It may be the end of Autumn and it may be Lockdown 2.0, but that doesn’t mean the beauty of the season is cancelled. The start of winter means bracing morning walks and cosy evenings curled up in front of the TV so to help you make the most of the next few months, get your body and mind primed for the colder weather.
Prepare your skin
Once winter sets in and the air becomes colder and dryer, a light lotion is not going to be enough to give your skin the hydration it needs. Create a barrier against the harsh winds and dry air by choosing products containing natural ingredients such as olive oil, almond oil, shea butter or grapeseed oil. In the winter, it is really important to take care of your skin from the inside, which means keeping it hydrated by drinking more water. This can be more challenging during the colder months so you can hydrate with herbal teas, helping to keep you warm and your skin healthy. On a chilly morning, nothing beats warming up in a hot shower. However, this can actually strip your skin of moisture so try to keep showers short. While you are in there, slough off dead skin by exfoliating with a loofah or body scrub. Pat skin lightly using a towel and when still damp, layer thick moisturiser all over. Don’t forget to show some love for your feet by applying nourishing cream all over, concentrating on the heels, which can become dry and cracked.
Boost your immune system
The immune system is a wonderous part of our bodies that we need to fight off infection. It cleverly puts up with the harmless germs that live in us and on us while identifying and expelling those more harmful species that can cause illness and disease. With the double whammy of Covid and flu, it is important to be in the best physical health as possible.
Wash your hands – we are now used to this message but it is important in not just the fight against Covid, but also all manner of other viruses.
Flu vaccine – if you are 65 and over, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, you may want to consider the flu vaccine.
Stop smoking - it damages your lung’s ability to clear infection.
Learn to deal with stress – everyone has stress but it is important to learn how to deal with it. Long-term stress can cause mutations in DNA leading to the development of dieses.
Hygiene – if someone in your household has a cold, they should use their own hand towel, keep their toothbrush separate and generally try to maintain a distance. Encourage them to cough and sneeze into their sleeve rather than their hands too.
Come the winter months, it is all too easy to reach for comfort food that tends to be high in sugar and high in fat. Try and balance out these unhealthy goodies with nutrient-rich foods that will help you both look and feel better.
Dark green vegetables – kale, chard, spinach, rocket and sprouting broccoli all provide a variety of benefits and is probably one of the most important vegetable groups to add to our diet. Aim for at least one portion a day either in a meal or smoothie.
Citrus fruits – dose up on your vitamin C with citrus fruits, perfect to keep colds at bay.
Oily fish – containing that all important omega 3, oily fish helps to regulate inflammation in the body and also contains vitamin D and protein.
Nuts – need a quick, power boosting snack? Just four or five Brazil nuts per week can meet our micronutrient selenium requirement, which is important for immune response. However, don’t overeat because too many can cause selenium toxicity with a wide range of symptoms from fatigue to kidney failure.
Pulses – perfect for a protein boost enabling the body to have an appropriate immune response as well as repair and grow. Pulses can be used in soups, curries or stews.
The only supplement that is recommended for everyone to consider over the winter months is vitamin D. It’s not present in most of the foods we eat and it’s a critical ingredient that keeps our bones strong by helping us absorb calcium. Getting enough sunlight helps our bodies produce it but this is difficult in the winter time.
The cold weather and various degrees of lockdown is bound to impact our positivity over the next few months. Understanding that you will be tested mentally is the first step to help you prepare for the ride ahead.
Sleep - try and prioritise sleep. Go to bed early if you have young children and try some mindfulness apps or journal writing if you find difficulties in falling asleep.
Moderate alcohol – keep a mental note of how much you are drinking and if this is impacting you negatively. Dealing with hangovers is not just about how you feel physically, it can have an effect on your emotions too.
Get moving – do as little or as much as you want but remember you should do some form of exercise at least three times a week.
Embrace nature – it may be cold but the winter months can be beautiful in nature so wrap up and take a walk.
Goal setting – it’s been a funny old year but don’t let that stop you from celebrating your achievements and setting some new goals.
Stay connected – whether it’s a walk, phone call or a group chat, it’s important to stay in touch with friends and reach out if you are having a wobble.
Find the joy – make sure you do something that you love each day and relish every second of it. From a relaxing bubble bath, playing video games or 20 minutes of yoga, find the joy in everyday activities that you would have perhaps taken for granted before.