While winter health has always held a level of importance that Canadians are mindful of, with cold and flu season beginning in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic (in a Canadian winter climate), the emphasis on this has never been greater. Under normal circumstances, people often battle the winter blues, along with runny noses, coughs, sore throats, and the occasional fever throughout the colder months that this season is so known for. Now that coronavirus is at the top of all of our minds, we are either at an increased risk of these annoyances, or these once mild symptoms will have us all fearing the worst. The best way to approach our health this season is with mindful, preventive measures. Here are some ways that you can incorporate healthy habits into your life to stay well this winter.
While it definitely takes more motivation to fight your urge to stay indoors and under a mountain of cozy blankets in the winter months, it is important to remember that exercise is still something we should be engaging in. Getting outside and moving your body can help ward off winter weight gain and decreased mood while minimizing worsening symptoms of illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure. Additionally, the fresh air and exercise is a great way to clear your mind and enjoy a change of scenery every once in a while. The crisp cold temperatures will also make you appreciate the comfort of your home even more once you are back indoors.
There is no argument that the winter blues are real. With the change in the season, many Canadians experience a change in mood to some degree. It is important to discuss with your doctor if you are feeling this way. A common measure that many people are taking to prevent or reduce the severity of these symptoms is by using a SAD lamp to increase their exposure to light throughout the season.
Living in a cold climate for many months means a decrease in exposure to natural vitamin D. You can increase your vitamin D intake by eating foods such as Salmon, Tuna, Eggs, and Milk, or speak with your doctor on whether or not supplements are needed.
Additionally, eating foods rich in Vitamin C will help to support your immune system throughout these colder months. Try eating meals filled with greens like broccoli or Brussel sprouts, add a serving a citrus fruit to your breakfast, or try some tomato juice to increase your levels with the food you may already have in your home.
I am sure this has been drilled into all of our heads over the last 10 months, but handwashing is a must to prevent viruses from invading our bodies. Be mindful of your handwashing, do it before you leave the house and upon your return, as well as any other necessary times during the day. Remember to hit all the crevices in your hands, and wash for at least 30 seconds (Sing Happy Birthday twice!). Hand Sanitizer is a great alternative too and should be done when hand washing is not an option.
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