The winter season can be tough. Colder temperatures and darker days can easily affect your health and your mood, especially if you don’t take extra precautions.

Regardless of how much the temperature drops in your area, how much snow you see, or how early the sun goes down, we can all be affected by the winter bluesWinter is a time of year when we are just more susceptible to illnesses like influenza and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

There are steps you can take to help protect yourself from illness and feelings the winter blues, and we’ve outlined five tips to stay happy and healthy this winter:

Keep Your Hands in Check.

We touch our faces a lot without realizing it, and even though these touches are often brief they breed opportunities for germs to come in contact with our ears, nose and throat. Germs that originate from the flu are spread particularly easily this way, which is why it is important only to touch your face when necessary and to have clean hands when doing so. Washing your hands often is always a good idea when it comes to preventing illness.

Decrease Your Sugar Intake.

A healthy diet can be the first step toward feeling well both mentally and physically. Diets high in sugars, fats and processed foods are bad news all year round, but can be particularly harmful to your health during the winter when you need a stronger immune system.

Don’t Skimp on Sleep.

The more tired and worn down you are, the more likely you are to catch a cold. It’s tempting to stay up late and enjoy time to yourself, but it’s not worth it compared to losing a week to the flu. If you are having trouble winding down at the end of the night, we encourage you to read our blog post on How to (Finally) Get Enough Sleep.

Get Vaccinated.

It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine at PGOMG. The flu season typically runs from the fall to early spring, and with the winter season falling in the middle of the two, it’s still important to receive a flu shot – especially if you are considered high-risk for contracting the flu or are pregnant.

Stay Active.

It can be difficult to stay active in the winter months with cold weather, snow and early sunsets. It’s important to get creative with your workout routine and stay active during the winter as much as possible. Regular exercise helps a person’s immune system and can improve your mood.