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Navigating Winter: Your Guide to Health and Happiness

Navigating Winter: Your Guide to Health and Happiness

Winter can be a picturesque season, adorned with its pristine snowy landscapes and evenings filled with the comforting warmth of a crackling fire. Nevertheless, it also brings along a host of common illnesses that can quickly ruin your winter wonderland. At Whitworth, we believe that staying healthy throughout the winter months is essential for enjoying this glorious season to its fullest.

In this blog, we explore some common winter conditions to watch out for, their symptoms and how to treat them. Share advice on how to boost your immune system with vitamins and combat winter blues through self-care.


Common Winter Illnesses:

The Common Cold:  A cold is a viral infection located in the upper respiratory tract. They are highly contagious and are primarily spread through respiratory droplets expelled when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. Additionally, the virus can be contracted by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the face, particularly the nose, mouth, or eyes.  It is a common illness and is usually mild although it can be uncomfortable and generally tends to last between 7 to 10 days.

Some common symptoms include sore or scratchy throat, runny or blocked nose, coughing, sneezing, fatigue, headaches, and low-grade fever.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold, and antibiotics are ineffective because it's a viral infection. Treatment is for relieving symptoms and includes:

·         Rest and hydration

·         Over-the-counter cold medications (decongestants, pain relievers, cough suppressants)

·         Gargling with warm salt water for a sore throat

·         Using saline nasal sprays or drops to alleviate nasal congestion

·         Drinking warm liquids like tea or broth


Influenza: More commonly referred to as “the flu” it is an extremely contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory system. The flu is spread when you touch contaminated surfaces or come into contact with respiratory droplets produced by an infected individual when they cough, sneeze, or talk. It can have a significant impact on your overall well-being and lead to severe complications, particularly in vulnerable groups like the elderly, infants, expectant mothers, and those with preexisting health conditions. These complications may include bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia ear infections, worsening of chronic medical conditions and even death. The flu typically lasts between one and two weeks.

Some common symptoms include a sore throat, muscle and body aches, high fever, Dry cough, Chills and sweats, severe headaches, fatigue and weakness, Runny or stuffed nose and gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.

Your GP or pharmacist may prescribe antiviral drugs like Tamiflu or Relenza to reduce flu symptoms. Symptomatic relief includes:

·         Rest and hydration

·         Over-the-counter medications (decongestants, pain relievers, cough suppressants)

·         Gargling with warm salt water for a sore throat

·         Using saline nasal sprays or drops to alleviate nasal congestion

·         Drinking warm liquids like tea or broth


Seasonal Allergies: More commonly associated with spring and summer when plants release pollen, they also occur during the winter months. However, they are triggered by different allergens such as mould, dust mites and pet dander. They often cause symptoms that include: respiratory issues, skin rashes or hives, runny or stuffy nose, coughing and sneezing and itch or watery eyes.

To manage or prevent winter allergies you should:

·         Clean your home regularly

·         Use a dehumidifier and air purifier

·         Use Over-the-counter medications (antihistamines, decongestants, )

·         Ventilate your home

If you suffer from severe symptoms persistently you should consider taking an allergy test to find out exactly what's causing your allergies. You should also seek advice from your GP or a pharmacist to see if they can prescribe medications such as corticosteroids and Leukotriene inhibitors.


Tips for Avoiding Common Winter Illnesses:

1. Hand Hygiene: Frequent handwashing is a way to protect yourself from getting sick. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, and when you can't, use hand sanitiser.


2. Flu Vaccination: Getting your flu vaccination is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your family and your community from the flu virus.


3. Allergen Control: Keep indoor allergens under control by maintaining a clean and dust-free home. Consider using air purifiers and regularly washing bedding and curtains.


4. Healthy Diet: Consume a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to help boost your immune system.


5. Stay Active: Regular exercise will help to keep your body and immune system strong.


Immunity Boosting Vitamins:

During the winter months, it can be beneficial to prioritise your vitamin intake for optimal health. Here are some helpful tips and specific vitamins to consider:

1. Vitamin D: With limited exposure to sunlight in winter, many people experience a deficiency in vitamin D. Taking vitamin D supplements will help support both bone health and immune function.


2. Vitamin C: Include lots of vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, strawberries, and bell peppers in your diet. If you struggle to get enough, vitamin C supplements can be beneficial, especially when it's cold and flu season.


3. Vitamin A: A crucial vitamin for maintaining healthy skin and mucous membranes, which act as barriers against infections.


4. Vitamin E: As an antioxidant, vitamin E helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.


It's important to note that while supplements are beneficial, they should not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet with a variety of nutrient-rich foods.

Consult with a GP or pharmacist before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medication.


Combatting Winter Blues and self-care:

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a common type of depression that occurs during the winter months. It is often characterised by symptoms that include: low mood, fatigue, disrupted sleep and appetite.

Effective ways to combat SAD include:

·         Plenty of natural sunlight

·         Light therapy

·         Psychotherapy,

·         Medication


By engaging in self-care activities, you can help alleviate stress, enhance emotional well-being, and improve your mood. Here are some of our self-care practices you can incorporate into your routine:

1. Reading: Reading provides a delightful escape and a tranquil way to unwind. Whether you like novels, non-fiction, or magazines, reading can provide a break from daily stress. So, pick up a book, kick back and unwind.


2. Mindfulness and Meditation: Practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques will help you stay grounded in the present moment, reduce anxiety, and foster a sense of calm. We recommend you start with short daily sessions, focusing on your breathing, and gradually increasing the duration as you become more comfortable.


3. Baths: A warm, relaxing bubble bath can be a great way to destress your body, and mind, relieve muscle tension and promote relaxation. Throw in some Epsom salts or essential oils like lavender to amplify the calming effect.


4. Nature Walks: Going for leisurely walks in parks, forests, or at the beach is a great way to connect with the natural world which has a rejuvenating effect on your mental well-being. The sights, sounds, and fresh air bring a sense of serenity and reduce stress.


5. Creativity: Take up or rediscover creative hobbies and artistic pursuits such as painting, drawing, and writing allow for self-expression and can provide a therapeutic outlet for emotions.


6. Exercise: Physical activity, such as yoga, weightlifting, or even daily walks, facilitates the release of endorphins, which In turn improves your mood. Scheduling regular exercise into your routine reduces stress and boosts your overall sense of well-being.


Self-care is a personal journey. So, explore and find the self-care practices that resonate with you and fit into your lifestyle. For more on self-care read our Art of Self-Care blog here.



Take proactive steps to safeguard your health and well-being by following these tips. They can help you you can ward off common winter illnesses, stay healthy, nourish your body, and combat the winter blues with self-care. Remember, your health is your greatest asset, so prioritise it this winter season to become a happier and healthier you.