We all have a favourite season, yet winter might be the most contentious. Moods change, social interactions feel much harder, and food and lifestyle choices reflect our desires to conserve energy and warmth. Taking care of ourselves becomes essential, and paying attention to a few basic things will help maintain good physical and mental health and wellbeing until the warmer weather returns. 


Protect your health

There is almost always one bug or another going around, but winter creates all the right conditions for some of the worst illnesses to take hold. Get ahead of the game and plan a trip to your GP to discuss any vaccinations you might need to keep you safe. Many people make it a ritual to get their annual flu shots, or COVID booster shots in April or May. With increases in winter of respiratory illnesses, foreign infections, and inflammatory diseases, it’s worth chatting to your GP in late Autumn to ensure you’re prepared and protected for the winter months. 


Eat well to live well

Of course we all want hearty stews, steaming buttery mash, and giant bowls of cheesy pasta in winter! It’s cold and our bodies want to be warmed from the inside. It’s ok to lean into this instinct, but try to break up the heavier meals with lighter vegetable rich alternatives and watch your portion sizes. Getting into the habit of making larger batches of meals is a great practice for winter and encourages your to have variety rather than making one thing and eating nothing but that for three days. Batch cooking is more cost effective and means you can stack the freezer for rainy days - literally. There is a great selection of snap frozen, tinned, and dried fruits available now to add to breakfast oats, chia pudding or pancakes; and warm salads made from steamed greens, nuts and seeds, and your choice of protein are a great way of still getting the nutrition you need. Keep your fluids up with hot drinks and drink your red wine and whisky by the glass not the bottle!   


Stay active

The cold days certainly make it difficult to stay active but even something as simple as standing on the front porch and taking a few deep breaths of fresh air can make a difference. Most parts of Australia are blessed with at least some sunny winter days, so when they appear make sure you get out into them! Check the weather in the morning and plan an outing for the warmest part of the day. You could take a thermos of soup to the park for lunch or get out early for coffee and a stroll. If you’re home a lot, split up tasks so you get out and about regularly throughout the week - this keeps you engaged in the world around you and means you’re not out in the cold for long each time. Organise to meet a friend for a walk somewhere pretty nearby, or head to a sporting event, some live music, a museum, or gallery or the cinema to fill your cup up. Many local councils organise winter markets, light projections or social events so keep your eye on locally newsboards for updates. 


Be social

Snuggling under a cosy blanket on the couch in front of the TV or a good book is absolutely what we all want to do when it’s cold and bleak outside. However, too many days without social interaction can impact our mental health over time so try to build activities with others into the calendar. You could meet someone for a drink or dinner by the fire at the local pub, or take part in an organised social event like a book club or a trivia night. Look for a local veterans meet up in your area to meet others with shared lifestyles and experiences. For those in south Gippsland, the Veterans Wellbeing Hub in Morwell has a Coffee and Chat session every Wednesday from 10 to 11am that all veterans are welcome to attend. This weekly social gathering provides support and kinship, as well as food supplies with essentials from Foodbank available for veterans to take home. 


If you are a veteran, know a veteran or are the family member of a veteran who might need some advice or support, you can contact us at Carry On for more information.