Winter Survival Guide

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With winter fast approaching, we grudgingly await the second circulation of Freshers’ Flu and the invasion of misery caused by the dull, dreary weather that England is only too well acquainted with.  Although we cannot tame those infamous wintry winds, we can take steps to ensure we stay on top of our health and keep our moods elevated in the absence of the sun. Behold your weapons.

Ginger: This store-cupboard item not only adds flavour to an otherwise bland dish, but it packs a pungent punch in fighting the flu. Don’t believe this simple root can have a significant impact? It has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine for this exact purpose. It works as a decongestant and has a warming effect across your entire body, aiding circulation and helping general health.  In order to experience this root’s power, grate a tablespoon’s worth of fresh ginger and steep it in boiling water for ten minutes. The longer you leave it, the better the tea performs in battle with the bugs.

Chocolate: It is not in our heads- chocolate really does make us feel better. Research has shown that Cocoa can help elevate serotonin levels (the happy hormone), and can therefore make us feel good. The best chocolate to reach for is dark chocolate as the cocoa content in milk chocolate is not enough to create the happy effect. Have a little bit of dark chocolate to help fight off the Winter Blues, but remember, all good things must be taken in moderation!

Yoga: In non-western medical practices, there is an emphasis on prevention.  Yoga supports many functions of the body, including immune function and blood circulation, making your body stronger so it will not fall prey to the malicious Freshers’ Flu hanging about. This popular practice can significantly reduce stress and even depression, making it ideal for preventing the blues too. There are many different styles of yoga, attracting a variety of personalities to the practice. If you prefer a gentle, meditative yoga then try Hatha. If you want to sweat and push the boundaries of your body, perhaps Asthanga or Bikram are more suitable. If you are not the least bit interested in yoga, regular exercise in general is still effective in prevention of the flu and low moods, although yoga definitely has the upper hand when it comes to emotional wellbeing.

Sleep: This may be an obvious one, but a large number of students relinquish sleep in order to finish coursework or to go out and get ‘hammered’. This is fine once in a while, however denying yourself a decent amount of sleep every night will leave you feeling more worn out and more susceptible to catching a bad cold, or if you already have a cold, unlikely to overcome it anytime soon. What is worse is that late night essays and partying can lead to abuse of caffeine and alcohol- substances that can be quite detrimental to your body when it desires rest. A good night’s sleep can not only guard your body against the flu, but it will also make you feel happier the next day, improving your wellbeing.  Staying out late definitely comprises part of the student experience, but be kind to your body now and again and give yourself a good break.

Multivitamins A-Z: If your body is lacking in any of the essential vitamins, you can guarantee an episode of the Fresher’s Flu. Taking a multivitamin may keep the virus at bay. A paucity of vitamin D may be causing the Winter Blues (which the sunlight provides us with, so investing in multivitamins should be part of your plan.

Fast on our heels is the season to be jolly, not depressed and ill. Following the tips above may just help you have that joyous, sniffle-free winter you’ve always dreamed of. Be prepared!

Serena Gainda

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