Feed yourself well
I’m often asked: what should I eat to stay healthy in winter? And I’d say it’s really important to eat well to keep yourself topped up with energy, vitamins and nutrients. It’s tempting to eat comforting foods but don’t neglect fruit and veg, as these help protect our bodies from illness, which is vital in winter. There are some delicious veg that come into season in the winter and are great for making soups and stews. Try a new recipe!
Stock up on some pantry foods like kidney beans, chickpeas, tinned tomatoes and sweetcorn. Also, get some frozen vegetables so that you can make a healthy meal even if time is short. I aim for at least three vegetables in every meal. Having some vegetarian or vegan meals can help boost your intake of vegetables even more.
Have lots of hot drinks to help keep you warm too, but limit your caffeine intake to no more than four cups a day (400mg). This is based on an average adult weighing 70kg, so if you’re lighter than this, you should have less caffeine. Too much caffeine can affect your sleep and energy levels.
Winter weather often gets a bad rep, especially when trying to exercise. And that’s fair enough when it’s cold and rainy outside. But there are often beautiful days too, so make the most of them and get outside when you can. Exercise is so important for both our physical and mental health, so try and do some activity every day. A winter run or a long walk can feel really good, and exercise keeps you warm! On the days when it’s not so nice outside, why not try a new exercise class, practise yoga in your living room, or a home workout routine?
Make mornings easier
Getting up and out of bed in the winter can be a struggle. To make things easier, you could try an alarm clock lamp which comes on gradually over time to wake you up naturally, mimicking the sunrise. Some people find this improves their quality of sleep and how they feel.
Set your heating to come on before you get up – no one likes to get out of a warm bed into the cold! And have a good breakfast – porridge, for example, is a warming breakfast that will give you energy.
Look after your mental wellbeing
The change in season along with the darker days and colder weather can affect our mood. We might feel a bit blue or more tired than usual. To help with this there are some things you can do every day to help give you a boost.
- Make the most of what natural daylight there is – sit close to the window and get outside for a bit every day.
- Mindfulness can help keep us focused on the present moment and the positives. Enjoy the crunching sound as you walk through fallen leaves or look at your footprints in the snow. Watch the dancing flames and hear the crackling of an open fire, or feel the warmth and relaxation of a hot bath to warm up.
- Sleep is essential. Get a good night’s rest aiming for seven to nine hours per night.
- Eat well and get some exercise – outside if possible.
- Make time for doing things that matter to you – seeing friends and family, or spending time on your hobbies.
For people who have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), winter can be very difficult. If you feel very low, see your GP for advice.
Keep warm and cosy
Enjoy the time you spend indoors by keeping warm and comfy. Embrace the concept of Hygge, which is all about capturing a sense of living well, slowing down, being together and feeling cosy. Keep your home warm – at least 18C (65F) – and enjoy having friends over for a candle-lit supper or a movie night. Close curtains, windows and doors at night to help keep the heat in too.
With a bit of preparation, keeping active and looking after yourself, you can make winter a happy and healthy time of year.
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