To say that 2020, so far, has been a difficult year would most certainly be an understatement. It has brought with it unanticipated, unexpected events – to which nobody really knows how to respond.
Despite our best efforts to eradicate our current health crisis, it’s still ever-present – which, for many, comes with increased feelings of anxiety as the winter months approach.
In preparation, the best approach that many of us can take is to maximise our chances of remaining in good health, so that we can build strong armour to fight whatever comes our way.
With that in mind, here are 7 effective ways to boost your personal wellbeing for the winter season.
1. Eat Warming, Seasonal Foods
Wholesome, natural and warming foods are incredibly nourishing for the body during the winter months. Root vegetables, in particular, are at peak season during autumn and winter – and make great additions to an array of hot dishes, from soups to stews.
Offering anti-inflammatory properties, high fibre content and boosting healthy gut flora, root vegetables are ideal for restoring equilibrium within the body – ultimately ensuring that we’re in the best position to fight off infection.
Similarly, at this time of year, it’s best to avoid cold, frozen goods – and anything that’s not seasonal. Produce that’s in bloom is richer in flavour and nutrients and thus, is more easily digested by the body. As we edge into the colder months, look to make dishes with root vegetables (such as pumpkin, sweet potatoes and butternut squash), as well as whole grains and vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower, kale and broccoli.
2. Get Outside
When the weather gets colder, it can be hard to find the motivation to venture outside your front door. While some people may believe that remaining inside and in the warmth is the healthiest option, this is not always the case. As humans, we still need exposure to fresh air; it’s one of our best natural defences, and works to boost our mental and physical health.
Whether you opt for a daily stroll around your local park, or you slip on your running gear and head out for a jog, it’s important to ensure that you’re consistent and move your body regularly.
3. Re-visit Your Self Care Routine
Much in the same way that many working individuals map out their future business goals, every person that wants to maximise their health should have a self-care plan to help them get there. How would you like to feel? What does optimal health look like for you?
Once you’ve established what your best self looks and feels like, you can start creating a plan that will help you achieve your vision. It shouldn’t be underestimated how much season changes can affect our minds and bodies; so it’s a good idea to revisit your self care plan a few times a year.
As we enter the autumn and winter seasons, you may want to focus on different parts of your life and body – perhaps intensifying your attention on different aspects of your being. For example, you may want to start incorporating more sources of vitamin D into your diet as our sun exposure reduces.
4. Don’t Forget About Your Gut Health
When you’re feeling ‘out of sorts’, it could well be that your gut microbiota is out of balance. When our gut experiences an overgrowth of bad bacteria, we can start to experience a range of health issues – from poor digestion and bowel digestion, to an array of autoimmune disorders, such as eczema. Those who eat high volumes of processed foods and sugar, for instance, are more likely to experience gut health issues.
To start restoring good bacteria in your gut, try cutting down on added, artificial sugars and sweeteners. Try incorporating as many natural and fibrous foods as you can into your diet, instead; vegetable soups and bean casseroles are popular healthy dishes at this time of year.
5. Maximise Natural Sunlight
It’s quite common for undesirable emotions to prevail during the darker months. The sun’s rays quite literally make us happier – all thanks to their ability to release higher concentrations of serotonin. The lack of sun rays in autumn and winter can take its toll on our mental health – and in some, leading to anxiety and seasonal depression.
Whilst some find comfort in artificial LED lighting, the first port of call is to try and maximise natural lighting into your home. If you spend lots of time at home, try setting yourself up next to a window for the majority of the day, and keep curtains open until the sun sets. Try to get outside for at least an hour each day, too, for an instant mood boost.
6. Stick to a Routine
As the mornings darken and the days get colder, it becomes harder to push through the same routines that many of us adopt during the summer months. Getting out of bed and heading out for an early morning walk no longer seems pleasurable; but encouraging yourself to do so can do wonders for your health.
Naturally, our bodies thrive from routine. Eating, sleeping and exercising at regular times each day offer optimal conditions for our bodies to develop a strong support system; so, try not to let healthy habits slip as the urge to hibernate gets ever closer.
7. Create a Comfortable Bedroom Environment
Our immune systems rely heavily on our sleep cycle. Many studies have shown that most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep every night to experience optimal health benefits; and anything short of this can put us at risk of next-day fatigue, as well as a range of long term health conditions.
To ensure that you continue to sleep well in the winter months, ensure that your bedroom is a comfortable temperature, and that you limit the use of electronics at least one hour before bed. If you find that you’re struggling to drift off, try taking a warm bath and soothing yourself with essential oils.
Many underestimate the importance of a healthy sleep cycle, and how it’s so integral to many aspects of our health. Take a look at our previous article to find out more about how you can maintain a healthy sleep cycle.