Winter is on its way and seems to be bringing with it an increase in COVID-19 cases across the country. Staying healthy during the colder months of the year is usually a big concern, as flu and cold cases tend to spike around this time. This year, the pandemic makes it even more important to focus on ways to stay healthy. As you get ready to spend much of the next few months hunkered down at home, there are several things you can do to protect your health and wellness, both physically and mentally.
Wash Your Hands
One of the best things you can do to get rid of the germs that cause the common cold, flu, and other infections is to wash your hands frequently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend washing your hands when you're preparing food, before you eat, after you sneeze or cough, after using the bathroom, and after handling garbage. The CDC also suggests washing your hands after you've been in any public places and have touched high-touch surfaces, such as door handles or shopping carts.
If you have access to soap and water, lather up and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Make sure to get between your fingers and under your nails when you scrub. If you don't have access to soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol content. Apply the sanitizer to your hands and rub until it has completely dried.
Although the temperatures tend to be colder in the winter and the sun sets earlier, it's still important to get outside and get some sun as much as possible. Some people experience symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression. When someone has SAD, they tend to sleep more than usual and might overeat or become socially withdrawn.
Even if you don't have SAD, a lack of sunlight in the winter months can throw off your sleep cycle and generally leave you feeling blah. When possible, bundle up and go for a walk in the morning to get the sunlight your body craves.
Take Care of Your Skin
Winter's dry, cold air can leave you with irritated, flaky, and otherwise unhappy skin. During the winter, you might need to switch to a heavier moisturizer to lock in hydration and keep your skin happy.
Also, remember to always wear sun protection, even if you're spending less time outdoors during the winter. The sun's rays can still harm your skin, leading to premature wrinkles and other signs of aging. Keep on wearing an SPF every day, even when it's cloudy or you'll only be outside for a few minutes.
Busy schedules closed gyms, and cold temperatures can make getting enough exercise this winter a challenge. But it's worth it to put in the effort, as exercise not only keeps you strong and helps protect your organs, it also helps you feel less stressed and happier overall. If exercising outdoors if out of the question, there are plenty of videos available on YouTube to get you moving, ranging from yoga sessions to high-intensity interval training.
A lot of winter foods tend to be heavy and starchy, full of carbs and fats. Although it's OK to indulge in some comfort food from time to time, it's also important to make an effort to eat a healthy diet. Keep eating whole grains, lean proteins, and fruits and vegetables so that your body gets the nutrients it needs and to help boost your immune system.
Get a Flu Shot
While a vaccine for COVID isn't yet available, a vaccine for the flu is. If you haven't done so already, it's vital that you get a flu shot this winter. The more people who are protected against the flu, the less strain there will be on hospital systems, who are going to be trying to treat both COVID and flu patients this year.
Shorter days and increased restrictions can make it harder to connect with your friends and family, including the people who might be in your pod or bubble. For the sake of your mental and emotional well-being, make every effort to stay social. Even a short call to a friend on a stressful day can help you feel better.
Learning a new skill or training for a new career can help you stay healthy and feel better this winter. Request information about the esthetician or massage therapist programs at Cortiva Institute Massage Therapy & Skin Care School to learn more about how to enroll.