With the winter months upon us, it’s important to remember to keep looking after ourselves both physically and mentally. The immune system is the body’s defence mechanism and doesn’t work independently to the rest of your body. It can respond positively to certain lifestyle choices and negatively to others.
Sunlight plays an important role in our bodies’ internal clocks, and can have a major effect on our sleep cycle. Exposure to lower levels of sunlight can cause a release in melatonin, the sleep hormone. This can result in the temperature of our bodies lowering, making us sleepy and ready for bed. To battle the symptoms of ‘winter tiredness’ while the days are shorter, make sure to get outside every day for a good natural dose of vitamin D.
Keeping this in mind, with the shorter cooler days our bodies naturally need more sleep. Try going to bed 30 minutes earlier than you normally would. When your body is sleep deprived, it is more susceptible to illness. You should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a day. This is valuable time that allows your body to replenish and repair from the stresses and exertions of the day.
We all know how important drinking water is to stay hydrated in the summer when the weather is hot. However, we often forget to keep up this practice in the colder months of the year. Keeping your body hydrated helps to flush the impurities from your body and allows your immune system to function efficiently. The recommended intake of water is eight glasses per day.
It’s easy to fall into a habit of eating heavier and stodgier meals to warm us up and fill our stomachs during the winter period. People often increase their intake of carbohydrates and sugar during winter, which can compromise the immune system. It’s important to remember to keep fruit and other vegetables in our diet, and hold on to a balanced nutrition. Vitamin C is great boost for your immune system, which can suffer during the colder times of the year. Try to keep fruit and vegetables like lemons, kiwi fruit, peppers and broccoli that are high in vitamin C, in your diet.
Getting some gentle exercise everyday can be very beneficial both physically and mentally. Walking, swimming or cycling for half an hour a day is a great way of supporting a healthy mood and energy levels. Exercise increases the level of leukocytes in the body; these are the immune system cells that fight infection. Staying active can help prevent illness by improving blood circulation, thus distributing white blood cells and antibodies throughout your system.
Being stressed and unhappy can result in you having a less active and less efficient immune response. During winter there are often bugs and illnesses about, so it’s vital to keep your immune system in tiptop shape to fight away any infection. During this time of year people can naturally turn inward and become more isolated, reluctant to go out in the colder weather. At least once a week, make a date with friends of family to keep your spirits high.