As the first snowflake falls, there is a top priority on everyone’s mind: staying healthy during cold weather. And this year, in the midst of a global pandemic, it seems even more important than usual.
If we are often worried about catching viruses that cause colds and the flu, this year we have COVID-19 to add to the list. Considering that, prioritizing both our physical and mental health is a must for the next months, just like staying vigilant of our family’s well being.
While the cold settles in the streets little by little, making concerns grow with it, it is normal that you find yourself meditating on some questions.
Should I take special supplements to boost my immune system?
Should I exercise more often?
How can I boost my physical and mental wellbeing during these next months?
In addition to avoiding risk factors, many preventative health practices can boost your immune system and keep you feeling wholesome. Here is our list of eight tips to stay healthy during cold weather:
1. Follow a healthy diet
We know that Winter makes comfort food feel more tempting than ever. Chicken and waffles, mac and cheese, pizza, cheeseburgers… All these sound like the perfect dish to warm up a movie night at home. However, during this season, it is essential to commit to a diet that boosts your immune system.
During the colder months, the body needs to fight off colds and flu while also getting a reasonable amount of energy to get through the low temperatures. For that purpose, root vegetables (such as carrots, radish, potatoes, and onions) are an excellent choice that allows you to make delicious soups and stews. Fruits rich in vitamin C are also a must (like oranges, guava, kiwi, and cranberries), along with iron-rich foods, such as beans, seafood, quinoa, and red meat. Finally, to boost your immune system, don’t forget to integrate a lot of broccoli, garlic, spinach, ginger, and yogurt into your diet. In short, ingredients rich in vitamins, zinc, iron, omega-3, and antioxidants should be a top priority.
2. Exercise often
Let’s be honest: shorter days and colder weather is the perfect recipe for staying at home, Netflixing & chilling. But the truth is that, in order to stay healthy in winter, it is essential to exercise regularly. And by regularly, we mean about 30 to 60 minutes per day, as the bare minimum. Besides helping your immune system keep you healthy, exercising is also a great tool to reduce stress and brighten up your mood - two things that are also quite important during the colder and darker months.
If you are not accustomed to exercising, the best way to start doing it is to find an activity you enjoy and incorporate it into your routine. From a brisk morning walk around the park to a small cycling tour after work, there are plenty of options for you to incorporate into your daily life. And if you have no desire to head outdoors for your workout, worry not: the online world is full of resources for people like you! From yoga to strength training and aerobics, you can find all sorts of videos and guides across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. There are no excuses not to get moving!
3. Don’t skip doctor visits
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us are avoiding going to the doctor for all sorts of reasons. However, skipping routine screenings and doctor’s appointments can put you at higher risk of becoming ill.
Screenings and occasional check-ups are essential for maintaining overall health and catching problems early when they are most treatable. Moreover, if you suffer from a pre-existing condition (like heart problems, diabetes, or asthma), are pregnant, or have been dealing with symptoms for a while, this is even more important. It can be challenging to address various health care needs during a pandemic, but you should never skip necessary appointments or ignore persistent symptoms.
If you don’t feel comfortable about making an in-person visit to the doctor, you can make an online appointment as an alternative. This year, prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual health care services got more popular and reliable than ever. From specialist doctors to therapists and nutritionists, you can receive all sorts of remote healthcare services without stepping foot in a hospital or clinic. But remember: not all conditions can be treated online. If a doctor asks you to make an in-person visit or exam, you should follow the instructions.
4. Get your flu shot
It is hard to stay healthy during cold weather. Each Winter, millions are diagnosed with the seasonal flu, causing thousands of hospitalizations and flu-related deaths. As the flu virus mutates every year, it is considerably hard to avoid, especially for those with a compromised immune system. However, there is an effective way to deal with this issue: getting a flu shot.
According to Healthline, “the flu shot works by prompting your immune system to produce antibodies. In turn, these antibodies help the body fight off the strains of flu virus present in the vaccine”. While some people may be more prone to getting the flu and related complications than others, everyone should get the vaccine. Especially now that COVID-19 still represents a serious health threat, getting a shot before Winter can prevent many from getting ill and saturating medical services.
If you didn’t get your shot yet, you can schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine at your doctor’s office or in a local clinic. Flu shots are also available in most cities at pharmacies and grocery stores, with no appointment required. So don’t take the risk: it is better to be safe than sorry!
5. Drink plenty of water
While we are all familiar with the importance of staying hydrated during the Summer months, most of us ignore how water is essential during Winter. In fact, against our common belief, it is even more important to stay hydrated in Winter than during the warm months. The reason is quite logical: central heating causes drier interior environments during the Winter, which leads to increased water loss simply from breathing. As a result, you can develop a wide variety of symptoms, including dizziness, headaches, muscle cramping, and nausea.
As such, to stay healthy during cold weather, it is as important to drink plenty of water as it is to exercise and follow a proper diet. According to the Federal Institute of Medicine, women should drink 2.7 liters and men 3.7 liters of water per day. That might sound like a lot, but it’s because food contributes about 20% of the daily water total. Therefore, eating more fruits and vegetables can also help you stay hydrated, just like drinking tea or coffee. Unfortunately, soda and alcoholic drinks with high sugar content don’t make the cut.
6. Get enough sleep
Winter puts many of us in a grumpy and tired mood. Luckily, there are many ways to get around such moods, and one of them is generally easy to practice: get a good night’s sleep. In order to stay healthy during the cold weather, getting undisturbed sleep is vital. According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. However, we all know that every routine is different, just like every metabolism. If you want to know your ideal bedtime, you can use this calculator to find out.
But there is more to sleep than most people realize. To have a good rest, you also should develop a relaxing, consistent bedtime routine. For instance, it is advisable to shut off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Too much exposure to light at night can disrupt the timing of the sleep cycle. Aside from that, you can also upgrade your sleeping routine by taking a warm shower or bath to help you relax, drinking a tea (sleep-inducing ingredients like chamomile or ashwagandha can be great options), and creating a quiet, dark, and slightly cool environment to rest.
7. Practice meditation and relax
The shorter and colder days cause many of us to experience seasonal affective disorder as soon as Winter hits. And this year, with a global pandemic added to the equation, looking after our mental health is more vital than ever. But how can we avoid the winter blues if we can’t go out and spend time with our friends and family?
First of all, you must find ways of keeping yourself stimulated, entertained, and serene. It won’t be easy (especially considering potential lockdowns and all sorts of limitations), but it is achievable, as long as you listen to your body.
Then, you should engage in the sort of activities that help people relax and channel their negativity. As you can assume, meditation and yoga are two great options, just like journaling or painting. Even from home, you can follow YouTube videos with exercises and guided meditation.
And here is a crucial thing to keep in mind: if you sense that your negative feelings are aggravating, don’t keep it to yourself. Let friends and family know when you feel emotionally overwhelmed and, if you find it necessary, seek professional help. To that end, you can find helpful resources on this website that even connects you with a crisis counselor for free, 24/7, in case of emergency.
8. Wash your hands
This tip is probably the advice you have been listening to the most this year, but it is always good to drop a little reminder! Not just because of COVID-19, but because it is one of the most efficient ways to stop the spreading of winter viruses such as influenza and norovirus.
And don’t forget: you have to wash your hands properly, not just sprinkle them with a bit of water. To do it the right way, you must apply a fair amount of soap to produce lather and vigorously rub your hands together for a minimum of 15 seconds. Don’t forget to carefully wash the areas between the fingers and under and around fingernails, where bacteria usually gathers. While soap and water is the best choice for hand washing, a hand sanitizer is a good alternative for when you are unable to use a proper sink. Just make sure your hand sanitizer contains at least 60% ethanol or isopropanol.
Get professional advice
Staying healthy during cold weather is challenging. With all the seasonal viruses, lack of sunlight, and, this year, limitations on our social interactions, getting through Winter might be more arduous than usual. There are many small routine changes you can do by yourself to improve your wellbeing, but, at the end of the day, only professionals can truly help you on this journey.
Whether you want to lose weight, change your eating habits, increase exercise, or find someone to help you deal with a negative mindset, finding the right expert is key. For anything related to your diet, consult a nutritionist. Avoid making crazy changes or taking too many supplements without the guidance of a professional. In the same way, having a personal trainer helping you determine your exercise routine can be of great help. A therapist, a primary medical provider, and even a coach can provide you with the support, information, tools, and techniques you need to reach the best results.
Maybe it is a good time to think about life insurance…
All that’s happened this year made us realize that life truly is unpredictable and difficult to control. One day everything seems like “business as usual” and, suddenly, the world changes radically. Now you are worried about staying healthy during cold weather, getting through the pandemic, and keeping your loved ones as safe and positive as possible.
But how can you face life’s unpredictability and be truly prepared for what’s to come?
Life insurance might be the answer.
After all, the main goal of life insurance is to provide a financial safety net for your loved ones in case something happens to you. It is the most reliable and caring financial tool any adult with dependents can get.
If you are wondering how life insurance could benefit you and what type of plans are more indicated for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! We will be happy to show you what our products can do for you and the people you care about the most.
On the other hand, if you want to apply for our plans and find the perfect coverage for your family, complete this quick form to get a free quote. Our friendly advisors will be delighted to walk you through your options and find the perfect solution.
Written by Diane Taes