Winter always brings some extra health challenges with it – cold and flu germs thrive in colder, wetter conditions, your immune system is under more stress, seasonal festivities encourage less healthy balanced diets and exercise, and more sedentary attacks on mountains of roast meats and carbohydrates, with sugary or alcoholic drinks (or both!). This can undermine your general state of health and leave you more prey to infections, illness, even injuries!
Today we’re taking a look at how you can stay healthy this winter!
One of the biggest health challenges you’ll face in the winter is keeping hydrated: seasonal festivities encourage dehydration and break the usual routines you have in place to support your day to day wellness. Dehydration leaves you below par: it can directly cause headaches, fatigue and muscle aches. It also means all the other systems of your body function less well, leaving you open to other problems.
Your solution to the dehydration problem has to work for you, whether it’s rehydration treatment, hot drink regime or high-tech water bottle – the important thing is that it works for you during the disruption to weather and routine that is winter. In general, to support your health, you should avoid making caffeinated or sugary drinks the centre of your rehydration strategy – water, perhaps supplemented with rehydration tablets or sachets is the healthiest option.
It can be harder to stick to an exercise regime in the winter: the reduced hours of daylight and worse weather reduce your opportunities for exercise and your desire to shift from warm, cosy comfort.
It’s worth looking again at how you exercise, and adapting to your needs in the winter. Finding an indoor routine you can do, swapping running for swimming, or simply finding a different kind of motivation and reward system to keep you going during the coldest, darkest months can help to keep you in shape and support your state of health.
Winter brings with it a lot of mental health challenges. Some suffer from isolation and loneliness, others are brought into unwanted proximity with difficult family members. The overcast weather and long nights are also a factor: they can lead to a condition called SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – which causes low mood, fatigue, and is recognised as a form of clinical depression.
There’s no one size fits all cure for the challenges of winter and the holiday season, but it can help to make sure you get outside. The weather might be cold and wet, but if you pick your time carefully, and invest in warm clothes and waterproofs then you can still enjoy the great outdoors. This gives you space, distraction, and the positive mental health benefits of spending time in nature.