Tips for keeping your body in shape, and your sanity in place, at the close of the year.

Written by Janet Hu

[Feature image by The New York Times]

Winter stress can throw your bodily rhythm “out of whack” for lack of a better term. You’re vying to meet end-of-the-year goals, burning through cash for travel and gifts, and eating way too much sugar.

But it is possible to maintain a healthy routine. 

Here are some winter health tips for keeping your body in shape, and your sanity in place, at the close of the year:

Don’t forget to sleep

We’re more susceptible to catching a cold or sickness this time of year. And sleep deprivation can suppress the immune system, decreasing our body’s ability to respond to infections.

That’s why we need around 7-8 hours of sleep a night, especially during flu season. 

Here are some winter health tips to help you sleep better and longer:

  • Turn off your phone an hour before going to bed. This will help your body wind down and prepare for a good night’s sleep. Make sure to remove any blue light, or artificial lighting from screens, as it can interrupt the sleep cycle.

  • If you suffer from any form of back pain, use a leg pillowbetween your legs while you sleep. This type of pillow helps to align the hips and knees so that your back feels less strained.

  • Invest in an allergy cover to decrease symptoms that prevent a good night’s sleep. Dust could be causing your eyes to itch or your sinuses to flare, leaving you with restless nights.

  • Set a routine for yourself. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time no matter what day it is. This sets up your internal clock so that your body is prepared to be awake during certain hours, preventing daytime fatigue. 

Be aware of your health

Sometimes we don’t have time to get that pesky cough checked out, but it’s important to take simple preventative measures. 

Here are some winter health tips on keeping your body in good health:

  • Your body mass index is a great way to assess your current physical state. A BMI calculatorcan tell if you are under, over, or hovering at a normal weight for your height. “Normal” is considered between 18.5-25.

  • We tend to pack on a few extra pounds during winter, which is normal. But a BMI that’s too high can come with health conditions like liver disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and some types of cancer.

  • Wash your hands after visiting retail or grocery stores,especially before you consume food or prepare any meals. Door handles and grocery carts are breeding grounds for germs and other harmful bacteria. Keep hand sanitizer in your car for easy on-the-go access to clean hands.

  • Get your flu shot. Some companies provide this to their employees for free. If not, go to your local pharmacy, and a licensed professional will administer the shot.

  • The flu can be very serious, especially for those with type 1 or 2 diabetes as well as for elderly adults, so encourage your loved ones to go as well. 

  • Drink lots of water even during the winter months. Your body needs it to function properly, so switch out that third beer for a tall glass of water. Water also helps manage weight, boosts your immune system, and prevents headaches

  • Try to practice portion controlwhile eating big meals throughout the holiday season. Grab one roll instead of two. Or maybe, try filling up on healthy snacks between meals. This way you’ll enjoy every meal with family and friends, and taste every dish, but you won’t be so ready to stock up on second and third servings

Travel safely and efficiently

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanuka, and New Years continue to be the most popular holidays that people travel for, driving or flying hundreds of miles. 

Here are some winter health tips for traveling safely and efficiently:

  • If you’re able to, pack only a carry-on when flying. This will save you the hassle of checking your bag and having to wait for it, or possibly losing it.

  • Try rolling your clothes to save space. If you’re going to your parents’ home, you probably won’t need to pack liquid toiletries. And even if you’re staying at a hotel, you can stop by a convenience store once you get to your destination. 

  • Bring snacks and always have water. Long car rides can take a toll on your body, so it’s important to keep yourself fueled up. Healthy snacks like granola bars, crackers, bananas, and yogurt can keep you tied over until the next rest stop if you’re driving. Use Ziploc baggies and Tupperware containers to ensure freshness and avoid a mess. Flying will dehydrate the body, so remember to drink plenty of water on the plane. 

  • Don’t forget to make time for sleep. If you plan on driving a long distance, you might consider Airbnb for an overnight stop. This allows your body to recharge in something other than a stiff car seat. Your legs need movement and space to really relax and rejuvenate.

Keep up with physical exercise

It can be hard to find motivation during winter. Excess snow, lots of travel, earlier sunsets and darker evenings make us feel like staying cozy on the couch. But it’s important to get your blood flowing and to work out your muscles.

Here are some winter health tips to get you back into the groove for exercise:

  • Utilize your living area. Have a living room? Well, roll out a yoga mat and get started. If the weather outside is crappy but you’re itching to do something and sweat a little, make your own gym inside. Simple exercises like Yoga, push-ups, and legwork can easily be done indoors.

  • Do research on gyms in your area to compare membership rates. Some gyms have a free trial, so you won’t have to commit to a monthly fee if you don’t like it. This could be a good option if you’re traveling and only need a short-term pass. The gym can also be a great escape from holiday chaos.

  • Schedule workouts into your week. Finding time to yourself can be difficult this time of year, so try to map out your week every Sunday. This includes meetings, dinners, school functions, etc. Once you can actually see what your week looks like, make time for yourself. Whether it be 15 or 30 minutes, any exercise is good exercise. Don’t give up just because you’re short on time.

How many of these tips could you easily put into action? Let us know below. 


Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.