It can often be a challenge to stay healthy during the winter months.  The temperature drops, viruses seem to pop up everywhere and we tend to move less and crave more comfort food like lasagne or slow cooked curries.  Here’s some easy tips to keep you healthy this winter:

Keep your home safe whilst staying warm

More than 40% of all deaths from fire happen during winter so it’s important to follow these simple points to remain safe:

  • Install smoke detectors or check and replace batteries in existing ones
  • Check heaters and electric blankets are in good working condition before using. If using an unflued gas heater make sure your room is well ventilated and don’t locate it in a bedroom, bathroom or any other small rooms without permanent ventilation as they can cause harmful toxic gases
  • Don’t leave an open fire or candle unattended and keep fabrics such as curtains away
  • Teach children fire safety - visit the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services for resources
  • Ensure your fireplace is in working order before using and only burn untreated timber
  • Use warm not boiling water in hot water bottles

To keep the heat in, keep your curtains drawn and doors closed to prevent draughts, enjoy a hot drink and warm meal and layer up when it comes to clothing.  Layering provides the option to remove layers should you need to cool down.  Mould can thrive due to the darkness and rain in winter so it’s important to have good ventilation, keep surfaces dry and clean and adequately heat rooms to avoid health conditions. 

Prioritise your health

The shorter days and cooler temperatures mean we are less active, with the lure of Netflix and the couch extremely strong on weekends.  It’s important to try and continue exercising by finding a new routine, changing the timing of your exercise or even exercising indoors.  Seize opportunities for incremental exercise such as taking the stairs instead of the lift or getting up from your desk at work for a regular walk.

With the cold weather it’s easy to eat comfort food and forget to drink plenty of water.  Remember to keep hydrated as your body still needs the same amount of water in winter as it does in summer.   It’s also important to eat healthily to provide the right nutrients to fuel your body and stay healthy.   Prioritising sleep is also important.  Obtaining at least eight hours of sleep for adults and more for children and teenagers is necessary to stay healthy.

Avoid the flu and other infections

Although the flu season now seems to be year round, it’s typically more prevalent in the winter months along with the common cold and other viruses.  Cold and flu virus symptoms are similar but the flu is  more intense.  Antibiotics aren’t effective in fighting the flu as they target bacteria, not viruses.  The flu vaccination provides the best protection; plenty of rest is the best remedy if you have contracted the flu, though you may need to seek medical attention for further advice on how to manage your symptoms.

Hygiene is particularly important throughout the winter months to ensure germs aren’t spread.  It’s important to wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer regularly.  If you do have a cold throw away your tissues after each use and cough into your elbow to avoid spreading germs.  Above all, if you have a fever, stay home.

If you experience any flu like symptoms, contact your local GP and advise the clinic prior to arriving so they can isolate you if needed. 

For further information, contact your Sonic HealthPlus GP.  Find your nearest clinic location here.

Kate Rowan-Robinson
RN, BN, GradDipSexol, MACN

As a key member of the Clinical Governance Team leading our Nurses, Kate has also contributed to the wider nursing community through her work outside Sonic HealthPlus. Kate has had several articles published in the International Journal of Nursing Practice, Nursing Standard, British Journal of Community Nursing and Public Health Nursing.

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