Winter has crept up on us here in the UK like the sneaky, cold, unwelcome season that it is. The mornings are dark, the days are getting shorter, and that ultimate temptation of locking yourself in the house until spring will soon become overwhelming. With the shorter days, the stress of the holiday season is approaching and colder weather, whether we feel like it or not, this is the time of year where we need to take the time out for ourselves to ensure we remain happy and healthy throughout the colder months.
So what are the healthy habits we should be adopting this season and the good things we should be making the most of during the winter months? We’ve taken a look at a few health and wellbeing activities we may usually overlook, but are great to practice in the long run over the coming months in the lead-up to the festive period.
Being social doesn’t necessarily sound like a winter habit, but how many times do you consider cancelling an event or moving plans because you’re too cosy curled up on your sofa and it’s raining outside? Oh, we know that feeling! The winter months not only bring on the onslaught of cold weather and stress overload, but we can often find ourselves feeling down or lower than usual, thought to be caused by the lack of sunlight in our lives. Being socially active can keep our spirits up and feelings warm.
Being social doesn’t mean you have to spend lots of money or travel a long way. Try meeting for a coffee with a friend in the afternoon, taking a long stroll with your family or visiting a relative who may not be able to get out too easily. If we’ve all got to suffer the winter months, we may as well do it together!
Healthy habits this season are not just about concentrating on our wellbeing, we should not forget about the usual routines we adopt during the other months. Applying sunscreen should be a regular part of your skincare routine, no matter what time of the year. Cold air and heating in the building can dry out your skin, and if you throw in a side order of sunburn when you least expect it, it becomes a nightmare for the skin you have looked after during the warmer months.
Our skin becomes more sensitive to UV radiation during winter, due to the simple fact our skin is not used to it, and the melanin which is produced in our skin is reduced. Melanin is the skin’s pigment and is what gives most of us a lovely, healthy tan in the summer. Due to less exposure to sunlight when the days get shorter, our skin produces less of this natural pigment, resulting in not only being less tanned but we may also become more sensitive to when the sun does make an appearance.
If your heading into the winter sun on holiday this year or simply having a day out at the park, get into a good practice of protecting your exposed skin such as face hands, nose and ears. Protecting your skin throughout the entire year will limit the ageing process caused by your skin by UV rays. Now, let’s all keep our fingers crossed for a little bit of sunshine in the colder months so we can practise our sun safe skincare routine!
Ahh, Christmas is the season for being merry and the temptation of overindulgence is round ever corner. From Christmas cooking at home to mince pies and chocolates, mulled wine and a glass of the bubbly stuff – everyone has their Christmas favour, and it’s very easy to find yourself over-indulging during the festive period. We’re not here to burst your Christmas bauble and say steer clear of the treats. However you don’t want to regret all the chocolatey decisions in January, so here are a few tips you can try so you don’t find yourself overindulging when its not necessary.
Try portion control – there is nothing wrong with sampling all the delights on offer but try sticking to smaller amounts, so you don’t add on too many calories to your usual diet and end up feeling sluggish at the end of the evening.
Be selective – choose quality over quantity. Indulging in your very favourite chocolate or biscuit, or a home made mince pie, for example, is far more enjoyable than eating your way through a cheap bag of chocolates or crisps because they are just there. Also, avoid filling your cupboards with the ‘just in case’ bags of treats, the temptation will be screaming out of the fridge door every time you go past!
Control your alcohol intake – with the festive period, also comes an increased chance of social activities which may include alcohol. Try alternating your alcoholic drinks with soft drinks or water, or opting for a spritzer instead of just wine. This will not only help you keep on top of your activity that evening, but it will also keep you hydrated, limiting the chance of a hangover the next morning. Win win!
The winter months can bring on all levels of stress. The upcoming Christmas period, buying presents, tackling the shops, work related issues for the end of the year and the impending visits from friends and family, the list goes on. So what can we do to keep the stress levels at a minimum and keep ourselves healthy and happy through the upcoming months?
Plan – What is your plan of action for Christmas? Don’t let anyone tell you October is too early to be planning for the big day; you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life! Having a clear cut plan of what you’re going to be spending, who you need to buy for and also what you need to complete for work by the end of the year will ensure the months pass by smoothly.
Get outside – We’ve said it before, and we will continue to say it (unless you are snowed in this winter) there is no excuse to not get out all year round. Don’t let the colder weather put you off. Getting active is an excellent way to combat stress, to lift your spirits and keep your mind fresh. Exercise is also a great way to burn off the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, as well as producing mood-enhancing endorphins, so don’t be storing away your trainers just because the days are shorter and chilly.
Have fun – This time of year is fun for so many reasons. Try and relax and have fun while you’re going about your day. Yes, things may get a little busier at times, and you may find people being difficult as they combat stress too, but try and rise above the situation. The winter is the perfect time to get together with friends, play games in the evening, go for long walks during the day, have fun shopping, don’t forget to treat yourself and be proud of everything you have achieved by the end of this year.