5 Ways To Ensure a Strong Immune System This Winter
Autumn, as a prelude to the cold winter months soon to follow, is an important time to ensure we are keeping our immune system as strong and healthy as possible. A strong immune system this winter is our best defence against the array of cold and flu viruses that seem to make the rounds as the colder weather makes its comeback.
2020 is a little different in that, not only do you need to make sure we are keeping ourselves protected against the regular things that are always around, but now there’s the COVID-19 virus to deal with as well. As the scientific advice is that the virus is likely to be extra virulent during the cold winter months, now is the time to ensure our immune system is as strong as possible.
Although there is clearly still a lot to learn about COVID and why people can be affected so differently, research clearly shows that a strong immune system that reacts immediately to the virus attack is the best form of defence. Although specific groups of people such as BAME communities seem to have been disproportionately affected during the first stages of the pandemic, the largest group of people to have suffered major complications and/or who have died are the elderly and those with existing health conditions: in other words, people who have a weakened immune system.
There has never been a more important time to ensure a strong immune system.
Anyone in a high-risk category should be taking extra precautions in terms of keeping protected and avoiding contact with others as much as possible, but they should also be doing as much as possible to ensure a strong immune system this winter.
But, unfortunately, many people who are self-isolating are struggling mentally and emotionally and this is leading to bad habits creeping in such as eating highly processed foods, sugar-laden biscuits and cakes, too much alcohol and virtually no exercise, all of which weaken the immune system and increases their risk of severe complications should they get COVID.
However, regardless of this virus, keeping a strong immune during winter, and building good habits that can help protect you on an ongoing basis, is simply something that’s a good idea at any time, especially if you have a busy lifestyle that doesn’t really allow for days spent in bed or if you have people in your immediate family who would find it more difficult to shake off a cold, flu, or COVID-19.
So, to help ensure you have a strong immune system this winter, here are 5 of our favourite tips:
Get Plenty Of Sleep:
On average, it’s recommended that an adult should be getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night, however, this is usually nowhere near what most of us are getting thanks to busy lifestyles and things like stress and anxiety causing insomnia.
Even if you can’t manage or don’t feel like you need the recommended 8 hours, maintaining a good sleep routine is something that will have massive positive effects on your overall physical and mental health.
Reducing caffeine intake later in the day, and also keeping your bedroom comfortable, dimly lit and free from things like phones or TV at night can make a big difference to how well you sleep.
In modern life, and especially in this current climate, a little bit of stress is something that’s normal for most of us. However, when it starts to become problematic and take over life it can lead to both physical and mental illness, which in turn can really have a negative impact on our immune system, so finding ways to keep stress levels to a minimum is always a good idea.
Taking time for self-care is a great way to reduce your stress levels and keep healthy, so even if it’s just finding an hour to grab some ‘me time’ with a book, or relaxing music and a cup of tea, especially green tea, is a great start.
Going for a walk in the countryside or by the sea is always a good way of relieving stress, or maybe you have a hobby such as gardening you could focus on.
If things are really getting on top of you, taking a whole day out on your own and ensuring you spend time relaxing without pandering to other people’s needs is often extremely effective. You could even treat yourself to a day at a wellness centre or retreat and maybe enjoy the relaxing experience of a float tank such as that at Float Space. Maybe you could add a wellness day to your Christmas present list?
Having a healthy, balanced diet is something that’s important for maintaining a strong immune system all year round, but even more so in winter. Eating a predominantly plant-based whole food diet and fresh and seasonal food is the basis of a diet that can help build your immune system.
Of course, having a takeaway once in a while isn’t a big deal, but for the most part, making sure you’re getting plenty of vitamins in your food by eating fresh fruit and vegetables is really going to help.
And did you know that you can even reduce anxiety with your food choices?
One of the main keys to keeping a healthy lifestyle and having a strong immune system is staying active. This doesn’t mean you need to be at the gym every day, but even wrapping up in warm clothes and taking a 20-minute walk each day will go a long way to keeping you healthy.
Remember that the best form of exercise is one that you enjoy! Dancing and gardening, for example, are also great forms of exercise.
Even if you have limited mobility, it doesn’t mean you can’t exercise as this help guide to chair exercises and simple fitness tips shows.
We hope this post was helpful in giving you some ideas for how you can start boosting your immune system so that you can get through winter safely, healthily, and with as much energy as possible.