The onset of winter affects us all differently. For some of us the thought of snuggling up indoors with a mug of hot chocolate is pure bliss, but for others the long dark nights can be overwhelming.
The shorter days, reduced sunlight and colder weather can impact on our health, both physical and mental. Being prepared and having some ‘pick me ups’ to hand can help to combat some of the negative effects of winter.
Staying physically well
Eat well – maintaining a healthy diet during the winter months, with plenty of fruit and vegetables helps the body fight off infections. Keeping a stock of tinned or frozen fruit and vegetables is good for days when the weather stops you getting out and it can help perk up a winter stew or crumble
Get outside – with daylight limited and the weather getting colder being outside can lose its appeal but there’s nothing more refreshing than wrapping up warm and getting some fresh air. The sunlight, though limited and less strong than in summer, can still help keep our vitamin D levels topped up
Get the flu jab – if you are invited for a free NHS flu jab accept the offer. Flu, especially in the vulnerable can be more than very unpleasant, it could be life threatening
Keep active – not only does this help with the release of the ‘feel good’ endorphins it also helps to keep you warm. Try to punctuate your day with bursts of activity. This can be anything from walking around the room a few times or going up and down the stairs to something more vigorous like sweeping up leaves, a brisk walk or going swimming
See your pharmacist – if you have a cold, while it feels unpleasant it’s not usually necessary to see your GP. Instead ask your pharmacist for an over the counter treatment that will help manage your symptoms while you recover.
Keep the house warm – if you’re at home all day try to keep the heating at around 18°C (65°F) so you don’t get too cold. If you are struggling with your fuel bills you may be able to claim the Winter Fuel Payment
Get up and move around – movement helps the blood flow round your body and keeps you warm. Simple things like leg lifts or arm raises from your chair are good ways to keep active, or getting up for a walk round the room or up and down stairs
Wear warm clothing so you don’t get too cold – layers are ideal as its easier to regulate your temperature. Keeping your feet and hands warm helps you stay warm
Don’t save your hot water bottle for bedtime – if you’re sitting for long periods and feeling cold having a hot water bottle (or a cat) on your lap can give you that great warm, snuggly feeling.
Stay mentally healthy
Meet people –it can be easy to become isolated in winter, with bad weather and dark nights stopping us getting out much but it’s really important to get some social interaction. If you’re struggling to get out why not invite some friends or neighbours round for a cup of tea and a natter?
Find a hobby – it’s never too late to learn something new, in fact it is really good for your wellbeing to keep learning new things, plus it’s a great way to meet people. There are loads of activities in Trafford, take a look at our ‘Whats On’ section for some ideas
Have something to look forward to – try to have a few activities booked in your diary so you have things to plan for and look forward to. This could be things like watching a film, seeing family, ordering a take away or going to a quiz or bingo
Check on your neighbours – you may be doing really well and have lots of things going on, but how about your neighbours? It could be that your knock on the door is the only contact they have. Maybe you could get them some shopping, drop them off at a coffee morning or just pop in for a quick chat.
You can find more information and advice about keeping well in the winter on the NHS Choices website