How to look after your health during winter

Quick wins to help you stay on top form while the days are dark & chilly

Get out of here!

We know the temptation to chill out on the sofa watching movies and eating choccies all weekend is immense – and if that’s what you fancy doing, then go for it! But as with everything in life, it’s all about the balance, so try to get out and about at least one or both of the days.

Take a look at our guide to the benefits of exercise for more information on how much exercise you need, and why it’s so important to stay active.

Not into the gym? Walking is one of the best ways to hit your recommended weekly amount of physical activity. Walking is also thought to help with stress by boosting your endorphins (aka your brain’s feel-good chemicals). So pull on your boots, grab a bottle of water to keep you hydrated, and get out there!

 

Start the day right

It’s been said before (and we’re going to say it again) but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

Foods rich in starch and fibre are brilliant. A bowl of porridge made with semi or skimmed milk, and topped with chopped banana or some blueberries, ticks all the boxes. Not a porridge fan? Baked beans on toast, scrambled eggs or a green smoothie with oats and spinach will also set you up for the day ahead.


Support your immune system

During the cold and flu season, it’s more important than ever to eat well. Putting good things into your body will help keep your immune system strong, so make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet full of a variety of fruit and vegetables.

That doesn’t mean dinnertimes suddenly become boring though – one of the perks of this time of year is all the comforting foods you can eat which are still super healthy. Think hearty soups, stews and slow cooker favourites! Mmmmmm.

Not sure what to pack your plate with? Swot up on how what you eat can help keep your immune system healthy – take a look at our guide to diet and immunity.


Keep taking vitamin D

Vitamin D has always been important, but during the winter months it’s essential to make sure you’re getting enough. Over the summer, we usually get enough vitamin D from the sunshine, although a daily supplement is still a good idea for some people.

Over autumn and winter when the days are shorter and sunlight is harder to come by, you might want to consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement to keep your bones and muscles healthy and help support your immune system.


Drift off to the land of nod

Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep when it comes to keeping your body and mind healthy. Repeatedly skimping on the slumber can affect your health and wellbeing, while getting a good eight hours can work wonders.

Don’t just take our word for it though, take a look at the lowdown from the experts on why getting a good night’s rest is great for you.

Why not set a bedtime alarm so you know you’re getting off to sleep at a similar time each evening? You’ll wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.


Plan some meaningful activities

You might find yourself staying indoors more while the nights are dark, so use this time to do fun, meaningful things. How about making a family picture album? Start it off with your favourite photo and then you and your loved ones can add to it throughout the year.

Make it a family tradition and it will be something special to look back on for years ahead – you could even turn it into a photo book at the end of each year. Take a look at bootsphoto.ie for inspiration. 

Or why not take a trip to see some sights? Even if you simply explore your local area, it’ll get you out of the house and should leave you feeling good.


Game on!

OK, we know it might be tricky to wrestle tablets and smartphones away from the kids (and by kids we mean adults too!), but there are advantages to going old-school and breaking out the board games instead.

Research into the psychology of board games shows that, among other benefits, they can help to stimulate your brain, enhance your memory, boost your mood and relieve stress.

They’re a great way to bring the whole house together and can also help kids learn how to cope with winning and losing in a safe environment.


Raise a glass (mindfully)

While it’s nice to enjoy a glass or two of your favourite tipple, it’s good to keep an eye on how much alcohol you have. Drinking too much can be bad for your overall health, make you feel tired due to restless sleep patterns, and can see your stress levels go up.

Experts recommend setting yourself a limit before a big night. Try swapping stronger beers and wines for ones with less alcohol, limiting the amount of alcoholic drinks you have, and drinking one soft drink or a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages. That way you’ll be able to keep control of yourself, your health, and your hangover the next morning!

For a bit of soft drink inspiration, try this fab, flavoursome mocktail: Simply mix equal quantities of ginger ale and cranberry juice, add a splash of lime juice, a little sugar to taste, and serve with a light dusting of cinnamon. Cheers!