With winter fast approaching, now is the time to start boosting our health and defences so that we can come through the colder months feeling as good as we possibly can. Cold weather can really take their toll on our health and make us feel that we are at the mercy of the elements. There are ways though, in which we can make sure that we are all as well prepared as we can be to face whatever the season has to offer.
The turn in the weather may make you feel like curling up and hibernating all the way through till spring. It’s natural to sleep more during the winter and it’s important to eat healthy warming foods and to avoid getting excessively cold, but it can be all too easy to simply turn up the heating, eat lots of heavy, stodgy food and hardly venture out. The problem with this is that, not only are you more likely to pile on the pounds due to lack of exercise and overeating but that your energy levels may take a dive and you may end up feeling as gloomy as the weather.
Should this be the case, it may be that you are suffering from a variation of seasonal affective disorder or S.A.D. for short. Symptoms include a greater need to sleep, a craving for carbs and overeating and it appears to affect more women than men.
If you are suffering from slightly low mood and mild anxiety you may find taking an extract of Hypericum perforatum beneficial but if you are feeling really depressed and unable to cope, a doctor should be consulted.
One of the reasons for this dip in our energy levels during the winter months is the lack of sunlight and vitamin D. On cold, dark days it can be tempting to turn off the alarm and snuggle back down under the duvet. You don’t necessarily need to jump out of bed immediately but why not do a few gentle stretches to help your body get ready for the day ahead.
Try to get out and about at least once every day. A twenty minute walk, preferably taken in the morning, is ideal. There’s nothing quite like a brisk walk on a cold day to help blow away the cobwebs and boost endorphin levels.
Another reason for keeping yourself as fit and active as possible is to help avoid catching one of the many bugs that do the rounds at this time of year. When the weather is dull and the days short, it is difficult for us to get our daily dose of vitamin D from sunlight, making us even more susceptible to respiratory infections. That’s why we should take every opportunity to get out and about as much as possible during the day.
Tempting though it is to fill up on lots of comfort food, try to resist the urge to eat lots of processed, sugary foods. Start your day with a warming bowl of porridge oats to help keep you going till lunchtime. Include foods in your diet that provide you with vitamin D as well as immune boosting vitamins A and C. Consider taking nature C tablets, rich in naturally occurring vitamin C, to help support the immune system. Don’t eat heavy meals late at night so that your digestive system is not struggling to cope with food at the same time as it is preparing to sleep. Take an extract of Echinacea purpurea throughout the cold months to help keep your immune system strong.
Even though the weather may be cold, it’s important to drink lots of water to help replace moisture lost through the skin by way of central heating and cold winds. Avoid caffeine- fuelled drinks such as tea, coffee and fizzy drinks and replace with herbal teas and coffee substitutes such as Bambu.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, wind and cold enter the body at an acupressure point at the base of the neck. It is believed that you can help yourself stay healthy throughout the winter months by making sure the nape of your neck is well covered and warm. Wrapping up will not only stop you from feeling the cold it will also help you avoid catching one!
Irene has worked in the health industry for over 20 years. She writes extensively for health magazines & websites.