Friday, 22 January 2021

Making Health A Priority This Winter

Winter is notorious when it comes to illnesses flying around and embarking upon a quest to avoid germs at all costs, but this winter, it’s even more important to try and prevent health problems. With the Covid-19 crisis still dominating the news headlines, it’s more crucial than ever to make your health a priority. In this guide, we’ll examine some simple steps you can take to protect yourself this winter

Exercise and fitness

It may be dark, cold and miserable outside, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t embrace an active lifestyle and start reaping the rewards of regular exercise. It’s difficult to get motivated in winter, but if you can summon the energy and enthusiasm to go for a walk, go jogging or do a workout at home, you’ll feel so much better afterwards. Exercise is incredibly beneficial for your physical health, but perhaps more importantly at the moment, it’s also an effective natural stress-buster. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, known as happy hormones, and the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain increase. It’s important to note that you don’t have to become a fitness fanatic overnight or devote all your spare time to working out. Even if you only exercise for 10 minutes every day or you do 30 minutes five times a week, you’ll notice a positive difference. Regular exercise boosts immunity, it can help you maintain a healthy weight, it reduces the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease and it can also make a difference to your energy levels and your confidence. There are myriad options you can choose from when it comes to activities. From walking and cycling to doing yoga, Pilates and HIIT at home or working with a personal trainer virtually, you can vary sessions and select activities depending on your mood, your fitness goals and the amount of time you have available. 


Image source: https://pixabay.com/photos/people-woman-exercise-fitness-2592247/

Hand washing and personal hygiene

By now, we’re all familiar with adverts and press briefings that encourage frequent hand washing and good personal hygiene. It has always been important to maintain good hygiene habits, but it’s more critical than ever to follow expert advice. Use hand wash and do a thorough job, spending at least 20 seconds rubbing soap into your hands and covering every part of the palms and fingers. It’s also beneficial to shower or take a bath daily and to keep your home clean and tidy. Wipe down surfaces and disinfect anything you bring in from outside, for example, shopping bags. Hand washing has come to the fore as a result of Covid-19, but it’s an excellent habit to adopt in the long-term, as it protects against all kinds of illnesses that spread quickly and easily, especially in the winter months. 


Picture from https://pixabay.com/photos/washing-hands-wash-your-hands-4940196/

Rest, recovery and finding a healthy work-life balance

It can be challenging to relax at the moment, with bad news permeating the air and levels of anxiety rising. This winter, make mental health a priority. Often, when we talk about health, we focus on taking steps to improve physical health, and we neglect psychological wellbeing. As the pandemic takes its toll on people’s mental state, it’s critical to try and protect yourself as best you can. Take opportunities to rest and recover and try to find a healthy work-life balance. If you’re working from home, schedule regular breaks, try and leave your desk and get outside at least once a day and get into a routine. Leave your work phone on your desk and give yourself time to unwind and switch off at the end of the day. Make time for activities that lift your mood and help you to feel calm. Whether you love a bubble bath, curling up with a good book or catching up with friends via a video call, it’s important to take time out and wind down before you go to bed. If you feel anxious or stressed when you climb under the covers, you may find it difficult to sleep. Don’t check emails after you log off, keep technology out of your bedroom and aim to go to bed and get up at a similar time each day. 


Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-reading-book-on-bathtub-4156300/


Improving your diet

Research suggests that most people have found it difficult to embrace healthy eating during lockdown. We often focus on the role of our diet as a means of losing weight, particularly during new year’s resolutions season, but this detracts from the importance of eating well. The primary purpose of your diet should be to fuel your body, providing it with all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs. Rather than devoting all your time and energy to thinking about your weight, aim to follow a plan that prioritises nutrition. Improving your diet will have a positive impact on your health, and it will probably help you to lose weight too if this is your goal. Aim to include at least five portions of fruit and vegetables in your daily menu, increase your intake of whole grains and fibre-rich foods and limit the amount of sugar, salt and saturated fat you consume. It’s a great idea to cook at home and try and make meals from scratch. If you’re not a culinary wizard, don’t worry. There are hundreds of easy, quick recipes you can follow online. When you cook, you have control over the ingredients you use and the methods you employ to rustle up a feast. It’s often much healthier to opt for homemade meals than takeaways and ready meals. 


Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/pasta-with-vegetable-dish-on-gray-plate-beside-tomato-fruit-on-white-table-769969/

This winter, it’s more important than ever to put your health first and to be proactive in trying to prevent illness. It’s not always possible to avoid health problems, but taking good care of yourself will make a difference. Try to increase activity levels, get plenty of rest, eat well, wash your hands and keep your home clean and devote time to doing things that help you to relax and make you feel calmer and happier. These changes will provide benefits long after the Covid-19 crisis is over.

*This is a collaborative post*

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