The season of winter packs a heavy punch when it comes to men’s health and personal grooming routines, with our immune system, skin, fitness levels and general wellbeing all taking the hit. As every season will bring a new environment, it’s important to establish an array of healthy, personal care habits, specific to winter conditions, to ensure our health doesn’t take a dive.
Ranging from dry skin solutions to immunity-boosting options, here are a few tips to promote healthy living
during this flu season.
Combat Dry Skin
Winter and dry skin come hand in hand during this time of the year, and for those with sensitive skin, it can be a real issue. The colder winds and lower humidity, coupled with excessive indoor heating, can lead to cracked lips, red cheeks, and tighter feeling skin. Those with skin conditions can also experience regular flare-ups during this time. To effectively combat dry skin in winter, it’s best to avoid personal and common triggers. This can include specific fabrics or food.
Also, hot showers can alter the moisture balance in the skin, so aim for luke-warm water when bathing. Try
washing with an exfoliating body wash to eliminate any dead skin and afterward, apply an oil-based moisturiser. Finally, when you’re outdoors in winter, try to protect yourself from the cold winds with clothing such as gloves and scarves.
Establish a Shaving Routine
A cool, piercing breeze on a freshly shaved mug is what nightmares are made of, although there are a few things you can do to avoid this. Exfoliating is crucial when it comes to shaving, especially if you are doing it regularly. Get rid of the plague of dead skin cells clogging up your razor and preventing all your precious shaving creams from working effectively. At least two times a week is ideal. If you aren’t using any shaving balms or oils during winter, you may want to consider giving it a go as shaving on dehydrated skin won’t give you the result you’re truly chasing. Moisturising the face with a pre-shaving oil can go a long way to soothe skin, and using a denser post-shaving balm afterward can protect you from the cruel, chilly winds by creating a healthy barrier. Finally, although a hot shower and a shave may seem like a winning combination in winter, try not to give in to the temptation. Shaving in the cool air after a hot shower can lead to irritated skin, whilst showering after a shave can wash off shaving oils and aftershaves. You just can’t win, so it’s best to just separate the two.
Practice Regular Fitness
A well-established exercise routine is important all year round, although the environment of winter has the power to throw us out of our habits. Many individuals put on winter weight due to the specific conditions of the season and the effect it has on the body. During this time of the year, the days are much shorter and a lot colder, causing us to sleep more. We also aren’t as motivated to get up early and exercise before work, overall limiting our fitness opportunities and resulting in weight gain. Many people also often turn to comfort meals during winter, such as warmer, heavier foods. Although, as enticing as a cozy bed and hot chocolate can be, we should strive to maintain our gym schedules. But with all these temptations surrounding us and encouraging us to give in, how are we supposed to stay on track? First of all, it’s important to stay mindful of your physique. We tend to rug up in winter to endure the cold weather, however, this can limit our awareness to the subtle hints of winter weight.
Try exercising at a time where you know you’re going to be much more motivated to do so. Switch up an early morning workout for a late afternoon or night gym session. Also, avoid take out and be mindful of what you’re eating. Try cooking nutrient dense, home-style recipes.
Take Care of Your Hair
Due to the environment of winter, along with that pesky indoor heating, the scalp can become easily dehydrated, leading to brittle hair and dandruff. It’s best to protect your scalp from the conditions that cause dryness, whether it’s with a beanie or scarf. Keeping the head warm can prevent damage, although be sure the headpiece isn’t pulling on hair and causing even more breakage.
It may also be wise to establish a washing routine, specifically for winter, to promote a healthy scalp. Rather
than bathing with hot water, aim for a lukewarm temperature. This will prevent the scalp from drying out.
Avoid excessively washing your hair, as this can reduce the about of natural oils in the hair and lead to an itchy scalp. You should aim for around one to two washes per week, assuming you have no specific requirements. If you have to use a blow dryer, aim for a cooler setting. Avoid using a brush. A wide tooth comb can be an effective alternative. Finally, hair oil products, such as almond, olive or coconut oil, can be good for nourishing and strengthening hair.
Boost Your Immunity
The season of the dreaded man-flu is among us, mercilessly running rampant throughout compromised
immune systems and leaving innocent men bedridden, antsy and rather impatient. It’s nothing short of a tragedy. The best thing to do when wanting to avoid the flu is to strengthen your immune system. Before the months of winter, it would be wise to start regularly consuming immune boosting foods or supplements. The nutrients inside these foods that support and nourish the immune system include vitamin C, zinc, and iron. Having these extra nutrients in your body doesn’t fight off infection, but rather ensures your bodily stores are at a peak level to ensure the immune system is operating well. So, what foods should you be eating leading up to winter? Plenty of fruits and vegetables (especially those citrus fruits), nuts, red meats, seeds, and yogurt. If you are looking for that extra kick of immunity, many people also turn to natural health supplements, available for purchase in health food stores and most pharmacies. Olive Leaf, mushroom, garlic, Echinacea, and ginseng are merely a few immune boosting remedies that have shown promise in the prevention of cold and flu. Keep in mind, these products won’t work immediately and it will take a few weeks/months for the body to start reaping the rewards.
Other practices to avoid catching and spreading these infections throughout winter should also be implemented. Regularly wash your hands, especially if you are riding public transport. Flu shots are also available at various pharmacies, with vacations being offered as early as mid-April.
Maintain Your Sleeping Patterns
Winter has the power to mess with your sleeping pattern, so it’s important to strive towards getting eight hours of sleep per night. Less than eight hours can leave you feeling fatigued, drowsy and irritable. However, more is not the solution. The risk of chronic disease can increase if you are getting too much sleep on a regular basis (more than nine hours). Due to winter’s effect of increasing our sleep, it’s important to keep an eye on our snoozing times. Aim for that sweet spot of seven-eight hours per night. Try to establish a firm sleeping routine to suit your needs. Make yourself a bedtime and stick to it the best you can.
Meditation is a practice ever-growing in popularity, particularly due to the health benefits it can bring forward. If done effectively, meditation can be a very useful tool to help you relax and unwind. This effect cannot be underestimated as it can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. The best part is, you don’t have to cross your legs and chant over and over again - unless that’s something that you’re into. Meditation can be undergone in a comfortable, upright position that suits you. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing and direct your attention towards your current surroundings. If your mind wanders, that’s no problem. All you have to do is catch the thought, push it away and return to your previous state. Try not to get too frustrated with yourself if you mind continues to float away. As they say, practice makes perfect. You can meditate almost anywhere and it’s doesn’t take long to do. When starting off, aim for around five minutes of mindful meditation per day.
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