Autumn Health Tips to Prepare for Winter
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Winter is almost here, so the annual cold and flu season has arrived. After the summer’s heat, you’re ready for a break in the weather, but why do stuffy noses and sniffles have to be part of the equation?
Fortunately, you can reduce your chances of seasonal illness by taking proactive steps to safeguard your health. Although there are no guarantees, you can whip your immune system into shape and create an environment discouraging germ spread. How? Here are eight autumn health tips to help you prepare for winter.
1. Take Your Vitamins
You might have heard that certain nutrients can shorten a cold’s duration. Scientists have found evidence to support vitamin C’s efficacy, but it won’t do you a lick of good to supplement after you already feel like death warmed over. For these remedies to work, you must take them at the first sign of symptoms, preferably before. Your best bet? Start supplementing now and eat more foods rich in the nutrient, like the following:
- Bell peppers (especially red ones)
- Citrus fruits
- Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower
- White potatoes
Zinc is another nutrient to get plenty of this time of year. The same rule applies — don’t delay a supplement. Get some in your system now by consuming more of these foods:
- Whole grains
Another benefit of nuts is that they’re high in magnesium and selenium, crucial nutrients for nourishing psychological health. Try to eat more nuts and seeds if you’re prone to the winter blues. Finally, you need to get more vitamin D, especially if you live above 37° latitude, like much of the United States.
Your skin can’t make enough, especially during winter, so consider a supplement to bolster your immune function. Avoid artificial flavoring, added salt and sugar to clean up your diet.
2. Switch Up Your Fitness Routine
You might be born to run, but it’s a downright dangerous activity when three feet of snow are on the ground. What can you do if the mere thought of a treadmill bores you to tears? Welcome to the wide world of indoor sports and fitness.
Why not try out a new class or two at your local gym when the weather’s foul? Cross-training is an excellent way to break through plateaus and you might meet a new friend or two in a group setting. No money for a membership?
Don’t worry — you can find plenty of fitness classes streaming for free on YouTube, although you’ll miss the social aspect somewhat. However, many content creators love it when you interact with them in the comments — it helps the algorithms.
Check out your local YMCA, too. Many have more affordable memberships than commercial gyms and often contain swimming pools. Perhaps this year will be the one when you train for that triathlon?
3. Get a Handle on Your Schedule
Winter means the holiday season — your schedule grows tighter as the days shorten. All that hustle and bustle can lead to an inordinate amount of stress.
Keep from going crazy by getting a handle on your schedule now. If you aren’t yet in the habit, a planner is invaluable. Sit down each Sunday and chart your week, including time for exercise and self-care.
Now’s also the time to brush up on boundary setting and learn how to say no assertively yet politely. Rehearse phrases such as, “I can come but only stay for an hour,” and “I can only wait ten minutes, max if you’re late.” Get comfortable communicating your limits with statements like, “I’m not comfortable discussing that,” so that you’re ready to deal with your inevitably boorish uncle at family gatherings.
4. Keep Toasty
Can the cold make you sick? No. Temperatures don’t directly cause illness — you need a germ to do that. However, frigid weather affects your immune system, lowering your resistance to the bacteria and viruses you encounter.
A practical autumn health tip is to find ways to get warm, especially if you’re struggling with heating costs. Consider investigating the following resources if you’re having a hard time:
- Federal aid: You may be eligible for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). You automatically qualify as a SNAP or SSI recipient and veterans and those on other assistance programs may be eligible.
- State aid: Some states and municipalities also have programs to help low-income individuals. Call 211 to find available resources in your area.
- Investigate alternative heaters: Today’s space heaters are safer than ever, although you still need to follow rules like unplugging them when you leave the room. You also have options like biofuel and kerosene.
- Create a dedicated “heat” space: Choose one well-insulated room and have everyone gather within to preserve body heat. You might also try a dual tent set up in your living room to trap your warmth while you sleep.
Please dress in layers when traveling back and forth from indoors to outdoors. You’ll be able to maintain a more constant core temperature by shedding what you don’t need upon arrival.
5. Care for Your Indoor Air
Winter means spending more time indoors and that means sharing airspace. If you haven’t changed your HVAC filters for a while, please do so. A fresh one can help reduce airborne contaminants — it’s also wise to swap these out upon recovering from a cold. After that, do so every three months, more often if you have pets or smokers in residence.
Furthermore, consider investing in a humidifier. Why? Your mucous membranes are your first line of defense against germs, and dry, indoor air leaves them parched. You’re more likely to get sick without this thick coating in your nasal passages. Keep them moist with a little water.
For an extra goodness boost, why not go for a combo device that includes aromatherapy? Certain scents, like eucalyptus, activate scent receptors in your nose that travel to your brain, prompting it to ramp up your immune function.
6. Go Outside as Much as Possible
As much as you might like to hibernate this winter, please resist the urge. Getting outdoors more has oodles of benefits. For one, it helps stave off seasonal depression by exposing you to natural sunlight, the best antidote for this condition.
Furthermore, getting out for a stroll in the woods could improve your immune system. Research on forest bathers indicates that human immunity kicks into high gear when exposed to the phytoncides trees and other plants emit.
7. Winterize Your Automobile
What does winterizing your automobile have to do with autumn health tips? If you’ve ever seen your life flash before your eyes after hitting a patch of black ice, you understand.
What should you do? Please take the following steps:
- Schedule service: Get an oil and filter change and have your technician check the battery and hoses. Cold temperatures can drain one and crack the others. Replace the oil with one rated for cold temperatures.
- Switch your tires: Consider switching to snow tires and obey chain regulations if applicable in your area.
- Wax your baby: Snow and ice can take a toll on your car’s exterior, and a fresh coat of wax can prevent some damage.
- Unfreeze: Spray silicone in door locks to keep them from freezing and ensure you have plenty of antifreeze.
8. Find Support and Coping Resources
Finally, seasonal affective disorder is a real condition. Approximately ten million Americans suffer from this more severe form of the winter blues, but few seek help.
Look for online support groups — they’re often more convenient when the weather is foul. If you can afford it, consider talking to your doctor. They can refer you to psychiatric care or prescribe an antidepressant to help you get through the season.
Autumn Health Tips
Fall is traditionally the time for getting ready for winter. You might not be a squirrel, but you can take proactive steps to safeguard your well-being.
Follow the autumn health tips above to get ready for the cold season. Your hard work will pay off in a healthier, happier winter.