Winter is most definitely here!

And it brings with it the inevitable poor weather, colds, coughs and other illnesses that mark this time of year. Here are two simple tips this week to help you look after your health:

  • Stay hydrated: Staying inside with the heater on can affect your hydration levels and in turn affect your skin, energy, concentration levels and your kidneys. Drink plenty of water, especially if the cold makes you reach for another cup of coffee, which can dehydrate you even more.
  • Keep exercising: Don’t let the cold weather slow you down! Bring the family along—visit an ice-skating rink, go for a woodland walk, swim, join a class or have a walk around the shops. Try out interesting new fitness classes to shake things up, as many gyms will offer a free trial to newcomers. Consult your doctor if you are concerned about exercising.
  • Get enough sleep: High quality sleep is important to reduce stress and keep energy levels up throughout the day. Caffeine, artificial light or intense physical activity close to bedtime can make it harder to get some good sleep. Keep to a regular schedule, try to relax prior to bedtime and ensure your bedroom is conducive to a good nights sleep.
  • Eat a balanced diet: It’s easy to fall into bad habits when staying in at night watching TV and lots of comfort foods. Put comfort foods out of sight; say no to temptations such as chocolate. Keep things healthy but interesting by trying out new recipes using fresh winter produce like squash, carrots, and even parsnips and turnips. Instead of sugar-heavy desserts, reach for a small handful of dried fruit, try an apple or yogurt. Use slow cookers to make easy hot meals like chili, delicious meat dishes, and more with minimal effort. Control portion sizes to avoid overeating and heartburn
  • Keep the bugs away: With cold and flu viruses making the rounds, regular hand washing is an easy way to fight seasonal illness. Keep hand sanitizer handy in your car or purse, avoid touching public pens or doors as much as possible, and wipe down high touch surfaces like keyboards, phones etc to beat back germs. See your GP about the flu jab if you’re 65 or over, or if you have any of the following problems (NHS Choices):
    • a serious heart complaint
    • a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema
    • serious kidney disease
    • diabetes
    • lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroid medication or cancer treatment
    • if you have had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
    • if you have a problem with your spleen or you have had your spleen removed
    • are seriously overweight (BMI of 40 or above)

Your GP may advise you to have a flu jab if you have serious liver disease or a neurological condition such as multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy or learning disability.