Summer Fun in RecoveryThere are a few things that come to mind when you think of the winter months. Some of those probably include the holidays, being nestled up with your family by the fireplace, or fun activities like sled riding and ice skating. One thing that you might not consider, though, is the all too common illnesses that arrive alongside the cold weather.

At PT Family Medicine, we know that there's nothing worse than being down with a cold or flu during a time that should be spent being jolly with loved ones. That's why, in this article, we'll be sharing with you some of the best tips for winter health to ensure you stay healthy and happy during this season of sickness.

#1: Don't Underestimate Germ Transfer

When the temperature drops, we tend to spend more time indoors, often in close proximity to others. This is prime time for germs to make their rounds.
Common surfaces like door handles, remote controls, and smartphones become veritable petri dishes for bacteria and viruses. It’s easy to touch your face without thinking, inadvertently giving germs a free ride into your body.

To combat this, make hand hygiene a top priority. Wash your hands with soap and water regularly, especially after coming in from public places, and before meals. If soap and water aren’t readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Also, make it a habit to disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in your home, like countertops and children's toys, to further reduce the risk of germ transfer.

#2: Consider The Importance of Your Immune Health

Maintaining a strong and healthy immune system is your body’s natural defense against colds, the flu, and other respiratory illnesses. The trouble is that during the winter months, your immune system is at its most weak and vulnerable. This is part of the reason why winter is such a challenging time for your body to maintain full health.

One of the best ways to keep your immune system strong is to implement vitamins into your routine. This can be through the foods you eat, or in the form of supplements.

Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits, leafy greens, and other healthy foods, is known for its immune-boosting properties. Zinc, present in nuts and seeds, also plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy immune response. Don’t forget about vitamin D; its production can wane in the winter months due to shorter days and reduced sunlight exposure, so you might need to get it from your diet instead.

#3: Get Your Flu Shot

Speaking of your immune health, something that you certainly don't want to skip out on is ensuring that you're protected against the flu. Vaccinations are your first line of defense against many severe illnesses and diseases, but the flu shot is particularly important. This is because flu activity typically peaks between December and February.

Don't have your flu shot yet this season? Not to worry, here at PT Family Medicine we always keep them in stock. The flu virus is no joke, so don't hesitate to schedule an appointment today to protect yourself for the rest of the season.

#4: Layer Up And Keep Dry

While it's important to stay warm in the winter, wearing too many layers can cause you to sweat, which may make you feel even colder when the sweat evaporates. Instead, focus on wearing a few well-chosen layers that provide insulation and allow for moisture to escape. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep sweat off your skin, add an insulating layer like fleece to retain body heat, and finish with a waterproof, breathable outer layer to protect against the elements.

Remember, extremities such as fingers, toes, and ears are most susceptible to frostbite. Always wear gloves, warm socks, and a hat or earmuffs when you're outside in the cold. And if any of your clothing does get wet, change out of it as soon as possible.

#5: Stay Active, But Avoid Overexertion

When the cold weather starts to take its toll, the last thing that you probably want to do is engage in physical activity. But, not getting a sufficient amount of exercise can only spell out a lower likelihood of staying healthy during the winter. That's why, even if it feels like a chore, some level of exercise is highly necessary.

This exercise, though, doesn't have to be a chore! For instance, you and a family member can take a short walk around your neighborhood to check out your neighbor's holiday lights. Even something as simple and occasional as this can be enough to help you stay healthy. Establishing healthy habits like semi-frequent exercise early on in the season can help you have the highest chances of keeping fit through the winter!

That said, don't engage in so much physical activity that you begin to over-exert yourself. You can only reap the benefits of this kind of activity when done properly. Otherwise, the constant movement in tandem with lowered immunity can negatively affect you in the long run.

#6: Get Plenty of Sleep

There are a lot of moving parts that most people have to manage during the holiday season. Getting the family together, cleaning up the house for guests, and being on the move in the colder weather can all factor into exhaustion. Unfortunately, exhaustion is a best friend of illness, and it might just be the thing to get you sick this season.

That's why another key tip to stay healthy in the winter is to get plenty of rest. This means eight hours a night, as best as you can achieve it. Getting enough sleep allows your body to repair cells, enter a REM cycle in the brain, and heal any oncoming ailments before they become bigger issues.

#7: Try To Reduce Stress Levels

The last of our tips to help you stay safe during the winter is to try, as best as you can, to concentrate on your mental health. Sometimes, the stress of the holidays can feel like more than you can bear. Shopping for presents for your family and friends, juggling your budget, and keeping track of everything else can take a huge toll.

Remember, in the end, that the holidays are about togetherness. Try to take some time to direct your mental energy toward fun activities and bonding instead of your responsibilities. The state of your mental health will certainly thank you for it!

Under The Weather? PT Family Medicine Can Help!

It doesn't always matter how many times you wash your hands or whether or not you drank enough water. Sometimes getting sick is inevitable, regardless of any and all prevention tactics. When this happens, it's important that you have a trustworthy and reliable primary care physician to visit.

If you are interested in learning more about primary care during the winter season, how to get a flu shot, or are simply searching for a new primary care provider, you can contact our team of highly skilled physicians at PT Family Medicine for personalized care, or schedule an appointment directly from our website today.