top of page
  • Writer's pictureKate Warren

Self-Care Winter Special

Welcome to the first Special edition of the Stay U Blog. I'm Kate, the Stay U Counsellor and Career Coach and, in this blog, I will be talking about winter and how it affects us - both mentally and physically - and how you can prepare for it.

Winter is a difficult season for many of us.

Don't get me wrong, I love to snuggle up with a hot chocolate and watch TV, but we also need to go outside and get to work, uni or the supermarket, and when it's cold and rainy it's the last thing we want to do.

Colder weather can affect our immune system and mental health. Contrary to popular belief, you can't actually get a cold from being cold (as it is a virus), but your immune system can be fighting harder than usual when it's cold.

This often means you are more susceptible to catching the cold or flu virus, among other things.

TIP 1: Make sure you are warm enough

This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but too many people consider "fashion before function" and think that just because their friends are only wearing a t-shirt and shorts, it's probably not as cold as you think. If you are cold, then there is nothing wrong with you, it just means you feel it more than others. Wearing a jacket when you go outside, having enough blankets on your bed, and wearing closed shoes are just a couple of basic steps you can take. Check your wardrobe and make sure you have enough warm clothes - it could be an excuse to go shopping with a few friends! Think - long sleeved tees, shirts, jeans, boots, and jackets. Being warm enough when you sleep is important - otherwise you will not get a good quality sleep and may have trouble falling asleep. Being cold can also affect your concentration and memory, as your brain and body have more important things to focus on.

TIP 2: Don't forget your water

When the days get colder, you don't necessarily feel like drinking a lot of water. We often increase our intake of hot drinks, such as tea and coffee, which is great for keeping us warm, but some hot drinks also contain caffeine. Ever noticed that you need to go to the bathroom more often when you drink lots of coffee? That's because caffeine is a diuretic*. This doesn't necessarily mean that you are going to get dehydrated, but it can mean that you are not absorbing as much water as you do when you drink a non-caffeinated drink. Introduce some non-caffeinated drinks into your winter diet, if you don't already. Here are a few ideas:


⚗️ *SCIENCE LESSON: A diuretic is any substance that promotes diuresis, the increased production of urine.


TIP 3: Get more sunlight

In winter, the days become shorter and colder, and we tend to go outside less. You may notice that you feel depressed, lonely, and even quite hopeless. There is a reason for this, especially if you are going outside a lot less. Getting less sunlight can cause a reduction in serotonin and an increase in melatonin. Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer that controls wellbeing and happiness - it's often called the "happy hormone". Melatonin is the chemical that your brain makes when it gets dark outside. It's known as the "sleep hormone" because it tells you when to go to sleep and wake up. You can see why having not enough of one and too much of the can make you feel down. In fact, the experience is called Seasonal Affective Disorder - or SAD. Appropriate name, isn't it?

You can learn about SAD on the Beyond Blue website - Feeling SAD (seasonal affective disorder) (

TIP 4: Make an effort to be social

Some people's idea of being social is doing outdoors or "warm weather" activities, like going to the beach, playing a sport, sitting outside at a cafe or bar, or going on road trips. You can still do these activities in winter, of course, but you are less likely to (especially the beach). We tend to make excuses like, "it's raining", or "it's too cold".

Simply being around people can feel good, like being in a gallery, movie theatre or concert.

Volunteering can also have a positive impact on your mental health. Not only will you be around other people, but you're also making a difference.

We also live in an age where online social activities are bigger than ever. You can get together with your friends from the comfort of your own bedroom with these great ideas:

  • Virtual dance party - create a room in Zoom or another platform and pump up your favourite tunes.

  • All Bad Cards - is an online/virtual version of Cards Against Humanity.

  • Kahoot! - if you don't know what this is, you've been living under a rock (it's a trivia style virtual game)

TIP 5: Eat healthy

I know when I think of eating healthy, I always think of salads. The great thing about winter, though, is baked veggies and soups! Not only are they good for you, but they also warm you up and are relatively cheap to make, if you know what to look for. You also don't have to be a master chef to make soup. Here are some yummy soup recipes for you, courtesy of Woolworths - start at the beginning and work your way though (listed from easiest to harder):

A little extra to think about...

Now is also the time to speak to your doctor about a Flu vaccination.

If you have had it before, there is one thing to keep in mind - did you have a reaction to it last time? If so, speak to your GP about it. It may have been a common reaction, or the flu shot may not be for you.

If you've never had it, there are two things to consider - do you usually get the flu during winter, and what level of contact to you have with other people? If you usually get a terrible case of the flu, it would probably be an idea to get the flu shot - remember, it doesn't stop you from getting it, it just lessens the severity. If you don't get sick, then maybe you don't need to get it, which brings us to the second consideration - if you come in contact with a lot of people, including elderly people or those with a higher risk of infection, it is usually recommended that you have the flu shot. More to protect others than yourself.

Of course, like any vaccination, getting the flu shot is a personal choice, and you should always speak to your doctor or medical specialist first. They are easy to get - at the doctor and at many pharmacies - and are low cost (even free in some cases).

I hope you have enjoyed and gained some useful information from my special winter edition blog. Next time we are back on track with our regular format, with the next topic being Setting Boundaries. Take care and remember - a problem shared is a problem halved.

10 views0 comments


bottom of page