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January 2, 2019 • read
Stay healthy all winter long
Winter can feel like a great time to hibernate, but with work, family, holidays and travelling, most of us are taking on way more than we usually do. Pair that with being cooped up inside and you have a recipe for getting sick. Check out our tips for taking care of yourself physically and emotionally to stay healthy all winter long.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Chronic stress can lower immune functioning, making us an easier target for things like the flu, so it’s important to be mindful of our exposure to it. If you’re hosting, avoid some stress this year by asking your guests to contribute with a potluck-style meal. You’ll end up with a whole bunch of delicious dishes without the pressure of cooking for everyone.
Get plenty of sleep. This can sound more like an item on your wish list than a real possibility but give it a try! Our bodies need between seven to nine hours of sleep a night to recharge and stay healthy. If you have kids, try alternating early morning wake-ups with your partner so you each have a day to sleep in. And don’t feel like you have to say yes to every invite you get. Sometimes a 9:00 pm bedtime can be better than a night out!
It doesn’t always feel this way, but winter can be fun! Even a mild winter deters many of us from getting outside, so try and plan some outdoor activities. Head down to a skating rink, check out a gallery or museum or even a local library to get out of the house and away from all that chocolate temptation. Just getting on winter gear and playing in the snow can be fun and a great way to get active.
Curb the overindulging
Excess belly fat can increase your risk of developing a host of health problems like heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Since sitting around bored all day surrounded by snacks is a sure-fire way to end up overeating, schedule some activities to get out of the house. Having a glass of water before you go for that snack can also help stop you eating too much — it will keep you from confusing thirst with hunger. And make sure you have some favourite healthy options on hand for those times when you really need a snack.
Look at your sunshine and vitamin D intake
Also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” our body produces vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight. As Canadians, we usually don’t have enough sun in the winter to make the vitamin D we need. Low levels of Vitamin D are linked to higher rates of depression and osteoporosis, so it’s worth talking to your doctor about whether you should be taking a Vitamin D supplement, especially in the winter.
Practice proper hygiene
Being cooped up indoors with family and friends is a great way to spread germs. There’s a reason colds and flu peak during the coldest months — they have their pick of hosts! It sounds simple, but practice proper hygiene by washing your hands regularly. Doing it before and after cooking and as soon as you get home helps to stop the spread of germs. And be mindful of touching communal surfaces like elevator buttons or subway poles and then touching your face.
Know when to see a doctor
Winter colds can be unpleasant, but the flu can be serious — even life-threatening for some people.
You’re not likely to have a fever or chills with a cold — those can be signs that it’s something worse like the flu. If you think you’re getting the flu, speak to a doctor within the first 48 hours of exhibiting symptoms. During that time, doctors can prescribe an antiviral like Tamiflu, which can drastically reduce your recovery time.
If you experience a high fever for more than three days or chest pain or shortness of breath with the flu, you should seek urgent medical advice. Flu can be more dangerous in little ones. If your child has the flu and isn’t eating or drinking or isn’t waking up easily, contact a doctor immediately.