I’ve heard rumours of dumploads of snow, ice and bone chilling temperatures this winter. But as I sit typing this, the sunshine is streaming through my window and so it’s tricky imagining snowdrifts and chattering teeth. But our weather is so mercurial these days 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 season alone, there are things we can all do to boost our mental and physical wellbeing.
Have you had yours? They’re free in the UK if you’re over 65. I had mine last week and it was quick and painless. 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
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 don’t forget 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. Instead, get out and try a new activity – maybe ice skating – or enjoy a bracing walk. 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, enabling us to better fight off those pesky cold and flu viruses.
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 early each year it seems. Lots of people find the whole holiday stressful – family issues, money worries, all tht 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. And remember to read our super useful tips on how to have a stress free Christmas.
If you have an elderly relative or neighbour, why not ensure they see this really helpful advice from Age UK.