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Quick tips from resilience expert Liggy Webb to help you beat those winter bugs and blues.

Two hundred years ago 75% of the population worked outdoors, now only 10% of the population work in natural outdoor light. 12 Million people across Northern Europe are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). We are also more prone to comfort eat during the winter, consuming more sugary foods and refined carbohydrates. So making a conscious effort to really look after yourself in the winter is essential so here are a few suggestions from Liggy Webb to help to boost your winter health:

Exercise and energise

To keep your immune system healthy exercise is one of the best things that you can do. Wrap up warm and go for a lovely big walk. This is even better than going to the gym because you will get lots of fresh air and natural daylight. The cooler weather is great to invigorate and stimulate the senses. Buy a pedometer to motivate yourself and aim to walk 10,000 steps a day.

Drink lots of water

Water may not be the drink of choice in the winter, but it is one of the best things that you can do to keep healthy as it is vital for all bodily functions. An important part of flushing out the bacteria is the actual flushing, so keep a bottle with you at all times and keep sipping it throughout the day. There are some delicious herbal teas available and these will also add to your recommended quota of two litres a day.

Boost your vitamin C

Vitamin C is at the top of the list among natural immune boosters for your body. The research on the immune boosting properties of the vitamin has been extensive. So taking a supplement during the winter is a good idea or eating lots of delicious seasonal satsumas is another good way. Hot water and lemon is also a great way to start the day and a much better alternative to coffee.

Eat yourself healthy

You can really protect your immune system by eating healthy food. Certain foods like garlic, ginger, tomatoes and onions are all great for warding off colds. Plenty of fruit and fresh vegetables will provide you with antioxidants and a whole host of vitamins and minerals. So let healthy food be your medicine.

Take Echinacea

Taking the herbal remedy Echinacea, according to research, can more than halve the risk of catching a common cold. It is made from nine species of herbaceous plants in the family Asteraceae which are commonly called purple coneflower. It is available in liquid, tablets and delicious herbal teas. Visit your local health shop to ask for more advice.

Reduce sugar

Eating or drinking 100 grams (eight tsp) of refined sugar, the equivalent of one 12-ounce can of sugary, fizzy soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40%. The immune-suppressing effect of refined sugar starts less than 30 minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours. Although it is very tempting to reach out for those comfort foods and get a quick sugar fix, stop before you do and think what it is doing to your immune system, which really needs all the help it can get.

Drink alcohol in moderation

Despite the fact that it is the season to be jolly it doesn’t mean it has to be artificially induced. Excessive alcohol intake can harm the body’s immune system in two ways. First, it produces an overall nutritional deficiency, depriving the body of valuable immune boosting nutrients. Secondly, alcohol, like sugar, consumed in excess can reduce the ability of white cells to kill germs and depletes the body of vitamin B, which can leave you depressed. Alcohol, despite the association with celebrations, is best enjoyed in moderation with a maximum of three units a day for men and two units a day for women.

Wash your hands

With more bugs abound it’s important to wash your hands often and well, especially before eating as this is one of the easiest ways to help prevent the spread of infections. Also, if you have a cold and you use a paper tissue throw them away after each use rather than keep using it, as the germs will continue to transfer to your hands.

Sleep well

A good night’s rest is one of the best ways to boost your immune system. The quality of your sleep is very important too so that you feel energised at the start of each day. Cutting out caffeine and alcohol will help. Try a warm bath with lavender oil and a cup of camomile tea – it will work wonders.


Liggy WebbLiggy Webb is a best-selling author and international consultant specialising in behavioural skills. She works with the United Nations and travels to various worldwide locations. Liggy is also the founding director of The Learning Architect, an international consortium of behavioural skills specialists. She is recognised as a thought leader on resilience and is regularly asked to be a keynote speaker across private and public sector.
Liggy’s latest book Resilience – How to cope when everything around you keeps changing is a practical and accessible guide for coping with change and offers advice on how to cultivate the right attitude and inner strength. Liggy is noted for her ability to distil complexity and keep approaches straightforward and simple. As an advocate of positive psychology her underpinning message across all her work is to equip people to be positive, agile and resilient.