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Though the latest holiday season is now behind us, in many places the chilly weather lingers. As January gives way to February, blustery winds and low temperatures become more tedious than charming. On top of fighting the chill, many of us find ourselves battling the flu or common cold, both of which spread quickly during the winter months.
While there’s no surefire way to guarantee perfect health during the coldest months of the year, these simple steps will offer you the best chance at wellness in the weeks to come.
Maintaining or Returning to Healthy Habits
After putting on a few pounds from holiday snacking, many of us find it difficult to return to our pre-holiday diet and exercise plans. Though it might be a challenge, make a conscious effort to take small steps in the right direction. Cut back on excess sugar and carbs in your diet, as these serotonin-boosting substances only lead to further cravings. Instead, give yourself a healthier mood boost by committing to a simple exercise plan. By grabbing some fresh, seasonal produce and adding a few hours of exercise to your weekly schedule, you’ll be equipping your body to fight back against the common cold and more.
Take Your Vitamins
Though everyone knows that they should take their vitamins, many of us neglect to do so! Taking a multivitamin is one of the simplest ways to support your immune system. Consider taking extra vitamin C if you feel yourself coming down with a cold. Add a little vitamin D to your diet if you suffer from seasonal depression or don’t get enough daily sun exposure. For additional support, consider adding omega−3, a mood-boosting, anti-inflammatory fatty acid, to your pill box. Zinc is another particularly valuable nutrient for fighting off colds and viruses. Drink antioxidant-rich herbal teas and add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet to further support your immune system.
On Cold Days, Stay Inside
Though leaving the house may be inevitable, there’s no reason to endure bone-chilling winds for any longer than necessary. Instead of scraping off your windshield and shivering while you drive to the gym, look up a yoga, pilates, or aerobics routine on YouTube. For an extra dose of fun, consider investing in a Nintendo Wii gaming console and Wii Fit, an exercise game that includes aerobics, strength training activities, and more.
Rather than eating out or making multiple trips to the grocery store throughout the week, plan a few simple slow-cooker meals that you can easily throw together with items found in your freezer and pantry. Make big portions of hearty, veggie-filled soups and stews to boost your daily nutrient intake and warm you up inside.
Avoid the Alcohol
Flushed cheeks and a burning in your chest may lead you to believe that throwing back a few beers is a good way to keep warm. In reality, alcohol reduces your core body temperature, sending blood away from the central organs and towards the extremities! The body is fooled into thinking it’s warm, causing sweating, which further lowers body temperature. Alcohol may even hinder the body’s shiver reflex. If you want to enjoy a few drinks in the months to come, consume them in moderation and stay indoors.
Grab the Right Gear
No one feels good when their teeth are chattering! If you’re in need of new outdoor apparel, the later winter months are the perfect time to score good deals. Invest in a sturdy pair of winter boots or insulated hiking shoes. On cold days, wear two pairs of socks to keep your toes warm. Consider purchasing a few pairs of thin thermal leggings to wear beneath your pants on particularly cold days. Protect your eyes from snowy glare with a pair of sunglasses, too. By wearing the right clothing, you’ll be able to enjoy your time spend outside while prevent your risk of catching a cold.
Take Health and Safety Precautions
When it comes to avoiding sickness, the standard advice remains relevant. Keep hand sanitizer on hand and wash your hands as often as possible, particularly after spending time in public places and restrooms. Getting a flu shot can reduce your risk of coming down with influenza by over 50% and may reduce the symptoms you experience if you do get sick. These simple preventative measures have the potential to save you from future suffering.
Staying healthy doesn’t just involve preventing the flu, however. Remaining well also means avoiding dangerous accidents. Hundreds of thousands of adults are injured in weather-related vehicle crashes each winter. Get your car inspected and make sure you have the right tires and enough washer fluid to last for the winter season. Create a car emergency kit filled with food, water, a blanket, and first-aid supplies in case you do have an accident or get lost.
Be sure to keep your home environment safe, too. Salt your sidewalks and driveway to prevent falls. Within the home, double-check to make sure candles, heating pads, and space heaters are all set up in ways that minimize fire risk. Check your smoke detector to make sure it’s working. Performing these simple safety checks just might shield your family from serious harm.
Though the winter months can be challenging, spring will be here before we know it. Until then, keep warm, stay safe and be well!
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