As the festive period approaches, it’s important that we stick to our healthy habits. While it can be tempting to ease-off on the gym and fill our faces full of mince pies and chocolates, it’s not always the best decision.
Poor diet and wellbeing can affect you in several ways, including becoming more susceptible to seasonal illnesses like the common cold and suffering with bouts of anxiety and depression.
To ensure a healthy body and mind this winter, we have rounded up 10 of the best ways to help give you a boost this winter.
Fuel your body with delicious and healthy food
It’s common to crave comfort food during the colder months, but you should still practice a balanced diet. Whilst heavy, stodgy dishes might be tempting it’s important you fuel your body with the right nutrients to ensure you stay healthy. Not only will eating a balanced diet help to reduce your risk of developing serious illnesses, but it will also improve your mental health.
You should aim to eat a balanced diet that incorporates your 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, and plenty of natural protein sources such as Biltong, which comes in beef, venison and other delicious meats. Your balanced diet should also include healthy unsaturated fats such as oily fish and avocado.
Being overweight puts stress on your body, heart and immune system and more susceptible to catching seasonal illnesses and infections. It also puts you at greater risk of complications should you catch coronavirus. Exercising can be difficult in winter, but there are plenty of brilliant exercises you can do yourself at home including HIIT and Yoga. As well as physical benefits, regular exercise has also been proven to boost mental health too as it triggers endorphins, which are the brain’s feel-good receptors. If all that wasn’t enough, exercise has also been linked to improved sleep and increased focus too!
Look after your mental health
The shorter, darker days can make us feel low. The lack of sunlight and time outdoors can also mean that many of us aren’t getting the recommended amount of Vitamin D, which can also contribute to a low mood. Wherever possible, aim to spend time outdoors and consider taking a Vitamin D supplement daily to help boost your mood.
Activities such as meditation can help you to relax, reduce stress and increase your focus so try giving it a go when everyday life is getting too much. Understanding where to start can be a daunting task, but there are plenty of apps and resources out there to help you.
It can be easy to forget about hydration when the weather is cold, but with cold weather comes more layers and with more layers you may sweat more so keeping hydrated is incredibly important. Where possible you should aim to drink 8 glasses of water per day.
Stimulate your brain
Research has shown that in warmer conditions the brain uses more energy to control the body’s temperature, but when it’s colder it directs energy more towards concentration, allowing us to carry out more complex tasks. Has there been a better time to crack out the puzzle book?
Catch up with friends
If 2020 has taught us all anything is that we need human interaction for our sanity. In winter, there may not be much opportunity to get out and about much due to the weather, but by making sure you carve out time to catch up with friends over the phone, it can have a positive effect on your mood.
Take the stairs
Research has shown that the body must work twice as hard to maintain its core temperature in winter, so when you take the stairs instead of getting the lift, you’re effectively burning more calories!
Go to bed earlier
Most adults don’t get the 7 to 9 hours sleep per day. Getting less than 7 hours sleep for just one night can have a negative effect on you the next day and adults that regularly miss out on 7 hours sleep are at higher risk of serious health complications such as heart attack, stroke, and obesity. If you’re constantly sleep deprived, going to bed just 30 minutes earlier every night could drastically help.
A problem shared is a problem halved
It can be hard to talk to people about how you feel. You may be worried they don’t take your feelings seriously or you may be worried about what will happen once you’ve confided in them. It’s important that rather than keeping your problems bottled up that you talk to someone, whether that be a friend, colleague or professional as it can make you feel better and stop you feeling stressed.
Last, but by no means least is relaxation. As important as eating healthily and exercising is, relaxing is something you should do every single day to ensure you lead a happy and healthy life. Just taking out an hour every evening to do the things you enjoy and switch off from the day is enough to boost your mood and leave you feeling happy so make sure you make it a priority.