10 health-boosting tips for the winter

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There are many reasons our health takes a backseat during the winter months. Work and family schedules can feel pretty overwhelming in the lead up to the holiday season and it’s also the time that flu, winter colds and other bugs put a damper on our mood and physical wellbeing.

There’s no denying that finding ways to remain healthy and strong during the winter can be tricky. The key is to get ahead now to try and prevent winter illness taking over. Take a look at these 10, health-boosting tips from our mental and physical health experts.

1. Eat seasonal fruit and vegetables

Eating seasonally can be a great source of nutrients. Many winter foods are higher in vitamin C, which can help fight seasonal colds and other illnesses, and maintain energy levels.

2. Get enough sleep

Many of us will feel a need to sleep more in the winter. Many researchers agree that this is likely associated with the amount of light we’re exposed to. Aim for around eight hours of quality sleep per night and maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Adequate sleep is essential for a strong immune system.

3. Stay hydrated

We’re much less thirsty in the winter which means we often drink less than during spring and summer. However dehydration can have a negative impact on our overall health and wellbeing. Make an extra effort to stay hydrated this winter with plenty of water, herbal teas and other warm drinks.

4. Eat nutrient rich comfort foods

We often feel hungrier and crave comfort foods in the winter. It’s little wonder because these foods provide a sense of warmth and cosiness. Get creative with your cooking and opt for homemade comfort foods that are high in nutrients such as soups and stews.

5. Take a vitamin D supplement

It’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from the sun and food in the winter so the government suggests taking a vitamin D supplement during this time. Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body – the nutrients needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

6. Get moving and keep active

One of the great benefits of moving and exercising in the winter is that your immune system will work harder to defend itself against the elements and, in turn, helps your body fight off infections. Although it can be tempting to hibernate during the winter months, regular physical exercise is crucial for maintaining overall health.

7. Look after your skin

Cold weather and heating can cause skin to become dry, flaky or crack. This can lead to eczema or other skin conditions. Moisturise your skin with lotion every day and use sunscreen if you’re spending time in direct sunlight.

8. Keep your brain engaged

With shorter and colder days, you may find yourself feeling more irritable, having low energy or even struggling with your daily routine. Keeping your brain engaged will help with motivation, leading you to feel happier and healthier.

9. Stay connected

Research has proven that having a support system and maintaining social interaction can be beneficial in reducing negative mental health symptoms. It’s even more important to be proactive with your connections in the winter when it can be harder to socialise and easier to stay indoors.

10. Be kind to yourself

Winter is a great time to adjust your lifestyle towards relaxation and self-care. There are plenty of obligations that press us for our limited time and energy. Allow yourself to say no to unnecessary commitments and set boundaries that support better mental health.

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Vita is an award-winning, CQC registered healthcare provider