Your winter survival guide
Some simple daily steps can keep you strong, healthy and feeling good over these colder months.
Nutritious food, staying hydrated, keeping on the move and a good night’s sleep can keep you in tip-top condition.
Here are our top tips for a winter of wellness:
Your winter diet
Digging into comfort foods may be a tempting idea – but according to the Dietitians Association of Australia, we can put on as much as 5kg during winter.
Combat this with seasonal fruits and vegetables like apples, oranges, pears, mandarins, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, celeriac, kale, mushrooms and parsnips.
Association spokeswoman Nicole Dynan recommends soups that are nutritious and low in calories.
“Think laksa soup with Asian greens, noodles and light coconut milk, or carrot and lentil soup topped with natural yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice, or minestrone, a family favourite combining vegetables, legumes and pasta,” Nicole recommends.
Start your day with warming porridge or oats packed with fibre and topped with fruit.
Your winter exercise
Layer your clothing so you can peel off as you warm up. Choose fabrics that keep sweat away from your skin.
If you run or walk while it’s dark, wear something bright or reflective and stay motivated by joining an exercise group or working out with a friend.
“When you exercise with other people there is a higher level of accountability,” says Alex Lawrence of Exercise and Sports Science Australia.
So if you wake up and it’s a cold and rainy morning, knowing a friend is waiting for you to walk gives you that extra motivation to get up instead of staying in bed.”
Your winter emotional health
The “winter blues” can leave you feeling sluggish and low in energy.
Swinburne Professor of Psychology Greg Murray recommends getting at least an hour of natural light each day, preferably in the morning.
Natural light boosts vitamin D, which may help in the prevention of depression.
And a Swiss study found natural light boosts our productivity and energy, too.
Maintain your social life and exercise but be kind to yourself too and accept that you may not keep up your usual pace for a while.
- Related: How to get your Vitamin D fix
Your immune system in winter
A strong immune system will help you resist winter infections, like colds or flu.
Give your immunity a hand by getting plenty of sleep, because lack of sleep triggers stress hormones, like cortisol, that upset the immune system.
A Sleep Health Foundation study estimates 7.4 million Australians don’t get enough shut eye, but good sleep hygiene can help.
- Leave electronic devices out of your bedroom and stop using them an hour before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks and cigarettes a few hours before bed.
- Wind down before bed by doing something that relaxes you.
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and not too hot or cold.
Your winter skin
Chilly winter winds and ramping up the indoor heating system have a drying effect on our skin, leading to itching, and redness.
Drink plenty of water to keep skin hydrated and avoid having your shower or bath too hot – as tempting as it might be on a cold morning.
Hot showers and baths strip skin of natural oils and exacerbate dryness.
Moisturise after your shower or bath – within about three minutes while skin is still damp.
During winter, dead skin cells build up too so gently exfoliate your body and face a couple of times a week to keep skin smooth.
Written by Sarah Marinos.