With winter in full swing, these cooler months can often mean viruses like colds and flus are going around. People with disabilities may be at greater risk of sickness due to vulnerability with their immune, respiratory and other body systems. We explore six things you can do to stay healthy this winter – physically and mentally.
1. Maintain good hygiene
Good hygiene has been in the news a lot since COVID-19. With the recent outbreak in VIC and NSW, maintaining good hygiene is one of your best defense against viruses as it helps to reduce the spread of colds and flu. Make sure you:
- Wash your hands (or use sanitiser) regularly
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue
- Throw away used tissues in the bin right away
- Avoid sharing cups, drink bottles, and/or cutlery
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Maintaining social distancing measures
This Department of Health page has information about good hygiene for protecting yourself and others against COVID-19.
2. Stay Warm and Indoors
A drop in temperature can affect your body’s ability to fend off infection, so staying warm can help you to stay well during winter.
Some ways to do this include:
- Rugging up – stay warm throughout the day by dressing in layers that can be peeled off as it warms up and added back as it cools down again. Choose clothes made of wool or fleecy synthetic fibres where possible.
- Heat your home – if it gets cold where you live, you might want to heat the rooms you use in your home. Heat your living areas in the day, and turn the heater on in your bedroom before going to bed to give the room enough time to warm up.
- Staying indoors – With lockdowns in place for the Greater Sydney area, it is also in your best interest to stay indoors unless you have a reasonable excuse to leave home – these reasons can be found here.
3. Eat nourishing foods
While there’s no such thing as a diet that will keep you sickness-free, you can support good health by eating a wide variety of foods from the five food groups.
Deficiency in certain nutrients may make you more susceptible to illness, so make sure you get enough:
- Vitamin C – found in most fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, berries, blackcurrants, kiwifruit, tomatoes, sprouts, broccoli, and capsicum.
- Zinc – found in animal products and many nuts and seeds, with good sources including oysters, lamb, beef, pumpkin seeds, crab, tasty cheese, almonds and rolled oats.
- Iron – meat sources include red meats, offal, poultry, and fish. Non-meat sources include eggs, nuts, dried fruit, wholemeal bread/pasta, iron-fortified bread/breakfast cereal, legumes, dark leafy greens, oats and tofu.
4. Stay well-hydrated
Your body is made up of somewhere between 50 and 80% water, so drinking enough is essential for good health. Your body needs water for its chemical processes, to absorb nutrients, to remove waste products, and to regulate body temperature. Water is important for lubricating your joints, preventing constipation, supporting cell growth, making hormones, and a healthy mouth.
Not having enough water, or dehydration can lead to various problems. Even minor dehydration can impact your physical and mental function.
Feeling hot tends to make you thirsty, but it’s equally important to stay well-hydrated in the cold. Try filling a bottle at the start of each day and keeping it handy to drink from. Sipping herbal teas and soups is also a great way to get extra hydration.
5. Keep Active
It can be tempting to skip your exercise routine but regular physical activity is vital for maintaining your physical and mental health.
If possible, rug up and get out for a walk or bike ride – exercise is a reasonable excuse during this lockdown to get outdoors! In bad weather, there are plenty of ways to exercise indoors. Some examples include rebounding on a mini-trampoline, boxing, dancing, or an indoor exercise routine.
If you have limited mobility that might impact how you exercise, or have any concerns about what type of exercise is right for you, talk to a health professional (such as your GP, physio or exercise physiologist) before getting started.
6. Follow health advice
If you’re unwell, check in with your doctor for advice. Get tested if you have the mildest of symptoms and even if you have been vaccinated. Your doctor can also advise you about things like vaccinations for the flu and COVID-19.
The Australian Government’s Department of Health website provides up-to-date health information. Visit www.health.gov.au to learn more about important health issues and topics.
Zest Personalised Care is a registered provider of NDIS disability support services with two decades of experience in the care industry. Please get in touch if you’d like any more information about how we work with individuals to achieve their goals.