Your Healthy Winter Guide
Winter on the Westcoast can be unpredictable. Some years, we experience winter as three months of dark skies and steady rain. Others, we’re up to our knees in thick drifts of snow. Whatever the weather, we have the tips, tools and tricks to make it through the winter season happy, healthy and safely.
Our Healthy Winter Guide offers advice on everything from how to get exercise in inclement weather, how to keep your mood bright when it’s dark out, how to stay safe in winter weather, how to avoid common winter illnesses and boost your immunity, and how avoid winter accidents and falls, how to maintain healthy eating habits over the festive season and how to use your ER wisely over the holidays.
Use your ER wisely over the holiday season and avoid unnecessary waiting.
- The emergency room is for emergencies, but where can you go for health care if you have a medical issue and your doctor is unavailable? Read Use the ER wisely over the holidays to learn what your options are and when you should go to the emergency room.
- Are you worried about your child’s fever, but not sure if you should take them to the emergency room? Read the Parents’ Guide to Using the ER Wisely to learn when to treat childhood illness at home and when to go to the emergency room.
- Want to avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital? Read these tips for staying healthy this holiday season and learn the four most common reasons behind ER wait times.
Stay safe and warm and avoid injuries while playing in, driving in or shovelling the snow.
- To learn how to dress properly for winter weather and activities have a look at How to Dress for Winter Activities, Safety Outdoors in the Cold for Toddlers, and Checklist for a Fun, Safe and Active Winter.
- To keep yourself and your family safe from frostbite, hypothermia and exposure, read Cold Exposure: What Increases Your Risk of Injury?, Cold Temperature Exposure, Hypothermia and Cold Temperature Exposure and Home Treatment First Aid for Cold Exposure.
- To play safe in the snow, check out these resources on getting Physical Activity in Colder Weather, training kids in snow sport safety in AdventureSmart Snow Safety and Education Program for Kids, plus Tips to Prevent Winter Sport Injuries, and Safety on the Slopes.
- To avoid back injury and muscle strains while shovelling snow, read What Should You Know Before You Start Shovelling? and Shovel Light: Back Health Tips.
- And to make sure you drive safe in snowy, inclement weather, be sure you’re familiar with these Winter Tire Safety Tips, know how to properly Clean all the snow off your vehicle, and are prepared for emergencies by adopting Winter Safety Indoors and Out.
Find creative ways to get off the couch, embrace the chill and get active. Here are a few of our favourite activity recommendations that we’ve come across in our journeys around the web.
- Exercise is better in the fresh air. For ideas for getting outside with your family and getting active in winter weather read Quick Tips: Staying Active in Cold Weather, 7 Tips to Get Moving During the Holidays, and Bring Back Winter Play, plus Fall and Winter Hiking Safety Tips, and advice on mountain adventures in Discover Your Winter Wonderland by Snowshoe and Get Ready for Ski and Snowboard Season.
- Indoor activities more your speed when it’s rainy or frosty? There are lots of other active options. Check out how to Splash Your Way Through Winter, or discover Creative Ways to Get Your Exercise. Why not try to Harness into Physical Activity with Indoor Rock Climbing or get Tips for Your First Time at the Gym and learn about Getting Started with Your Physical Fitness and how to Workout Smart: Muscle and Strength.
- What’s most important is that even in winter you follow the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, aim to be Getting Active as a Family or learn about Overcoming Barriers to Being Physically Active for the Older Adult.
The shorter, darker days of winter can get us down. If you are lacking energy and enthusiasm for many of your favourite activities, you might be suffering from the ‘winter blahs,’ depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Here are some tips to help you avoid the blues this winter.
- Feeling stressed over the holidays? Learn about The Health Benefits of Holiday Giving, How to Beat Holiday Stress! and Avoid the holiday blues this festive season. A great antidote to feeling blue this holiday season is to Get outdoors! Get active!
- Feeling down this winter? Learn about Conquering the January Blues. Think you may have more than a case of the winter blues? If you are wondering Do I have depression? check out that resource or check your mental health with the HealthLinkBC Check Your Symptoms interactive tool. And if you know a teenager or young adult that may be experiencing a mood disorder or depression, they can learn more at Foundry.
- Could you have Seasonal Affective Disorder? If so, learn more about Using Light Therapy to relieve your symptoms.
- In search of ways to relieve mental stress? Why not try Meditation for Beginners or learn ways to Boost your Mental Immune System. If you need more help, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. They can recommend programs such as BounceBack: Overcome early symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Winter is a time when bugs like the flu and the common cold can rear their ugly heads, making it a challenge to get through our day-to-day lives. Here are some helpful hints to keep you and those you love healthy and well this winter season.
- When winter illness hits you, it can be hard to tell exactly what you have, and therefore how to treat it or whether to head to the pharmacy or your physician. These tools should help you Check Your Symptoms with this HealthLinkBC interactive tool to determine: Is it a cold or the flu? And if so, advise you on What can you do for a cold? or how to treat a childhood fever based on The cold facts on childhood fever.
- Influenza is one illness you want to avoid at all costs, as it can floor you and be potentially fatal in vulnerable people with compromised health. Stay safe this winter. Learn about Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs. Make sure you get the Facts about Influenza (the Flu) by reading Fraser Health’s FAQ on Flu and know how to separate immunization Myths and Facts. Getting your flu shot is easy: just use ImmunizeBC’s Influenza Immunization Clinic Locator to find a location near you!
- What can you do at home to prevent and treat the bugs you catch this winter? It’s important not to overuse antibiotics in treating your symptoms. This article Sore Throat: Should I Take Antibiotics? can help you determine how best to be Using Antibiotics Wisely. And of course, your best defence against bugs is good hygiene. Learn the rules of Handwashing for Parents and Children and make sure you know how to Protect our patients when visiting our hospitals during flu season.
The arrival of winter means outdoor surfaces are slick with rain, ice and even snow, making the risk of a tumble that much higher. And if you or your kids indulge in winter sports like hockey, snowboarding, skiing, you know how easy it is to injure yourself in a fall. A reminder: Helmets do help.
- The incidence of slips and falls can increase over the winter months, but by staying active and taking precautions you can reduce your risk. Check out this article, Tis The Season For Slips And Falls, for tips to prevent falls.
- Anyone can experience a fall related injury, however, people over 65 are at much higher risk of serious injury if they fall. To learn how to reduce the risk for seniors, read Preventing Falls in Older Adults and Seniors' Falls Can Be Prevented.
- Slippery sidewalks and winter sports could mean increased risk of concussion due to falls. If you are worried your child may have suffered a concussion, read: 8 Ways To Spot A Concussion – A Parents’ Guide and also check out James Milne’s story about why helmets should be taken seriously.
- With darker and shorter days upon us, the risk for both drivers and pedestrians has increased. Review these Driver and Pedestrian Safety Tips to avoid accidents on the road this winter.
Tasty holiday treats can add up and wreak havoc on your healthy eating plan. Here are some tips we’ve collected from a variety of sources to help keep your menu healthy and your body feeling great this winter.
- Enjoy the holidays in a healthy way. Learn how to Lighten Up Your Holiday Recipes, read 5 ways to keep healthy eating on track during the holidays, and listen to this podcast with advice from a Fraser Health dietician about how to maintain healthy eating the holiday season.
- Going to a holiday party? Check out Tips for Eating Healthy at Holiday Parties, Heart Healthy Tips for Celebration, Managing Holiday Cheer One Drink at a Time, and Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines.
- Read Kitchen Makeover: Healthy Eating Starts in the Kitchen, Healthy Eating Cheap and Easy and Healthy Eating for Seniors to learn how you can keep healthy eating top of mind year-round. Also, read Meet Your Goals for the Year for strategies to keep you motivated.