Winter Wellbeing with SuperWellness
HR in Hospitality event Blog: Esther O’Halloran, Chair HR in Hospitality, 03 February 2022
Zoom Event presented by Julie Weston, Head of Nutrition and Wellbeing at Superwellness who shared her expertise and advice on keeping healthy this season.
Winter can be a more challenging time for our health, particularly as this pandemic continues to impact us all. Colder and darker days setting in can affect our immune system, our mood and motivation to follow healthy habits and exercise.
Did you know… garlic is anti-viral so eating a bulb a day is good for you (and good for keeping the doctor away) but, so are apples which are really beneficial for our digestive health, wat is in your office fruit bowl?
Do any of your team suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)? How do we raise feelings of being more positive in winter when there is less sunlight? Our bodies see a drop in serotonin in the winter months when the sun is lower, so we need to go outside more and fight the feeling of not wanting to go out. Maybe you notice fatigue or increased craving for junk food in your team, if you do, encourage them to get up and go outside. Serotonin = Melatonin, our feel good chemical, did you know the majority of this is found in our digestive track so if we are not getting enough we feel like hibernating. It is harder to be motivated to exercise and we might make poor food choices, so try and motivate your team and encourage them to step outside or sit by a window more frequently.
Do you plan to keep up the notices to regularly wash your hands? We know that washing our hands has dramatically reduced the risk of spread of bugs and viruses and it is something our mothers always used to remind nus about. Keep the good hand washing practice going in the workplace even as the impact of Covid diminishes and I don’t mean just in the kitchen and food service areas but in your back office and front of house areas too. Remember bugs love to sit on surfaces and cannot wait to be touched!
Do you notice people saying they feel tired or they ache more in the winter? Low vitamin D is likely to be the cause and we may really want the sun on our skin but at this time of the year there is not enough sun. Signs of low vitamin D could also be depression, tiredness, muscle pain, so could suggesting vitamin D supplements be a good idea for them? The NHS recommends nutrients to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy that help regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies and so advise considering taking a daily su0olement during the autumn and winter.
Here are 12 steps to help you and your team to Winter Wellness
- A nutrition packed diet – how healthy is the staff food in your place of work if you provide meals? Is there a good mix of protein, good fats (olive oil, avocado), a balance of fruit and vegetables and a great mix of colour available, plus a small amount of carbs? If not you may need to speak with your chefs.
- Keep hydrating – it is easy to forget drinking cold water when it is cold outside! Do you encourage people to top up their water intake and sip all day? Did you know meso both or herbal teas are also good ways to hydrate during the work day? Maybe you could also do something great for your carbon footprint where you work and reduce plastic use at the same time by providing reusable branded water glasses or bottles for people to have on their desks?
- Try a gentle detox – this is just a simple way to detox the liver, think of your liver as a huge cleaning filter that needs regular housekeeping! Encourage people to reduce intake of sugar, caffeine, alcohol by maybe detoxifying for 3, 7 or 21 days, to take the pressure off your liver. You could maybe try to encourage a team challenge for 3 days in one week and make it fun to detoxify, drinks that also help are green tea, lemon water or even a turmeric latte. So a little bit of TLC (or housekeeping) for our organs is good.
- Key nutrients vitamin D – it is good to supplement through the winter months and also recommended by the NHS. There are a number of online providers where you could access tests, such as; com, Medichecks and Thriva where you can check your levels but beware not to take too many supplements.
- Zinc – this is super helpful to your immune system and metabolism and with a varied diet you usually get enough. Great food sources where it is readily available include; chicken, red meat, shellfish, pumpkin seeds, nuts, beans, eggs, whole grains etc, so check what is on your menu.
- Vitamin C – is vital for our bodies healing process and acts as an antioxidant to boost immunity. So think of all the lovely vegetables and fruit you could fill your plate with, delicious colourful foods such as; tomatoes, sweet potato, broccoli, kale, peppers or citrus fruits such as oranges, kiwi, even try to get in some raw veg occasionally too.
- Omega 3 fats – help to activate immune cells and help modulate your immune system and reduce inflammation. Great sources to help reduce those swollen joints are oily fish such as; anchovies or flaxseeds, chai, soya and walnuts also contain omega 3 and are a great energy source. In essence it’s getting a balance to help keep your immune system working the way it should.
- Grandmothers remedies? – how often did you hear grandma swearing by her old fashioned and tried and tested remedies for keeping colds away were good for you? Well there is some truth that her remedies do work, taking echinacea and elderberry are rich in compounds and stimulate immune system and decrease the effects of colds. A lot of these you can now get in teas or supplements, try things such as thyme and oregano tea or maybe a black elderberry tincture it is delicious. Honey & Hot lemon - although honey varies in potency, select darker colours as these are higher in antioxidants, soothing for coughs but beware of not having too much honey due to high fructose levels. Garlic – is most effective when raw, or make your own humous or add it to a pesto sauce or try putting it into a salad dressing, great roasted too!
- Support your digestive system – give your gut some healthy support, think of it as containing beneficial bacteria as over 70% of your immune system is in the lining of your gut. We see prebiotics on labels where you could add these to your food. Onions, garlic, leeks or Jerusalem artichokes are also great sources for keeping your gut healthy.
- Exercise even if it’s cold outside – we all know it is essential for immunity, mood, energy sleep, cognition and protects you from lifestyle disease (diabetes). But, yes it’s cold outside so we do not want to go out, however, try putting in movement when you can, step up away from your desk, have walking meetings, even if it is up and down a flight of stairs. Consider setting yourself and your team a micro daily challenge to move or get out at least once a day.
- Get enough sleep – to boost your immune response and reduce your chance of contracting colds and flu. How many of us will admit to that guilty pleasure of playing with our phone or iPad late at night, checking in to see what has happened on social media or emails before we go to sleep? Worse thing we can do for our sleep is to look at screens late into the night due to the blue light restraining the production of melatonin that impacts our circadian rhythm. Try changing the setting to night mode or an orange light on screen if you cannot detox your device.
- Give your mind some TLC – help yourself to master the stress hormone cortisol and unload your stress bucket regularly. Light therapy (light box) can improve moods considerably (try Lumie for light boxes) or simple breathing and mindful exercise can boost mental wellbeing.
Try the 4-7-8 Breathing exercise - It is from the ancient yoga practice based on mindful breathing exercises and is great for mental wellbeing and reducing stress. Simply; Close your lips and inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth making a whoosh sound for a count of eight. This completes one cycle, try it for four cycles in the beginning and you may feel lightheaded at first but this will pass, eventually you can build up to eight cycles. Could be a great start to a team meeting, so give it a go.
View our full webinar below