Winter health… A simple guide
It's that time of year again when the cold weather really starts to set in, and with it comes the endless rain, dark mornings, and long evenings. All of which takes a toll on our health, both physically and mentally. But don’t worry! By taking the time to prepare, we can tackle winter head-on and before we know it, spring will be here to put a spring back in our step.
When it comes to self-care during the winter, it's essential to know where to turn for help. When GPs are at their busiest, our pharmacists step up as the healthcare heroes, offering winter products, services, and valuable guidance to anyone who needs it to get through the cold season.
The Importance of Winter Health
Winter can be quite a challenge for our bodies. The combination of a drop in temperature, lack of physical activity, and weakened immune systems can make us more susceptible to coughs, colds, and the dreaded flu. But it’s not only our physical health that takes a blow, those also whose well-being is severely affected by the seasonal changes might experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
So, to help you get winter-ready, we have put together some guides, tips, and advice. First things first, let's talk about winter nutrition.
Winter Nutrition Guide
When it's cold outside, we tend to put our diet to one side, but your diet is incredibly important during the winter months. The nutrients in our food make our bodies stronger to fight off those pesky colds. So, make sure you eat the right foods!
Embrace winter produce
Even though the selection may be different compared to other seasons, winter still offers a variety of nutritious produce. Incorporate foods like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, winter squash, beets, carrots, citrus fruits, pomegranates, and cranberries into your meals.
Prioritise immune-boosting foods
To support your immune system during the winter, include foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some examples include garlic, ginger, turmeric, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, bell peppers, nuts, seeds, and yoghurt.
Include warm spices
Spices not only add flavour but can also provide health benefits. Use warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom in your dishes. These spices are known for their antioxidant properties and may help boost immunity.
Consume vitamin D-rich foods
During winter, sunlight exposure is reduced, which can lead to lower vitamin D levels. Incorporate foods naturally rich in vitamin D, such as fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy or plant-based milk alternatives.
Drinking plenty of water during the winter is just as important as staying hydrated during the summer. We use much more of our energy during the winter to stay warm and fight off viruses, so it’s vital to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
It's important to remember to enjoy warm and comforting foods without sacrificing nutrition. Opt for homemade soups or stews packed with vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Choose whole-grain options for pasta, bread, and rice to provide more fibre and nutrients, and less salt.
Winter Self-Care Tips
Learning to look after yourself is number one for taking back control of winter. Here are some self-care tips you can do for yourself:
- Prioritise sleep to ensure you're getting enough rest to support your immune system and overall well-being.
- Stay active! Engage in regular physical activity to boost mood, maintain energy levels, and support overall health. This can be tricky in the cold, but even a 5-minute walk at lunch can have a positive impact on your body.
- Eat a balanced diet! Consume nutritious, immune-boosting foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
- Practice good hygiene like washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water or using hand sanitiser to prevent the spread of germs.
- Manage stress levels by incorporating stress management techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in hobbies to reduce stress.
- Get enough sunlight and vitamin D! Spend time outdoors to soak in natural light and boost vitamin D levels, especially during the shorter winter days.
- Protect your skin! Apply moisturizer and lip balm to protect your skin from the harsh winter elements. Products are available at your local pharmacy.
- Take care of your mental health! Seek support if needed, and don't hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional or support network.
- Dress appropriately! Wear layers of clothing and dress warmly to protect yourself from the cold weather and avoid frostbite.
- Practice winter safety to prevent accidents or injuries when participating in winter activities.
The Role of Local Pharmacies in Winter
During the winter, you're more likely to need those winter health essentials that help you recover from the flu, breathe easy during a cold, or treat your dry skin after those sharp frosty mornings. Luckily, your local pharmacy has everything you need to prepare for winter. Visit your pharmacy today for convenient and affordable products you can trust, and don't forget that your pharmacist is there to offer expert help if you have any specific questions.
Related: Collection from your local pharmacy
Local Pharmacy Services for Winter Health
The help from your pharmacist doesn't stop there. Many of the services offered by your GP are also available at your local pharmacy.
When the temperature drops, it doesn't take long for the flu to start doing the rounds. So it's important to protect yourself early. Luckily, with Hey Pharmacist, anyone can book a flu vaccination, with no need to call. Flu vaccinations are available to anyone over the age of two and are free to those at high risk. Start your winter preparations early with Hey Pharmacist!
Blood Pressure Check
Your blood pressure is generally higher in the winter due to the drop in temperature causing blood vessels to narrow. However, we also tend to eat more, often saltier, food during the winter which can also impact our blood pressure. Hypertension has no symptoms, so getting your blood pressure checked at your pharmacy is important if you think you might be at risk.
Looking to watch your weight during the winter? Many local pharmacies offer a variety of safe and effective weight management service treatments for those looking to take the first steps to not just a healthier winter, but a healthier lifestyle, too. Book a consultation at your local pharmacy today to discuss the treatment tailored to you. The first step starts with you!
Staying healthy this winter is all about balance, listening to your body, and putting yourself first. By prioritizing your health, the winter will more likely feel like a winter wonderland than a blustering blizzard. Don't forget that you can visit your pharmacy for advice on common ailments and get easy access to products and professional health services. Pharmacies are a valuable alternative to GPs. Remember, show your appreciation for your local pharmacist during the upcoming festive yet challenging times.