How to stay well this winter

*This is a collaborative post*

The colder months are upon us and unfortunately along with them often comes the germ season. These next few weeks are often the time that we can start to feel under the weather, take time off work and have to miss out on fun with our friends and our families. Whilst we cannot completely prevent you from falling ill, we can offer you a few suggestions of how to avoid it. Here are a few ideas for how to stay well this winter, and we hope that every one of you manages to dodge those pesky germs! 

Eat healthily

At this time of year it is easy to let all of your good eating habits fall into decline. The darker, colder nights have many of us craving comfort food and snacking on sugary foods as we huddle up inside. 

Make an effort to prepare healthy meals for yourself this winter. It helps to meal plan in advance in order to help you to stick to this. Ensure that you carry out your food shopping when you are not hungry and make sure that you have enough food to cover the whole week. Otherwise it is all too easy to get to the last day before you shop again and order a takeaway.

Pay attention to the colours of your food. The more colourful it is, the more fruit and vegetables you are likely to be packing in. Aim to eat a good variety of them over the course of each week and take care to up your green leafy vegetable intake. 

Get outside

When it is cold and wet, the last thing that we feel like doing is getting outside. Yet it will make a huge difference to both your physical and mental health so do make the effort to keep getting outdoors throughout the colder months.

Wrap up warm and head to see pretty Christmas lights, meander through the forest trails, walk your dog or simply walk to work or your local shops every once in a while. You will feel the benefits of the fresh air, get a much needed vitamin D boost and you know that the exercise will do you good. 

Exercise regularly

Aim to get some cardiovascular exercise in each and every week. By doing this you will be boosting your immune system and helping it to be stronger in the event that it needs to fight off viruses or bacteria. 

If you go to the gym already, then do not let the darker mornings or evenings put you off. Remind yourself how good it is for you and how great you feel after a workout. 

If gyms are not for you and you have yet to find something that you can do to exercise regularly, have a look around at classes and clubs that are local to you. Ask your friends whether they fancy taking up a new sport with you or get out and pound the pavement running a few times each week. 

Have a few early nights

If ever there was a time of year where you end up burning the candle at both ends, it is now. It’s great fun to get out and about with family and friends enjoying the festive season, so say yes to those invitations but ensure that you balance the late nights out. You need to make sure that on those evenings when you are home, you try to grab a few early nights. 

You need plenty of sleep to refresh and restore your body and give it a chance to fight off any bugs. Try to make it a habit to go to bed an hour early at least once a week to ensure that you can catch up on any missed sleep and keep your body firing on all cylinders. 

Wash your hands

Germs are often passed on through people touching various surfaces when they are poorly and out and about. If you then touch the same surfaces and ingest those germs, you are likely to get ill too. 

The best way to prevent this from happening is to wash your hands frequently. Get into the habit of washing them whenever you have been out and certainly before eating. Soap and warm water is always the most effective way to kill germs, but use a hand sanitiser if you cannot wash with soap as it will still kill many germs off for you. 

Drink plenty of water

This one always stands us in good stead, we know that drinking plenty of water is good for us. The trouble with the colder days is that we find ourselves reaching to put the kettle on and making hot drinks to warm us up more and more. On top of this, we are out and about more and probably drinking more alcohol than at other times during the year which again offsets that water intake. 

There are so many benefits of drinking water, from helping to maintain your blood pressure to lubricating your joints, this one really is not something that we can understate. It is an easy way for you to give your health a boost with very little effort. The key is to prioritise it and make it a habit to always have a drink nearby so that you are sipping all throughout the day.

Get together with friends and family

There is evidence that our mental health and loneliness can have a direct impact on our physical wellbeing and our bodies’ abilities to fight off illnesses. As such, it seems like a great reason to get together with friends and family.

This is about being social and enjoying yourself, so take the time to book in a few fun catch ups with the people that you love most and enjoy their company. 

Make sure that the events are things that you enjoy, as you do not want to be getting those stress levels rising and having needless late nights doing things that you do not even want to do. If huge parties are not your thing, politely decline and suggest a smaller catch up with them at another time. 

Stock up in advance

Whilst you do not want to tempt fate, it does help to be prepared and stock up in advance. It would be wonderful to get through the next few months without so much as a sniffle, but few of us will manage to do that so do yourself a favour and get some supplies in. They should help you to reduce the ill effects of your illness and feel back to your normal self more quickly

Along with regular painkillers, you might like to get some cold and flu supplies in, echinacea, nasal spray, dioralyte and throat pastilles. You could grab them within your regular shopping or order online from the comfort of your own home from this pharmacy

Just relax

How simple is this one to do? It is also a lovely one to tick off your list as you know you will enjoy every second of it!

When we relax we can keep our stress hormones down, which prevents them from getting in the way of other cells in our bodies that are there to fight infections. There really is a good reason for you to curl up with a good book, take in a feel-good movie or catch up with friends. 

Take the time to wind down at least once a day and indulge yourself by doing something that you enjoy and helps you to relax.