It’s that time of the year again – time for sniffles, sneezes, sore throats and body aches. Except, I don’t have time for “that time,” and I’m guessing you don’t either. Catching a cold or the flu can take you out of the game for weeks. Being ill means having to stay home from class, having to call off work, and having to miss out on a night on the town with friends. No one wants that.
Cold weather is moving in, and it is essential that you adjust your routine to avoid catching a bug. Below are a few easy steps you can take to stay healthy all winter long.
1. Get enough sleep
I know you’ve heard this one a million times, and the fact that you’ve heard it a million times should prove to you that it’s important. When you sleep, your body restores itself. Your body goes through several REM cycles, but it makes the most immune-strengthening repairs during the last and longest one, which begins after seven hours of slumber. Don’t skimp out on sleep. Set a bedtime or create a nighttime routine; do whatever you need to do to get those Zzz’s.
2. Eat fruits and vegetables … and a little of everything else
Even a slight vitamin deficiency can throw your body off track. In the dark, cold, winter months, it is tempting to eat unhealthy, comfort foods. But that momentary “comfort” could lead to weeks of sickness. Be sure to incorporate fresh fruits, vegetables, protein and whole grains into your diet. Feel free to throw a multivitamin in the mix, too. Your body will thank you.
Check out these nutrition tips on Cheap, Healthy, Good for on-campus and off-campus healthy eating ideas.
3. Push yourself during workouts
Don’t just go through the motions when you hit the gym. Instead, push yourself to train harder and to run faster. The goal is to increase your heart rate and to get your blood pumping. Keep yourself accountable by signing up for a workout class or making a fitness pact with a friend. I understand how difficult it can be to stay motivated. Whenever I start to talk myself out of a session on the elliptical, I remember this: I have never regretted a workout.
If you are one of those brave souls who enjoys outdoor winter workouts, then be sure to read these safety tips from Mayo Clinic.
4. Lather up
Brutal winter winds make skin dry and itchy. The answer to this problem is simple: moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Moisturize after you shower, before you venture outdoors and pretty much any other time you think of it throughout the day. Cold outdoor air combined with the heated, dry air inside homes and buildings is the perfect mixture for a skin disaster.
It is especially important to moisturize your face, the part of your body that remains uncovered when the rest of your body is bundled up. My favorite face cream is Aveeno Smart Essentials Nighttime Moisture Infusion. Apply a thin layer at night and wake up with soft, smooth skin. What better way to start the day than with a moisturized and happy face?
Check out these winter makeup tips on She Knows.com for ideas on how to winterize your beauty routine.
6. Wash your hands
Germs are everywhere. You can’t avoid them; they are on doorknobs, money, keyboards and other people. They are on virtually everything you touch. Unless you want to make rubber gloves a part of your daily wardrobe, then you must remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds several times a day. Don’t ask questions; don’t make excuses – Just do it.
7. Live passionately
I saved the most fun tip for last. Find a few hobbies you love, and do them often. Even when your schedule is crammed, fit in time to relax and to enjoy your favorite pastime. It’s proven that happy people live longer than gloomy people. Recognize when you are overwhelmed and take a mental break. Then, return to whatever you were working on with a new energy. Happiness is a key ingredient in the recipe for a healthy life
Want more? Check out this Glamour.com article for several other ways to maintain your health this winter.
Want to share? Comment below with any advice you have for avoiding illness and staying at the top of your game all winter. I would love to learn your secrets!