Christmas has gone, and the January blues have well and truly set in. It’s cold, dark and miserable outside – let’s be honest, you’re feeling a little deflated. The winter can be difficult, between Seasonal Affective Disorder and freezing conditions. It’s more important than ever to look after yourself and your body.
According to the NHS, those under 5 and over 65 are the most vulnerable in the winter season. This also includes people with long-term health conditions, pregnant women and those on a low income.
Here are a few winter health hacks to keep your mind and body in good shape all year round.
Your diet has a huge impact on your body. Eat at regular intervals to activate thermogenesis – when your body produces heat through metabolising food. Make sure to eat your five a day and fill your body with plenty of vitamins and nutrients. You could try increasing your protein intake with more meat and fish, so you feel fuller for longer.
Make a meal plan every week and outline your three main meals and snack option. You can track what you’re eating and avoid wandering aimlessly around the supermarket.
You should also consider reducing your tobacco and caffeine intake in the winter as these can restricts your blood vessels, effecting your circulation and making you feel colder.
Your body burns more energy to keep warm in the winter months. It can make you feel tired, run-down and quite frankly – exhausted. There’s a reason you want to take more naps in the winter season.
Invest in some women’s thermals to keep yourself warm and cosy throughout the colder months. Thermals are also great at keeping your core warm which will help to send blood to your extremities minimising the discomfort of icy hands and feet.
Regularly consuming warm drinks and cosying up with hot water bottles and heat packs can also act as a cost effective way of warming you up on those chilly days.
Getting your dosage of vitamin D is still important in the winter months and we may feel less inclined to venture out if it’s cold. Invest in a good winter coat and prioritise warmth over trend – a good coat should be made of sturdy, insulating material. Coats made from corduroy, wool or even flannel may be a little higher on the price front but will certainly keep you nice and toasty during your wintery walks.
Cold temperatures make your blood vessels constrict, restricting blood flow to the heart and increasing your blood pressure, therefore limiting your circulation and making you feel colder, especially at your extremities – You may even find that your fingertips and toes go numb. Keep your hands and feet warm with thermal gloves and socks and promote blood circulation with regular exercise and limiting sitting for long periods of time. You can also consider vitamins and supplements such as vitamin B3 and ginkgo biloba that can help improve your circulation, as well as adding a bit of chilli or ginger into your food and drinks.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is very common in the UK. Many people find that the shorter and darker days lead to depressive symptoms. It’s important to get outside and feel the sunlight on your face in the winter. You need to make the most out of the daylight hours available – even if it’s just for half an hour. You could take up gardening or go for a run around the park. Top up your vitamin D with supplements, and squeeze in some exercise where you can.
Look after yourself this winter, and listen to what your body needs