Stay healthier during this winter’s cold months

You probably already know you should get a flu shot, stay home when you’re sick and bundle in layers for your long trek to class in the snow. But here’s a few more things you could be doing to fight off winter’s nasty side effects and make you healthier during the cold.

Limit hot showers

Sorry folks–we know cooler temperatures can make long showers in the hottest water you can get sound extra appealing, but the short-term comfort can lead to long-term dry skin. Extremely hot water can strip away your skin’s natural oils, making it feel dry and flakey. Dry skin leads to cracked skin. That being said…

Moisturize!

Dry skin is one of the biggest pet peeves for many people during the winter months (those days with a 20 degree wind chill don’t exactly bode well for healthy skin). If you feel like your skin is taking a beating every time you step outside, it’s time to moisturize. The two places most likely to become a hassle are your hands and face, but consider getting separate lotions. Some body lotions are too heavy for the delicate skin on your face, which can lead to breakouts. And if you’re not a fan of cracked, bleeding lips, it’s time for you to make lip balm your best friend.

Wash your hands. Please.

Stocking up on hand sanitizer to stay healthy? Then you’ll really want to add a hand lotion to the mix. Antibacterials are great for fighting cold and flu germs, but it can dry out your hands like crazy. Good old soap and water is sometimes more effective when it comes to staying healthy.

Speaking of cold and flu…

At the risk of sounding like a nagging mother, you should really be drinking water. And yes, we’re talking a few glasses a day. You may not be as thirsty as you are in the warmer months, but staying hydrated helps you ward off illness and makes you look better physically (it helps you look less tired and have better skin). You may already know that alcohol dehydrates you, but coffee and tea (anything with caffeine, really) have the same effect, so try to have a glass of water with every glass of your favorite pick-me-up.

Use a humidifier.

The cold air outside wreaks havoc on your skin, but the heat indoors can make waking up with a dry, sore throat a common occurrence even when you aren’t sick. Solution? Consider using a humidifier. It adds moisture back into the air, which keeps you feeling hydrated and more alert. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and quiet enough that you’ll hardly notice them when you’re sleeping.

Static, shmatic.

Good news – your skin isn’t the only part of your appearance that can take a hit during the winter. Hair has a tendency to dry out, frizz and face more static than a balloon in a science experiment. Much like your skin, the way you take care of your hair can make a huge difference. If you can manage, try to cut back on heat-treating your hair with straighteners and blow dryers (they’re bad for your hair year round anyway). In the colder months hair gets weaker, meaning brittle hair is more likely to split or break. Consider using a deep conditioning treatment to restore natural oils and moisture, and try to cover hair with a hat or scarf out in chilly temperatures.

Don’t let the weather overwhelm you.

Stress levels, along with anxiety and depression, skyrocket in the winter months. Mental health is just as important as physical health, so if you find constant snow and grey skies seeming to drain you of energy or you feel like you’re suffering form cabin fever, make time to exercise. Whether in a gym, with friends, or in a class, staying active gives you more energy and can significantly improve your mood. Similarly, making an effort to not go overboard on comfort foods is wise – they’ll make you tired and can result in weight gain, neither of which do much for stress.

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