This winter doesn’t have to bring you sickness or the winter blues. Keep focused on your physical and mental wellness and make it your best winter yet.
Throughout the winter months, it can be challenging to keep up with our health and wellness goals. The days get shorter and darker, cold and flu germs seem to be everywhere and the weather can make it hard to get outside and stay active. But you can stay well this winter by making healthy choices and taking time to recharge. Check out the tips below to see what you can do to stay healthy and well this winter.
10 Tips for Staying Healthy This Winter
- Get your annual flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine or booster. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is the best way to protect yourself against serious illness and hospitalization. If you’re concerned about vaccine safety or effectiveness, check out Immunizations: Get the Information You Need to Stay Healthy.
- Boost your immune system with healthy habits.
- Drink lots of water and avoid too much alcohol.
- Eat a variety of nutritious foods.
- Stay active.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Wash your hands. According to MedlinePlus, washing your hands is the best way to protect yourself from catching and spreading illness. Learn more about the science behind handwashing with Handwashing 101: Why It Matters.
- Eat what’s in season, focusing on adding lots of vegetables to your diet. Brussel sprouts, squash, eggplant, kale, beets and cauliflower are all good options for the winter months. Check out recipes from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for curried lentil and pumpkin soup or white bean, kale and tomato stew to make some hearty, healthy cold weather meals.
- Don’t isolate yourself. When it’s cold outside, we tend to stay inside more, which can lead to isolation and loneliness – neither of which is good for your health and wellness. Find an activity you can do that keeps you active and engaged, volunteer somewhere local and stay in touch with friends and family.
- Try to get enough vitamin D. With shorter days, it can be hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun alone. Supplement with foods that are rich in vitamin D such as salmon, milk and more. Check out the Dietary Guidelines page for more ideas or talk to your health care provider about a supplement.
- Take care of your skin. There’s less moisture in the air during the winter months, so be sure to keep yourself moisturized. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen throughout the winter too. Even through the clouds, the sun’s UV rays can still damage your skin.
- Be kind to yourself. With the holidays coming one after another, many of us end up with some extra winter weight gain. Don’t get discouraged if you see the scale move up a little. Reset after the holidays and continue to stay active and eat as nutritiously as possible.
- Pay attention to your mental health and wellness. For some, the shorter, darker days can lead to depression, fatigue and general moodiness. Check in with your health care provider if you find yourself struggling with unhealthy thoughts or if you’re unable to get back to feeling like yourself. VA offers several resources related to your mental health, including support for depression, anxiety, substance use and more.
- Take time for yourself and what makes you happy. Whether it’s making time for a motorcycle ride, cooking your favorite meals, giving back to others, exercising or whatever else brings you joy, be sure to make room for it this winter.
- Staying Safe and Healthy in Winter: The CDC offers tips for protecting yourself, your home and your vehicle during the winter months.
- VA offers several resources and programs designed with your health and wellness in mind, including ways to quit tobacco use, manage your weight, maintain good mental health and more.
- Winter Viruses: MedlinePlus provides best practices for keeping yourself safe from viruses, like the flu and COVID-19 this winter.
This winter doesn’t have to bring you sickness or the winter blues. Keep focused on your physical and mental wellness and make it your best winter yet!