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5 Ways To Prepare For Winter Wellness

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Autumn is the perfect time to get your mind, body and spirit healthy and happy so when winter hits, no matter what life throws at you, you’re robust enough to weather any storms. Ensuring your immune system is functioning to the best of its ability, that stress is reduced and mental wellbeing is optimal is the easiest way to ward off sluggishness, the winter blues, colds and flu, so here are five ways to stay on top of your game all winter long. 

1. Meditation

While meditation might seem pretty woo-woo, people have benefited from the practice for more than 5,000 years, and science backs its health claims. Studies show meditation reduces stress by decreasing the release of the stress hormone cortisol and can even shift gene expressions that relate to stress and inflammation. Experienced meditators can even have gene shifts that elevate immune function so they can resist some viral infections.

If you’re just starting out, a meditation practice may seem daunting but thankfully there are loads of apps for that! Most apps cost to buy or use, but many offer free meditations in the mix.

2. Take the right supplements

Serving up a daily medley of five to nine vegetables a day is ideal (hello winter soups!) but even that may not be enough to boost the immunity over the sluggish winter months. Supplements contain potent doses of essential nutrients in convenient tinctures, powders and capsules. There are loads of vitamins and minerals that boost immunity but there are some superstars in the mix. Among them are olive leaf, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamins B6 and B12, along with probiotics, garlic, echinacea and turmeric. To optimise health, fill your diet with anti-inflammatory foods that prevent low level inflammation, which compromises the body and make it more vulnerable to infection. 

Here’s your guide of immunity boosting supplements:

  • Probiotics - regulate the immune cells (systemic and mucosal) and intestinal epithelial cells, which has proven to be therapeutic against viral infection. 
  • Olive leaf - has been used for centuries to fight against inflammation, bacteria and viral infection. It has shown to enhance immune system function by fighting against disease causing microbes that cause respiratory infection including influenza. 
  • Zinc - fights off invading bacteria and viruses and helps the body regenerate protein and DNA, so also helps heal wounds. 
  • Echinacea - activates the immune response thanks to high levels of phenols and alkamides that have antioxidant properties which can reduce the symptoms of cold and flu. 
  • Vitamin C - is a powerful antioxidant that supports the cell functions of the immune system. Reduced levels of vitamin C makes the body more susceptible to infection. 
  • Vitamin D - regulates the body’s immune system and has shown to aid in the prevention of respiratory infections. 
  • Vitamin B - B6 and B12 help keep the immune system strong by supporting the biochemical responses. 
  • Turmeric - stimulates the immune system to fight off infection and other diseases. 
  • Garlic - contains alliin that when crushed or chewed becomes allicin which converts to a sulphur-containing agent shown to boost the disease fighting response by some white blood cells when they come up against cold and flu viruses. 
  • Immunity support - provides a combination of selected ingredients above in a one capsule dose.
3. Exercise daily

While there are no absolutes and a host of variables, health experts and scientists all agree that getting 20-30 minutes of exercise a day is a win for health and mental wellbeing. Getting physical helps optimise blood pressure, reduces risk of stroke and heart attack, balances metabolism, regulates blood sugar, and improves mood and sleep thanks to a lovely dose of endorphins.

The trick is incorporating exercise on the daily and mixing it up when you’re not an F45 junkie. Here are some epic exercise hacks to inspire your imagination… it all adds up!

  • Park further away than you need to from work, the supermarket, the mall and shops and add an invigorating 5-10 minute walk to your day
  • Forget the lift, use the stairs
  • Swap out hiring an electric scooter for a bike or e-bike
  • Instead of meeting friends for a drink meet them for a walk ‘n’ talk
  • Ask your workplace to introduce a weekly one-hour yoga class
  • Buy cute new athleisure wear - sometimes it’s all you need to kick start a new habit
  • Get together with your friends to hire a personal trainer and workout together
  • Sit on a swiss ball or request a standing desk at work to activate the core
  • Join a paddleboard, kayak, dragon boat or tramping club.
  • Hire a personal trainer solo for a month to create a realistic programme you can stick to on your own
  • Get motivated by signing up for a 5K run or triathlon and start a training programme
  • Create a social team for indoor netball or touch rugby
  • Got kids? Take them swimming or kick around a ball and have a laugh (or borrow someone else’s kids!)
  • Make the most of a lunch break with a 10-minute walk around the block
  • Get a walking or jogging buddy and meet before or after work
  • Become a dog walker after work by finding busy pet owners on Neighbourly.
  • Give yourself a star chart and reward yourself for every 20 minutes of exercise you do and celebrate every win!

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4. Stay connected IRL

The connection between social connectedness and mental wellbeing is so interlinked that the New Zealand government commissioned a research paper on the topic. It says that people who have robust connections and form strong bonds with others are said to have better mental, physical and spiritual resilience, which is exactly what is needed when the colder months hit.

In winter, it's easy to become isolated, stay glued to the remote or digital devices and not leave the house. This doubly impacts stay at home mums, students, people with disabilities, the elderly, and people who work from home. 

During winter, it’s important to stay engaged with your community, work and friend groups and seek out or create social opportunities that are simple and sustaining. Here are simple ways to stay connected with your important people this winter:

  • Host a games night - Pictionary and Cards Against Humanity are always a winner
  • Netflix and literally chill with your besties
  • Make time to Facetime people who don’t live nearby
  • Give back to your community by volunteering at a foodbank, planting trees, cleaning up our coastlines or find even a local community group or charity that works for you and encourage others to join you
  • Host a potluck or progressive dinner (where the entrée, main and dessert are served at three different, closely located houses) 
  • Get the crew together for winter glamping or hire a cosy bach
  • Find a restorative wintry yoga, meditation or creative retreat and meet your new tribe
  • Encourage monthly after work Friday drinks with the work peeps
  • Gather the gang for a night of stand-up comedy or start planning your NZ International Comedy Festival gigs
  • See what’s on near you during May NZ Music Month
  • Book a trip to tropical climes like Bali, Fiji or Rarotonga
  • Hit the slopes or book in for the Queenstown Winter Festival

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5. Get the flu jab

Influenza is a serious illness that can take people out for as many as three weeks to a month and in extreme cases, can cause death. In 2019, more than 500 people in New Zealand died from the flu, a secondary infection, respiratory illness, or stroke and heart attack triggered by influenza infection making it one of our country’s biggest infectious killers - more than our annual road toll.

The flu is not merely a sniffle or headache, and it’s not the man flu! It can include body chills, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, sore throat, painful muscle aches, night sweats, swollen glands and sinuses, extreme fatigue and incessant coughing. At Life Pharmacy our pharmacists provide vaccination services that protect against influenza, which is free for pregnant women.

Prevention is better than the cure. You deserve a year of health and happiness, so discover how Life Pharmacy can keep you winter well here.

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