Cold dark winter months leave our bodies more susceptible to colds and flu, but here are some expert tips from Rachel Balmforth, matron at Spire Leeds Hospital, for keeping aches, pains, sniffles and sneezes at bay…
Wash your hands
Warm water and soap kills germs. Try to wash for at least 20 seconds. If using a public washroom, use a paper towel to dry hands and to turn off the taps to avoid contact with surfaces.
Eat the right foods
Include fruit and vegetables in your meals. Enjoy lean meat, fish and poultry. Winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, swede and turnips can be roasted, mashed or made into soup.
Drink at least eight glasses of water a day; cold or boiled with a slice of lemon. It flushes out toxins, and the moisture helps to make the mucous membranes in your sinuses more resistant to bacteria.
Get a good night’s sleep
Regular sleep is vital to staying healthy. Aim for about seven to eight hours of sleep a night and make sure your bedroom is cool (18.5C), dark and quiet. Turn off the TV, computers and mobile phones.
Fight winter tiredness with regular exercise
Try to reach the recommended goal of 150 minutes’ exercise a week. Exercise in the late afternoon helps reduce early evening fatigue, and also improves your sleep.
If you’re finding it hard to get out of bed it’s down to lack of sunlight. You produce more of a hormone called melatonin, which makes you sleepy. Try to get outdoors and get as much natural daylight as possible.
Smokers are more susceptible to the upper respiratory infections which strike in winter. Now is a good time to stop and clear your airways.
Keep work surfaces germ free
Computer keyboards, telephones, door handles and even pens are all surfaces that could harbour cold or flu germs from a few seconds to 48 hours. Use antiseptic wipes to regularly clean desktops and keep your work area a germ-free area.
Find time to relax
Stress makes you feel fatigued. Calm down with meditation, yoga, exercise and breathing exercises.
And if you do get sick, keep your distance, stay home, don’t do anything strenuous, rest up, eat well, drink plenty of fluids and you should be back to normal within days.