. It’s likely you can also get the coronavirus (COVID-19) seasonal booster at the same. Doctors recommend having your flu jab before the end of November, but there’s still time to make an appointment with your surgery.

We can all think of better things to do with our time than coping with a fever, chills, runny nose, sore throat, hacking cough, headaches, aching muscles and being stuck in bed feeling ghastly for at least two days. So the flu jab is well worth doing and may save you from all those horrible flu symptoms.

Banishing winter tiredness 

Lots of us feel more tired and a bit sluggish during the Winter. This is due to the lack of sunlight, which disrupts our sleep and waking cycles. It really helps to get outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible – just put on your wet weather gear and go for it! Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – it seems that a regular routine improves your quality of sleep. Stress also makes us feel tired, so take time to consciously relax. A few minutes meditation every day, a power nap, a luxuriating soak in a warm bath, taking Vitamin D – all of these things can be beneficial.

Keep eating healthily 

Seasonal Wellbeing: How To Stay Healthy This Winter Try this warming soup recipe on the Annabel&Grace website

When winter sets in, it can be tempting to fill up on fatty comfort food. It’s important to maintain your healthy diet when the temperatures dip. So remember your daily five portions of fresh fruit and veg. Craving sugar? A small handful of raisins or a juicy satsuma will do the trick just as well as a calorific cake. Winter vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, swede and celeriac can be roasted, mashed or made into creamy (and filling) soups. For example this Sweet Potato, Sumac and Pomegranate recipe.

The cold isn’t a good enough excuse to stay in

Of course it’s easier to put your feet up and become glued to endless boxsets. But we all need fresh air. Living in the UK we’re used to inclement weather – so throw on suitable clothes and get out there! You’ll be glad you did. Regular exercise helps control your weight, boost your immune system, and is a good way to break the tension that can build if we are constantly cooped up inside the house. Physical activity releases the feel-good chemicals – endorphins – which help you relax and feel happy. Make a commitment to, for example, walk or cycle more and you’ll benefit from reduced anxiety, decreased depression and improved self-esteem. Regular exercise can also boost our immune systems, no bad thing with Covid still around.

Have a clear out

How long is it since you checked your medicine cabinet for outdated products? I did this the other day and had to chuck about 80% of what was there. With Winter coming up, this is a sensible thing to do as who feels like trekking to the chemist when you wake up feeling rotten?

Talk about your feelings

The old adage that “a problem shared is a problem halved” really is worth considering. The build up to Christmas begins earlier each year it seems. We hardly had time to say goodbye to Summer before the supermarket shelves were blasting out merry tunes (gosh doesn’t that make you feel sorry for the poor staff who have to listen to that the entire day).

Lots of us find the whole holiday season stressful – family issues, money worries, all that rushing around and keeping everyone happy. Well if you’re finding it all a bit much, take some time to chat with a trusted family member, friend or even a work colleague. Talking through your problems will help you to manage your concerns, prioritise and cheer you up.

If you have an elderly relative or neighbour, why not ensure they see this really helpful advice from Age UK.