You may remember this post from a few years back about the things I hate about winter. But, in all fairness, there’s also a lot to love about winter, especially for the fashion conscious. There’s the way the snow and frost amplify the beauty of the natural world and urban cityscapes alike. There’s the sense of childlike elation that we all get when the snow falls thickly and sticks to the ground in pillowy clumps. There’s sipping a hot drink from your favourite coffee shop as you enjoy a leisurely stroll to work in a crisp winter wonderland. Not to mention snuggling up on the sofa with someone special at the end of a long day.
And, of course, there’s getting to see the winter lines on display in the shop windows and treating yourself to a fabulous new seasonal wardrobe. Warm coats, comfy boots and super cute accessories become the order of the day and we get the chance to look amazing even as we keep ourselves warm.
But there’s one thing that’s not a good look on anyone. A red runny nose, tired red eyes, chapped lips and a ghastly pallor can combine to ruin your carefully crafted ensemble… not to mention making you feel like death warmed up.
Cold and flu bugs aren’t a good look on anyone this winter. Here are some ways in which you can avoid them…
Like all good health… it starts with diet
Cold and flu bugs are some of the most highly adaptable and fast-mutating on the planet which is why, even with our wondrous medical advances, we still haven’t managed to cure it yet. But to quote an old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
And prevention starts with a healthy immune system… which is why a healthy diet is so essential in the winter months. Of course, that’s easier said than done when we’re combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder and the dark and drizzly days make us want to immerse ourselves in a vat of crisps, ice cream, chocolate and other comfort foods.
Try and limit your intake of high calorie-low nutrition comfort foods and load your plate with leafy greens, colourful veggies and fresh fruit. If you’re on a plant-based diet, you’re likely already on the right track. Fresh fruits and vegetables are chock full of phytonutrients which help to stimulate immune function and prevent those persistent bugs from getting into your body.
Don’t wait for symptoms to get worse
Even with a healthy diet, however, there’s still a chance that persistent bugs can break through your body’s natural defenses. It’s important to remain aware and if you start to feel a sore throat or sinuses or the beginnings of a cold (that feeling when your head feels stuffed with cotton wool), act quickly before the bug has the chance to run rampant. Even something as simple as taking some antibacterial throat sweets like Strepsils or a First Defence Nasal Spray can help you to stop a cold bug in its tracks before it has the chance to give you days of bunged up nose, sore throat and headaches.
Again, this is easier said than done at this time of year. The last thing most of us want to do on a dark and rainy winter morning is head to the gym or go for a run. Nonetheless, combined with a healthy diet, an active lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to keep your immune system on top of its game is through regular exercise.
Not only does exercise (especially cardio) help to boost your immune system, it’s also a great way to relieve stress. And stress can cause your immune system to falter, especially when it’s combined with a lack of sleep. Which brings us to…
Get plenty of rest
I get it, I really do. As the quarter draws to a close, many of us are up against extremely testing targets at work and pushing through our fatigue to ensure that we end the calendar year on a high at work. Still, don’t let your professionalism send you on the path to chronic stress. While a little stress can help to shake you out of complacency and allow you to be your best at work, chronic stress can have so many ill effects on your body that cold and flu bugs will be the least of your worries.
The best way to fight off cold and flu bugs is to manage stress and make sure you get plenty of rest. And that means at least 7-8 hours of sleep. When you’re asleep your body does its vital work in repairing and maintaining your body to keep you healthy. And if you aren’t getting enough rest, it doesn’t matter how much you work out or how well you east, your immune system is unlikely to be functioning at peak efficiency.
If workplace stress is preventing you from switching off at night, try some mindfulness meditation techniques to get yourself out of your own head and get a handle on your stress so you can get the rest your body needs.
Wash your hands regularly, especially at work
Did you know that cold and flu viruses can last for up to 24 hours outside the human body. That means that they can linger on door knobs, switches and phones for a long time. When you open the door to the lunch room at work, how can you be sure that it hasn’t previously been opened by a colleague who sneezed into their hand? (yuck!)
This is why it’s so important to wash your hands regularly, especially before eating or drinking. Cold and flu viruses commonly enter the body when we touch our faces, nose, mouth or eyes with infected hands. A bottle of hand sanitizer should always be in your pocket at work during the winter months. You should also wipe down your phone regularly, too just to be on the safe side.
With a little preparation and a healthy lifestyle, you can enjoy the best of winter without the discomfort and irritation of a cold!