Student Health Guide: Staying Well in Winter

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German winters are notoriously cold, with temperatures often dropping below zero and snowfall almost guaranteed. Some of you might think that this calls for a celebration, as heavy snow is a great excuse to get comfortable, put a film on and avoid studying at all costs. But as you may already know – Germany stops for nothing. Expect to find your university open for business and transport running like normal, and get ready to leave the warmth of your accommodation through those cold winter months.

Winter brings shorter days and colder nights, making it more likely that those seasonal ailments will catch up with you – so we’ve put together a guide to make sure that you know how to stay well this winter:

Staying Warm Is Staying Well

The cold weather can hit us hard with potential to cause heart issues, viruses and pneumonia. The best way to combat illness through the winter months is by keeping warm, so make sure that you layer up or wear chunky clothing to keep the cold at bay. Drinking warm beverages is a great way to raise your body temperature and ensure that you stay healthy this winter – did someone say hot chocolate?

If you think that winter is a time to put your exercise routine on hold, then think again. Staying active raises your body temperature, which can help your immune system in fighting cold-induced illnesses, so don’t cancel your gym membership just yet.

Keeping your home at a good temperature is essential to staying well throughout the winter – try to aim for 18°C, and shut all doors to avoid any draughts. Make use of hot water bottles, electric blankets and thermal clothing to keep your accommodation cosy while you power through your next essay.

It’s Clever to Be Clean

Germs thrive in unclean environments, so you’ll find that you’re much more likely to get sick if you’re living in dirty conditions – pair this with your vulnerable state in cold weather and you’ve got the recipe for a nasty virus. Make sure you’re regularly changing your bed sheets and cleaning the corners of your room to maintain a healthy environment. It’s time to consider a deep clean: no more dirty pans left in the sink, and that mouldy cheese at the back of the fridge can go in the bin – it’s only going to make you sick.

Five-a-Day Keeps the Doctor Away

We’ve already touched on the way in which exercise can keep you healthy through the winter months, and healthy eating is no different. Some foods have properties that can help your body cope with the cold weather. For example, garlic contains allicin, which has antibacterial properties; sweet potato is a good source of Vitamin A, which plays a role in maintaining your mucosal surfaces; and dark leafy greens provide Vitamin C, which can reduce the duration of a cold.

Fight the Fatigue

Winter is known for making people feel tired and sluggish, and this is because the longer nights and colder weather disrupt our sleep cycles and cause us to feel worse when we’re awake. You can combat this by spending as much time as possible in natural daylight, and by ensuring that you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Stress has also been linked to fatigue, so finding an activity that helps you to destress has potential to help you stay well this winter.

It’s Not All Physical

For some, the winter months can bring feelings of depression and anxiety. These emotions have been associated with the way that the body responds to daylight, and are often referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you find yourself feeling depressed throughout the winter months, expose yourself to plenty of sunlight, spend as much time as possible with friends, plan physical activities to keep yourself motivated, and don’t be afraid to approach the doctor.

And It’s Not All Bad…

Despite the problems that the cold weather can bring, it’s good to remember that it’s not all bad. If you can keep yourself well through the winter months, you’ll reap the benefits, as colder weather can burn calories, bring us closer together, reduce inflammation and put an end to disease-carrying bugs.