This time of year brings unique hazards along with celebrations. The good news is there are several things we can do to stay healthy and welcome spring back. Consider these nine tips to help you this winter.
Increase Your Vitamin C Intake
Vitamin C can decrease the duration of a cold — but only if you have plenty of it in your system when you first get sick. Because this nutrient is water-soluble, your body doesn’t maintain stores. You need to supplement or get it through food each day.
Your body tends to absorb nutrients better through food. Red bell peppers have three times the vitamin C of an orange. Why not make some stuffed ones for dinner tonight? You can also start your day with the traditional glass of OJ — only, mind the sugar content.
Go a Little Nutty
Wintertime can mean the blues for some people. Fortunately, dietary changes can increase your immune response and ease seasonal depression.
You probably recognize zinc as a mineral in many OTC cold and flu remedies. Like vitamin C, it can shorten a cold’s duration if you take it at the first sign of illness. This nutrient, along with selenium and magnesium, also helps boost your mood.
Where can you find these nutrients in droves? Nuts and seeds provide all three. Sprinkle some pepitas on your lunchtime salad or keep a tin of mixed nuts in your desk drawer for snacking.
Adjust Your Workout Routine
Winter might be your fittest time of year if you ski. However, you might prefer to switch up your routine if working out in the cold doesn’t appeal to you.
One of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise you can do is dance. You don’t need to pull on a coat and hat and head through the snow to the gym. Instead, dock your iPhone and have a party right in your living room.
Humidify Your Indoor Air
Germs proliferate in dry conditions. Low humidity levels dry out your nasal passages, letting viruses set up housekeeping.
Indoor heating sucks what little moisture remains in the air, turning shared spaces into breeding grounds for bacteria. The solution? Try adding a humidifier. It will help your sinuses produce enough mucus to trap germs before they can make you sick.
Be Aware of Winter Hazards
Icy roadways and drivers unprepared for conditions can lead to accidents in the winter. You can’t do much as an individual to impact road conditions. However, you can alter your driving habits. Slowing down and increasing your following distance can prevent creating a domino effect if the person behind you plows into you, pushing you forward.
Accidents aren’t the only hazard you face on the road when temperatures drop. Inspect your battery to keep your heater running and outfit your ride with tools, water, snacks, and blankets in case you break down in a remote location and have to wait for assistance. Make sure to salt the sidewalk in front of your home and keep an eye out for icy grounds anywhere you go in order to avoid slip-and-falls.
Keep Toasty Warm
The cold itself won’t cause illness. However, it does create the ideal conditions for viruses to multiply.
Therefore, you should bundle up when you head outdoors. Doing so keeps your body from exerting excess energy on keeping warm when it should be devoting that power to defense.
Step up Your Hygiene
You probably sang “Happy Birthday” in your head a million times since the pandemic began. Please keep up the chorus. Handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Likewise, you might want to mask up in indoor spaces — yes, even if you are vaccinated against COVID-19. Doing so isn’t a failsafe against getting sick. However, it does offer some protection. Additionally, it prevents you from spreading germs to others, even if you remain asymptomatic.
Get Plenty of Sleep
You don’t function as well when you’re tired, and neither does your immune system. Sleep deprivation increases cortisol production, which can throw your body’s cytokine balance out of whack. Cytokines are proteins that fight infection, but you need the right balance. Too few or too many cytokines spell trouble, and your body regulates the production of them during rest.
Furthermore, sleep deprivation makes you more accident-prone. Driving drowsy is as dangerous as getting behind the wheel after a few drinks. You already face increased roadway hazards — get your Zs to stay safer.
Make Holiday Plans
The holiday time can be challenging for some people and create a feeling of loneliness. If you find yourself alone, make holiday plans that get you involved with others. Consider volunteering or attending worship services — anything that makes you feel a part of your community.
Stay healthy through the winter months with the nine above tips. Spring will be here before you know it!