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WINTER WELLNESS: TEN TIPS FOR STAYING HEALTHY IN WINTER

Updated: Feb 26

The days are colder, the air is crisp, and the wind is icy first thing in the morning. The sun is setting sooner and rising a little later too. The signs are all there as we bundle up under blankets and layer on more clothes; winter is right around the corner, and it is coming in quickly. As the seasons change, the shorter days and colder weather can affect your physical and mental wellbeing.

We assure you, it's not just you: There truly is something about the change of season that can get you out of sorts. The colder temps (depending on where you live, anyway) and fewer daylight hours make it hard to stick to your usual workout routine and can put you in a funk. "When your body does not have the sunlight, it's not uncommon to feel depressed or down or sluggish," says Randell Wexler, MD, vice-chair of clinical affairs for family medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Gahanna.

Dr. Wexler says to think of a dog. In the winter, when the sun goes down at 6 p.m., the dog might lie down to sleep shortly after. That same dog may not sleep until 8 p.m. in the summer months when the sun stays out later. Humans respond to the daylight cycle, too. But since you likely don't have the luxury to sleep at 6 p.m., you power through and are left dealing with an "increased risk of depression, lethargy, and feeling sad or blue in the wintertime," Wexler says.

Some people will feel more down than their usual selves. In contrast, a small percentage of people will experience winter depression, known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression. Yes, that means the winter blues are a real thing!

You need to take good care of yourself and maintain your body's wellness this winter, especially since cold and flu season coincides with the winter months. In this newsletter, we will share some winter wellness tips to help you stay healthy.


Feet by the fire

1) GET OUTSIDE OFTEN

It is easy to stay indoors during the cold months and avoid venturing out. However, staying indoors for days on end isn't doing you any good, even though you feel warmer. Staying indoors with nothing but artificial heat drying out the air and with sniffing companions for company is a recipe for getting sick.

Choose a day when the sky is blue and clear, and it's not raining. Dress warmly, and step out and feel that winter sunshine on your face. You may be surprised to find that you feel warmer sitting in the sun outside than hiding away from the cold inside.

The fresh air is good for you. Try and get outside as often as possible.


2) KEEP UP THE EXERCISE

Just because your summer body is hiding under layers of clothes during the winter doesn't mean you should skimp out on the workout. It is challenging to stay motivated when it's cold outside, but after a good session at the gym or even a run, you will not only feel warmer, but all those happy hormones will leave you feeling good too!

Keeping up with the physical exercise keeps your body in shape and also helps stimulate your immune system. It can help prevent getting any colds and flu if your body is fighting fit.

Join a wellness program for motivation and get some friends together so you can keep up a fitness routine as a group. The more inspiration through the winter months, the better. When joining a wellness program, you will also enjoy several rewards, helping you reach your fitness goals.


3) EAT HEALTHILY

As part of your efforts to stay well and avoid the cold and flu this winter, it's important to eat healthy foods that support your immune system, including mushrooms, garlic, citrus fruits, herbs and spices, probiotics, prebiotics, and chicken soup.

Wrapping up in winter woollies is one way to keep your body warm, but certain foods can also help by warming you up from the inside. We are naturally drawn to hot soups and beverages when it's cold outside; some foods even stimulate heat production more than others. Pungent ingredients – like spicy ginger, chilli, pepper, and garlic – can aid circulation and generate warmth.


4) PROTECT YOUR SKIN

Cold, dry air quickly sucks moisture from your skin. Combine that with a blasting of hot air from a central heating unit or heaters and some scratchy winter fabric, and your skin can end up being dry, itchy, and scaly.

To keep moisture locked into your skin, use a heavy oil-based moisturizer and lather it on every time you bathe or shower. Drink plenty of water and eat foods like berries, which are high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon, walnuts, or take omega-3 supplements), and consider using a humidifier to help add moisture to the air.

5) VITAMIN D INTAKE

Do you seem to get every cold, flu, or stomach bug doing the rounds? Perhaps you are just generally feeling a bit blue and under the weather. Both our immune system and mood rely on vitamin D. Because vitamin D is made in our bodies after exposure to the sun, it is not uncommon for people to become vitamin D deficient during the winter months. Vitamin D also helps ensure that our bodies absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus for building bone.

Get out for a short walk every day to help you keep your vitamin D levels topped up.

6) KEEP A REGULAR SLEEP SCHEDULE

Our sleep-wake cycle is regulated by a hormone called melatonin, which is released in response to light. Exposure to too much light at night - such as that emitted from computer screens, TV screens, or electronic devices - inhibits the release of melatonin which decreases our sleep quality and quantity. This results in us feeling sluggish and tired the next day.

Regardless of the season, try to get up and go to bed at the same time every day and restrict screen time at night. Aim for at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night. A good sleep cycle will have a positive effect on your mood and ability to carry out your daily tasks. It is also vital for good health.

7) STOP COLDS AND FLU QUICKLY

We have endured the pandemic, and while COVID-19 isn't quite over it, not every tickle in the throat is the coronavirus. The common cold and the winter flu virus exist and affect people as the cold weather settles in. If your throat has become a bit sore or scratchy, or perhaps your nose or eyes are starting to feel a bit congested, get on top of the early symptoms right away and try to fight the virus before it becomes worse.

Keep some natural remedies at home to take at the first sign of a cold or flu. Olive leaf, garlic, echinacea, elderberry, vitamin C, and zinc may help to boost your immunity and increase your resistance to those nasty winter viruses.

If you struggle to maintain your intake of fruits and vegetables, try some fresh cold-pressed juices with ginger, turmeric, and orange to boost your immunity.


8) HONOUR YOUR HEART

Extreme cold coupled with unaccustomed exertion is bad for your heart. Studies have shown that heart attack rates increase as temperatures decrease, and normally sedentary people who subject themselves to intense bursts of activity are more at risk of heart attacks or a stroke.

While fitness is excellent, remember too much of a good thing can also be harmful. So, take it easy and warm up properly before engaging in physical exercise. Take any chest pain seriously. Seek medical help immediately if you feel discomfort, chest tightening, or pain in the chest, upper arm or neck area. Most heart attacks start with mild symptoms initially, so it is crucial to get any symptoms of chest pain checked out.

9) ALLEVIATE ASTHMA SYMPTOMS

Winter is an especially challenging period for those people who have asthma. Cold and flu viruses can trigger asthma attacks, and dry air from heaters and smoke from fireplaces can irritate the airways.

Try to avoid known triggers and keep taking your asthma medications, even if you are feeling well. See your doctor in the winter months if you feel your asthma is not under good control or your chest is feeling tight. Respiratory tract infections are more severe for people living with asthma, so visit your doctor right away at the first signs of infection.

10) FIGHT THE WINTER BLUES

During winter, we often find ourselves leaving the house before the sun is up and returning home when the sun has gone down or, if we are working from home, we might not even be able to get outside. Slowly but surely, we may experience a bit of sadness settling in our spirits. Perhaps we don't feel as motivated as we did in summer, we crave more carbohydrate-based foods, and our sleep patterns may become irregular. If you are feeling low, you may have the winter blues.

The winter blues is a more general term than an actual medical diagnosis. It is common to experience a change in mood and energy levels as the seasons change from summer into the colder months. This is often linked to less exposure to the sun which provides us with vitamin D.

There is a medical diagnosis for a severe form of winter blues. It is called seasonal affective disorder or SAD. It is much more severe and requires medical treatment, either through therapy or medication. This is considered a depression that happens during the winter months. It physically hinders your capacity to function. It is especially important to be aware of the difference. (excerpt zinplex.co.za)

Fight the winter blues by getting outside as much as you can. Regular exercise will also help regulate your hormones and help boost your mood. If you feel like you may have depression, seek help immediately and confide in someone you trust.


CONTACT WALLSTREET FINANCIAL SERVICES

Contact Wallstreet Financial Services if you would like guidance with your winter wellness lifestyle adjustments and to help you with the best wellness program for your needs. As an Independent Financial Service Provider, we can engage with our clients by looking at your current situation and lifestyle needs, and we can help you assess and choose the right wellness program to suit you.

Below are two wellness programs we encourage and support:

  • Discovery Vitality program: Vitality integrates and provides you with discounts at various retailers, and you accumulate points to reach different statuses. Another benefit is getting discounts on your insurance products and enhancements on your investments, including retirement-planning products.

  • Momentum Multiply program: Multiply integrates similarly, providing you with statuses and discounts at various outlets and retailers as well. You will also receive discounts for your interactive participation on your insurance products, as well as enhancements on your retirement products.

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