8 Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter

Winter is often dreaded, it signifies not only cold weather, dark mornings but also the cold & flu season - meaning constant illness for some.  However, there are a number of things we can do to keep ourselves healthy during the winter months.

Eating well, getting enough sleep, and staying active are all important to help support your immune system.  In particular, make sure you are getting enough:

  • Vitamin C – found in most fruit and vegetables
  • Zinc – found in most animal products and many nuts and seeds
  • Iron – found in meat, beans, and lentils as well as in green leafy vegetables, such as spinach
If you are low in any of these, your body may find it harder to fight off colds and the flu.
While it is harder to get motivated during winter - the daylight hours are shorter and it’s cold outside – it is important to remember that being active is an essential part of being healthy.  Bringing your physical activity indoors is a great way to continue to stay fit and healthy while keeping warm.  Why not try yoga, aerobics, or indoor rock climbing.
The cold weather can make us want to ditch the salads in favour of comfort foods, which can be high in fat, salt, and sugar.  Instead, consider a warm, nourishing soup or stew, packed full of flavour and healthy vegetables.  Ensure your winter diet contains plenty of nutrient-rich fruit and vegetables, such as sweet potato, green leafy vegetables, mandarins, bananas, garlic, and ginger.   
When we rest, it’s our body’s chance to repair and reenergise.  Getting at least eight hours of proper sleep a night will assist your body’s immune system to fight off colds.  Try to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes before resting, as these can affect the quality of your sleep.    

When you are well we can help slow the spread of germs by:

  • Washing your hand frequently with soap and water, especially after being in public places, before eating and after going to the toilet
  • Use hand sanitiser when soap or water is unavailable
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects used regularly
  • Try to keep a distance between yourself and other people in public places.

When you are sick it is important that you:

  • Stay home to avoid spreading germs to others
  • Continue to practise the good hygiene tips mentioned above
  • If you are concerned about your symptoms, you may choose to get tested for COVID-19
  • If you have COVID-19 you must isolate and follow the directions of your local health authorities
To stay hydrated, it’s important to drink before you feel thirsty.  Even if you’re not thirsty, try to drink water regularly throughout the day.  You should aim for about two litres of water per day.  A handy tip is to always carry a water bottle with you.  If you struggle with plain water, try herbal tea or clear broth soups to increase your fluid intake.
Stress can lower our immune system, which in turn decreases our resistance to fighting off germs and viruses.  Check out our 9 tips on how to de-stress.

Flu Vaccine - the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that people get a flu vaccine each year.  Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination.  These antibodies protect against infection.  Even if you get the flu, your symptoms will be milder.  You will be able to book into most GP’s and Pharmacies in Australia for your yearly flu vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccine – the Australian Government is currently rolling out COVID-19 vaccines nationwide, for more information head to the Department of Health website.

Viral germs can spread easily.  Don’t worry if you become ill, follow these steps as soon as possible and you will be feeling better in no time:

  • Rest and sleep
  • Keep Warm
  • Drink Plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • Gargle saltwater to soothe a sore throat
  • Relieve a blocked nose with saline water, decongestant sprays, or tablets
  • Ease aches or lower a temperature with painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen*
  • Remember to wash your hands regularly and to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to avoid spreading germs.

Did you Know? Antibiotics do not work against cold or flu viruses

*Always consult your doctor before taking any medication.