The winter months can be tough when it comes to health and well-being. The lack of sunlight gets us down and the wet cold weather in Ireland makes coming down with something all the more likely. We end up ghostly pale, surrounded by a mountain of tissues, feeling sorry for ourselves.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. You CAN survive winter with your health in tact if you’re lucky and prepared. All you have to do is take care of your insides and they’ll help you feel and look better on the outside.
There are MANY tricks and tips for staying healthy in winter, but I’m going to share some of my favourites with you. I’m stretching those healthcare muscles again from my pharmacist days (you can read more about that period of my life – HERE)!
6 Ways to Stay Healthy in Winter
1) Moisturise & Hydrate
Winter weather tends to stop people from consuming the recommended daily amount of water. Most of us would prefer to sip on a hot chocolate, chai latte or some seasonal variation of coffee instead of a glass of water. The wind, rain and cold batters our skin and leaves it dry and flaky. Our lips crack seemingly out of nowhere and we can’t smile for days.
To combat all of this we need to make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, moisturise daily and always keep a chapstick or tin of vaseline in our bags. I LOVE the Norwegian Formula hand cream in winter actually, it can be a bit sticky but once your let it sink it makes your hands feel SO soft.
2) Keep That Heart Healthy
Christmas and winter bring all sorts of temptations. I know I’m constantly tempted to sit on the sofa surrounded by cheese and crackers and all sorts of Christmas food. But keeping your heart strong year round is always important. Being sedentary doesn’t do anyone any good. Get out there, go to the gym if you don’t like the bad weather, go for a run, or a dance class, or go skiing!
Whatever you enjoy that gets your body moving (hey, hey!), do it! Your heart, and the rest of you, will thank you for it. Diet is also part of this but we’ll get to that later. For now, I recommend getting into a routine with your winter exercise.
I’m currently doing HIIT training with D12 Performance Gym in Dublin. I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks but it has already made me feel so much better! Exercise doesn’t just help your heart, it can seriously clear your head and help with any SAD (seasonal affective disorder) you might be suffering from due to the lack of sunlight in winter.
Probiotic supplements are something which I cannot recommend enough. As I mentioned before, a lot of us get sick or feel unwell in winter and some of us will end up taking antibiotics (particularly for respiratory infections). These antibiotics are wonderful when given in the right circumstances.
I am completely pro-medication (or not anti at least), of course, since I’m a pharmacist and all that. BUT antibiotics can kill our own natural bacteria. So, to prevent gut disturbances and nasty things like thrush (kill me now) we need to make sure that we take probiotics whilst taking antibiotics. Acidophillus is the most widely available one in the UK and Ireland. Get it into you next time you’re feeling unwell.
4) Wrap Up
I know when we’re teenagers and in our early twenties we all go out half naked for a night on the town, and when we get cold we just take a shot for warmth (is that just Ireland?!). HOWEVER, now that I’m in my late twenties I’d sooner wear a fleece to the cocktail bar than freeze my ass off. This is sensible.
At the bare minimum take a little hat and pair of gloves in your bag with you wherever you go. You never know when that temperature could drop, especially in temperate climates like Ireland and the UK. The last thing you want for Christmas is pneumonia! This is particularly important if you have any respiratory conditions or are in anyway immunocompromised.
5) Strengthen Your Liver
Your liver aids your body’s natural detoxing process, so it undoubtedly plays an important role when it comes to your health and you feeling good on the outside and inside. We all know that most of us have a tendency to abuse our livers by drinking far too much alcohol. This is particularly true in winter and at Christmas, 12 pubs of Christmas anyone?!
But moderation is key. Sure, have a Baileys with dinner, or a glass or two of wine, but try not to polish off the bottle. Or, if you do, definitely don’t do it again the next night. There are a few things you can do to help your liver; sip some lemon water, try to make sure you’re eating cruciferous vegetables and take some supplements such as Caruso’s liver health supplements or Milk Thistle.
6) Watch What You Eat
Winter is a hard time to be healthy. We want carbs and comfort food and we have this natural urge to line our bodies with an extra layer of padding to protect us from the cold (that’s a thing!). However, most of us just can’t get away with that kind of thing. I only have to sniff a calorie and I’ll put on a pound!
Meal-prepping is one solution for this. Or substituting some snacks for a slightly more healthy version. For instance, instead of a packet of Tayto, grab a pack of Skips or Velvet Crunch (I know that’s sacrilege for some of you) to make it feel like less of a sacrifice.
Bone broth is a super healthy alternative to processed soups, which full of salt, and it’s full of collagen which will keep your skin glowing through the winter too. I’m veggie so unfortunately I can’t avail of bone broth, but my mother absolutely swears by Sadie’s Kitchen chicken bone broth. Remember to have fruit. A lot of people drop the fruit from their diet the minute the summer disappears, but we need it all year round(obviously).
Herbal teas can be a great, warm alternative to dairy-rich and calorie-laden drinks such hot chocolate. And remember to eat your brussel sprouts at Christmas dinner 😉 As the gym bunnies say “summer bodies are built in winter”.
Staying healthy in winter can be a hard task, but if you take a few precautions you’ll be right as rain all through the season and absolutely glowing while everyone else is coughing their way to Christmas. Your body is like anything else you own, you have to maintain it so that it’ll keep going for a long time. If I could only give you ONE piece of advice it would be to DRINK WATER. I have met so many people during my pharmacy career who had so many issues because they refused to drink water. Our bodies are primarily made up of water, we need to top that up! Grab that water bottle!
How do you stay healthy in winter?
What do you struggle with health-wise?