Winter wellbeing – how to take extra care this winter

With a potential ‘winter of discontent’ on its way, here are some positive, proactive ways you can take care of your physical and mental wellbeing this year, courtesy of award-winning author and wellbeing expert, Liggy Webb.

Winter Wellbeing - A-Plan Insurance

Many of us are guilty of heading into winter only thinking about when we should put the heating on, and Christmas. But things are different this year. You may not have thought about getting your body and mind ‘winter-ready’ before, but this year it’s more important than ever to put this first.

Liggy Webb helps people to be more resilient and equip themselves for the future – to help us all function better as human beings. We enlisted Liggy’s help to share some useful tips and refreshing insights with you, to help you take good care of yourself this winter.

How well prepared are you for winter?

Have you stopped to think about:

  • Your attitude to winter – is it positive or negative from the outset?
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder – it’s challenging but preparing early can relieve symptoms
  • Your immune system – getting enough Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), Vitamin C and Echinacea can help
  • Getting your flu jab – it’s best to get this every Autumn, but now is a good time if you haven’t had it yet.

“If you haven’t considered these yet, you are unlikely to have thought about how to tackle hybrid working, stress levels, resting and improving your environment this winter,” says Liggy.

“With more stressors impacting our wellbeing this year, there are some very simple practices you can put in place early, which could make a huge difference to your wellbeing.”

How to be well this winter

Embrace the season

It’s easy to feel negative with everything that is going on, from the economy to war in the Ukraine, without adding negative feelings about winter to the mix. But challenge yourself to take a different view on the season if you are not a fan, or simply haven’t really thought about it.

“There are lots of positives to consider,” suggests Liggy. “From breathing in lungs full of fresh cold air to feel rejuvenated and refreshed, to the snuggly moments in the evening.

Winter is also a time where the world quietens down, ready to come back to life in the spring, and we can learn from that as well and embrace a little quiet time in our own lives.

“Help yourself by focusing on things to be grateful for, people don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer if they’re happy.”

Hybrid working is a blessing and a curse!

While it certainly helps with the increased cost of a commute, ensuring good winter-hygiene is important for those who work from home – as it’s incredibly tempting to stay in until Spring!

Liggy advises; “Get up, shower and dress, and make sure you are prepared for the day ahead. Consider a Lumie alarm clock lamp to wake you up, or to place on your desk. Even better, position your desk in front of a window, to get as much natural light as you can – it’s important to prescribe yourself plenty of light over the winter months.

“I often suggest that hybrid workers throw in a ‘fake commute’ around the block before and after work, to get you moving.”

Manage your stress levels

Although we can’t do much about external factors, it’s important to manage – and reduce – our stress levels over winter, particularly considering the impact cortisol can have on the immune systems.

“When we dread a time of year, we can get quite anxious and lots of uncertainty is adding to this. The most important relationship that any of us have in our lives is with stress – how it manifests in us as human beings, how we manage it, all helps to support a strong immune system.

“It’s important to develop healthy coping mechanisms – we need some stress to galvanise us, but too much can lead to burnout! In the words of Ovid, ‘a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop’, so take this time to rest.”

Get outdoors!

It’s too easy to stay inside during the winter months – so getting outside at least once a day should be on your daily to do list.

“It’s vital to get exercise, fresh air, and the maximum amount of daylight for vitamin and energy levels.” Explains Liggy. “It can also be a rare opportunity to forget technology, work, meetings and other stressors.”

“Thinking about nature and being part of it has an enormous impact on our health! Nature focusses our minds on appreciating everything around us. Listen to the breeze in the trees, smells, sounds… it is well known that connecting with nature triggers serotonin and other happy chemicals in our brains.

“If you really can’t get out, at least open the windows and let fresh air in! We are all conserving energy this winter, but we still need fresh air in our homes for wellbeing.”

Liggy Webb - Winter Wellness

Focus on healthy eating

Christmas treat temptation is everywhere! This year, it’s important to discipline yourself to stay healthy, and make it a little easier to make the right choices.

Liggy advises, “There is a saying, ‘let food be thy medicine and medicine by thy food’ – it’s good advice!

  • Chop up your favourite fruit and veg in advance as a convenient snack.
  • Reduce refined sugar. Research shows 100g sugar consumed in one sitting can suppress the immune system for up to 5 hours!
  • Watch your alcohol intake – 14 units of alcohol a week is a guideline, and one large glass of wine is 3 units. Ensure you have several alcohol-free days to give your liver a break – and to ward off depression.
  • Drink two litres of water a day – it’s great for energy levels, flushes out toxins, good for skin and the immune system, and it’s free. Add your favourite fruit to it, hot or cold, and try new flavours, such as grated ginger with lemon, or herbal teas without caffeine.
  • Vitamins C, D, and Echinacea can be helpful, but speak to your GP first if you are on medication.

Adopt the hygge mindset

Hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-gah’) celebrates the Danish way of embracing winter in a sensory way: visually, via sounds, sense of touch via a calm, snuggly environment.

“They burn more candles than anywhere else,” confirms Liggy. “Why not try some soya candles (better for the environment), and a diffuser for burning aromatherapy oils – and drink hot chocolate or ginger and lemon during a time-out. It really can transform your winter into something special, at very little expense!

It’s also worth reflecting on loneliness. Winter can bring with it some extra difficulties, particularly around Christmas time. Reach out and support others this year – as the Japanese proverb says, ‘one kind word can warm three winter months’.

There are plenty of charitable activities running across our branches for you to get involved in, to stay active, and help make a difference to others. With the stress and strain of everyday life, it’s also so important to put your personal health first – you may want to consider a private healthcare option to keep you tip top in 2023.

Why not contact your local branch and find out what they are collecting for this season and get involved, or simply ask them about private healthcare options. We’re here to help! Find your local branch here.