We are certainly in the depths of winter. The winter season can be busy and exciting especially with many events and parties, as well as all the preparation and planning for Christmas Day itself. This busyness and distractions can keep us from focusing on our health and taking care of ourselves as we would normally.

With shorter days and colder weather, finding the motivation to stay healthy and fit can be difficult. Here are some winter wellness tips:

  1. Get Outside

With dropped temperatures and short days, it can be all too tempting to stay inside on the sofa cosying up in your PJs and binge-watching your favourite TV show. It’s important to make it a priority to get outside as spending time in nature has been proven to reduce stress levels, increases energy, and improve mood, among many other health benefits. Furthermore, it’s especially important during the winter months, when it’s more difficult to get the recommended daily amount of vitamin D, and seasonal affective disorder is common.

  • Calm Your Carb Cravings

The cold season tends to ignite our cravings for more carbs and comfort food as they cause serotonin levels rise, making your brain think you are happier in an attempt to beat the winter blues. To counter this, try eating a protein-packed breakfast to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. However, increasing your serotonin levels by getting outdoors or exercising are some of the best ways to beat the carb cravings.

  • Add Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are a healthy type of fat that are naturally found in many food types including fish, plant seeds and nuts. Omega 3 fatty acids are great for reducing joint pain and stiffness as they are a natural anti-inflammatory. Studies have also shown that omega 3 fatty acids help lower levels of depression, which people commonly feel during the shorter days of winter.

  • Eat More Green and Orange Vegetables 

Sticking primarily to vegetables and fruits that are dark green and orange is important in ensuring you’re getting healthy nutrients, sugars and fats. Spinach, kale, squash, carrots and oranges are all delicious during the winter. There are plenty of recipes available to incorporate these items into your regular winter diet. 

  • Bring up the heat 

Onions, garlic, ginger and chilli are the perfect items to add flavour to your dishes (especially those with green and orange vegetables in ;) ). Not only do they make food taste great, but they’re also shown to help improve immune function and may help to reduce inflammation.

  • Avoid the dreaded Cold & Flu Germs

It’s really obvious one but make sure you up your hand washing routine especially in shared spaces and after using public transport.  Anti-bacterial hand gels have become popular in recent years but watch how much you use them as they can dry out your hands so try and stick with good old fashioned soap and warm water where possible. It’s also not too late to get a flu jab to protect yourself from flu and to help stop the spread of flu to others.

  • Rest Up!

As aforementioned, the lack of daylight can really leave us feeling sluggish. To ensure you are ready for the day ahead, make sure you always get at least 8 hours sleep. Make sure you are really listening to your body and if it is calling for rest take it without feeling a sense of guilt.

Lucy O’Toole teaches a Saturday morning Yoga for Sport class

Join her weekly 8.30am at Studio iO.