Kickstart Your Winter Wellness

I’ve recently started writing a regular ‘Wellness’ intranet column for the company I work for.

Even though my job is not directly related to ‘Health and Wellbeing’ (I work for a bank) I feel proud and delighted to work for a organisation that places great value on the health and happiness of the people who work there.  I guess if they didn’t operate that way I wouldn’t fit their culture so well and I have relished the opportunity given to me to become an ambassador for wellbeing at work.

This post is to share with you the most recent wellbeing article I wrote for my workplace; ‘Kickstart Your Winter Wellness’.  It’s winter here in NZ so for those of you that are in the southern hemisphere this will be timely.  If you reside in the northern hemisphere and enjoying the start of summer – lock and load these tips when the winter hits for six months time.

Kickstart Your Winter Wellness

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The cold snap New Zealand experienced a couple of weeks ago was like a short sharp slap in the face. Winter is here – it can’t be ignored any longer. The days are at their shortest, the fires are stoked, the electric blankets are on, and the winter clothing has been dug out.

Statistics show that colds, viruses and flu are at an all time high during winter. This is no coincidence – our immune system comes under fire during the winter months. The colder weather, the reduced sunlight, damper conditions and artificial heating – all these can negatively impact both our health and our mindset.

So how do we get through winter avoiding those pesky germs dragging us down? Here are a few guidelines to keep you well during winter:

Eat smart

What you eat plays a huge part in your body’s ability to stay healthy and keep sickness at bay throughout the winter. Here are a few easy things you can do to boost your nutrition:

  • Eat fresh and eat seasonally – give your immune system an extra boost by consuming lots of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables. Seasonal fruit and vegetables have the highest amount of nutrients, as well as working out the most friendly for your wallet and the environment. Find out what’s currently in season here.images-20
  • Go easy on the comfort foods – when it’s cold and yucky outside there is a tendency to crave sweet comfort food, such as stodgy puddings, chocolate and cakes. Increased sugar consumption places a strain on your waistline and your immune system. Instead, try some stewed fruit or homemade hearty soups and broths, with lots of veggies to satisfy those cravings. There are also morning tea treat recipes without the sugar overload here.
  • Look after your insides – did you know that 70% of your immunity comes from your gut? There are enzymes and healthy bacteria housed in there that keep you healthy and better able to fight off illness. To improve gut health, incorporate food that contains a lot of good bacteria, such as natural yoghurt or a daily shot of unfiltered apple cider vinegar that is packed with raw cultures and enzymes to boost your health from the inside out. Also, chicken bone broths are amazing at promoting good gut health – chicken soup does more than just heal your soul, it heals your gut too.

Your daily living

As well as how you eat, there are some other simple things to keep you energised and well throughout winter.

  • Get outside – it may be cold out there, but rug up and make a point to get outdoors as often as you can. Cold weather will not cause a cold, but the fresh air will do you good, as will the vitamin D from the sun. Even on a cloudy day, getting outside will provide a much needed vitamin dose.

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  • Keep moving – even though you may want to hibernate, it’s important to keep your body moving and working. Our bodies are meant to move and if we’re in jobs that are predominantly desk-bound, it’s even more vital to counterbalance that with regular exercise. If you find it hard to motivate yourself, join a gym or organise a group of colleagues to play indoor football.
  • Drink lots of water – water consumption often goes down in the winter, but it’s still important to drink about two litres a day, particularly because the increased heating and air conditioning can dry you out.
  • Stay chillaxed – not only is physical illness increased during winter, but so is mental illness. Giving time to your mental wellbeing is as important as the time you spend on your physical health as the two are so intrinsically linked. Keep a balanced lifestyle to keep a balanced mind. Think about taking time out each day just for you, whether it’s a few minutes with a good book, a short walk at lunchtime, or some meditation.

So there are a few key pointers to keep you in tip top shape during the cold days ahead. Winter might seem long, cold and bleak, but there is beauty and growth in every season, even winter. Winter is the season that preps everything for new beginnings and rejuvenation. The coldness and dark days of the winter makes us fully appreciate the warmth and brighter days of summer – every yin must have its yang to be fully appreciated.

Keep warm. Stay healthy. Be happy.

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