7 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Words: Julie Velosa

Ever since the Starks of Winterfell uttered ‘winter is coming’ it’s been the season’s catchphrase. Well, people, winter is here, and that means that cold and flu season is upon us too. We do our utmost best to evade the dreaded lurgy by avoiding friends who are ill, circumventing children with snotty noses and washing our hands furiously, but there are actually helpful things that we can do to give our bodies the best chance at staving off illness and also helping us to beat the winter blues. These are our suggestions…

Beat the Winter Blues

Add superfoods to your diet

Superfoods are just what they say, full of super nutrients that increase your healthy intake by leaps and bounds. They’re easy to add to smoothies and you’ll get an immediate hit of immune-boosting goodness. It’s a great way to give your system a morning kickstart and the best part is that they taste good too. See our full list of superfoods and their benefits here.

chia seeds

Get your omega-3 fatty acids

Our bodies don’t synthesize omega-3s so we need to ensure we include them in our diet. Omega-3s help prevent stiff joints and prevent dry skin, both things that winter brings our way. To beat the winter blues, ensure that you get your daily dose, include oily fish such as salmon in your diet. Pumpkin seeds, walnuts and leafy green vegetables are also good sources – this hearty Spinach and Walnut Pesto Pasta is a delicious way to get your dose. Also, check out our list of delish Salmon recipes.

Spice up your life

You’ll be amazed by how many flus fighting properties your humble spice selection contains. From the immune-boosting properties of turmeric to the detoxifying ability of cayenne pepper – your spice rack is literally a haven of health. There’s nothing more comforting than a hearty curry or stew when things turn frosty – check out our comprehensive spice guide, complete with yummy recipe suggestions.


Be a ginger nut

Ginger is great for easing digestion but is also amazing for the first signs of winter flu. To tap into it’s immune-boosting qualities, you can add a few slices to a cup of water and sip on that. There really is no flavour quite like ginger, it’s sweet, spicy, cooling and hot all at the same time. There’s no substitution. Ginger is most widely used as the base for most Asian cuisines, so naturally, you can find it in most curries.

While curries, like this Thai Red Coconut one, are a great way to fend off the winter blues, we’re quite partial to these Chicken and Veg Dumplings that contain ginger in the dumplings themselves, as well as in the dipping sauce – a double dose. Ginger is positively packed with the flu-fighting stuff, plus it tastes pretty good too.

Soak up some sun

While we’ve been drilled about the dangers of getting too much sun, the fact is that vitamin D is still incredibly important to our bodies, especially in winter. In South Africa we’re quite lucky as our winters are not as cold and dark as the rest of the world, but because we’re usually spoilt with great weather, we can be in the habit of not wanting to leave the comfort of our couches, when it’s less than perfect outside.

On those sunny winter days we need to get outdoors and get the sun on our faces (and arms if you can brave it).

The sun helps synthesise vitamin D and also boosts serotonin levels, helping us to feel better and happier overall.

Get outdoors

Summer bodies are built in winter… at least that’s what we’ve heard. Our propensity to carbo-load when the weather is cold is well documented, as is the steep decline in physical activity – a deadly combination. It’s increasingly difficult to get up in the morning or to get out and do anything active, so you really have to tap into those willpower reserves.

The great thing about it though, is that it’s only tough for the first few minutes and then once your muscles are warm it feels so great!

You can give yourself a pat on the back for the effort and reward yourself with a yummy spiced chai hot chocolate afterwards. Exercising will release endorphins and getting some sun will help with that vitamin D and serotonin production mentioned above.


Laugh about it

That old adage ‘laughter is the best medicine’ has some real weight to it. Laughter not only makes you feel better but the action actually stimulates immune cells and helps with the production of antibodies, which our body uses to fight illness.

Reminisce with a friend, catch a comedy show, or just watch a great movie – do whatever it takes to tickle your funny bone, you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll decrease the amount of stress hormones racing around your system and that can only be a good thing.

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