A Guide to Staying Healthy This Winter

13.12.2019

There’s a lot to look forward to in the run up to Christmas and the New Year; especially the cosy nights, crisp mornings, work parties and family dinners. However, something that usually gets lost in all the festive fun is the focus on our health and wellbeing, using the winter season as an excuse to be a little more relaxed with taking care of ourselves.

The cold weather lays a foundation for a weaker immune system, making it much easier for us to catch a cold or flu. Not only this, but many tend to let their diet or healthy eating habits take a back seat, others sacrifice exercise for warm evenings indoors, and some begin to experience depression or anxiousness as a result of frequent drinking. What’s more, once the holiday season is over, it’s much harder to get back into the swing of things if you don’t take care – with a lack of motivation and Christmas blues. 

This is why it is so important, arguably even more important, to take care of yourself through the wintertime as any other season. Our guide covers the main advice you should take to help stay healthy in wintertime, ready for the new year ahead.

Preventing cold and flu

Winter time is otherwise known as cold and flu season and can make us feel pretty miserable. Although you can’t completely eliminate the risk, there are things you can do to minimise your chances of catching a bug. Viruses that cause these illnesses are mainly spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with infected surfaces such as door handles and handrails.

The best ways to reduce the risk of illness include:

  • Washing your hands frequently throughout the day
  • Use hand sanitising gel
  • Keep household and workplace surfaces clean
  • Avoid close contact with an infected person
  • Avoid touching surfaces with your bare hands in public places

Get plenty of sleep

Sleep is important all year round, it keeps our bodies in check and helps us stay happy and productive – but this is especially crucial in the winter time, as our bodies need extra energy to keep warm and extra time to work off those pesky infections. As the days grow shorter, your body will naturally want to sleep longer and adjust to the daylight hours. The best way to banish winter sluggishness is to set a bedtime schedule that allows you to get the rest you need.

Our best advice for your sleep patterns is:

  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday
  • Go outdoors into natural daylight as much as possible throughout the day
  • Exercise in the morning or early evening
  • Destress in whichever way is most effective for you

Limit the festive booze

The Christmas period is a time of celebration, and some of us can take it a bit too far when it comes to nights out, family gatherings and Christmas office parties. As you will be aware, alcohol has a damaging effect on our organs, and can lead to the increase risk of heart and liver problems as well as cancers. But, it can also weaken your immune system, making you more vunerable to catching a cold or flu.

Not only this, frequent and excessive consumption of alcohol changes the chemicals within our brain. The jolly and relaxed feeling you experience when drinking is only short lived – and the negative feelings will take over after it’s worn off, or the following day. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can disrupt the balance of our thoughts, feelings and actions, as well as making us feel dehydrated and groggy the next day or two.

Exercise

We know with the darker nights and cold weather it can be hard to find the motivation to keep active during winter time – but it is one of the most important things to support our physical and mental health.

Winter walks in low sun, or jogging on crisp winter evenings can be enjoyable as long as you dress appropriately. If you’re not up for braving the cold weather, get or use your gym membership which allows you to use the machines from the comfort of a temperature-controlled gym studio. Make sure you allow extra time to warm up, as your joints may be stiffer this time of year. 

Eat and drink more dairy

Making sure your immune system is in tip-top condition is the best way to prevent any illnesses throughout the festive season. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are all great sources of protein, vitamins A and B12 and calcium – which are all things needed to get your body in good condition to fight off the bugs.

Get the flu jab

The flu vaccine can help you stay protected throughout the flu season, significantly reducing the risk of you catching the bug. Flu is an extremely infectious virus which can spread very easily, and can get in the way of enjoying the festive season.

We offer same-day appointment flu jabs at our clinics in Canary Wharf and Orpington, so you don’t have to wait weeks for an appointment.

Get advice from a GP

If you are worried about your health in the winter time or are beginning to experience any negative symptoms, then we can help. We offer same-day private GP appointments at our clinics in Orpington and Canary Wharf, where you can see a professional who will discuss your situation and your options.

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