Instead of getting cosy and hibernating this winter – yes, we know it's tempting – why not take the opportunity to focus on your health instead. Fortunately, there are several simple habits you can put into practice to improve your overall wellbeing. And you don't even have to leave the house for three of our five suggestions!
Get enough sleep
Good quality sleep is essential to our health and wellbeing and according to Sleep foundation, "lack of sleep has been linked to a higher risk for certain diseases and medical conditions. These include obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, poor mental health, and early death." If you're not getting your recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night – and only about 70% of South Africa adults currently are (Sleep cycle) – take positive steps to improve the situation. Your health is counting on it!
Wash your hands regularly
Washing our hands with soap and water is something we've all become used to since the start of Covid. And it remains one of the most effective ways to avoid the spread of germs during winter. Always lather up before and after handling or eating food, after using the restroom, and if you're caring for a sick friend or relative. To make sure your hands are squeaky clean, wash them for 20 seconds or as long as it takes for you to sing 'happy birthday' twice.
Tick off your health checks
If you haven't completed your annual health checks – blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol – make it a priority to get them done this winter. And while you're at it, get your waist circumference checked as carrying extra weight around your middle is a risk factor for both cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Ideally, waist circumference measurements should be less than 80 cm for women and less than 94 cm for men.
Regular exercise is known to increase energy levels, boost your mood, control your weight, improve your sleep, and much more. So it's important to keep moving, come rain or shine. Exercising outdoors during winter is also an excellent way to keep your vitamin D levels up. And that's important because without the "sunshine vitamin", your body is unable to absorb calcium, which is essential for strong, healthy bones.
Carve out time for yourself
Taking time out from the busyness of life is critical for mental health – especially in winter, when being stuck indoors can affect happiness levels. Need some inspiration? Try listening to music, practising yoga or mindfulness, reading a good book, spending time with your favourite people or exercising. If you're someone who thrives in an organised space, you may even find that taking an hour or two to declutter your office or home is time well spent.