Australia is known around the world for its beautiful beaches, constant sunshine and warm climate. As a result, it can be easy to forget that, depending on where you live, winter in Australia can get seriously chilly! Cold weather can quickly impact your health and leave you stuck in bed, binging shows on Netflix as the mountain of tissues steadily grows around you. This is especially true in 2022, as Australia battles an intense influenza season while also trying to curb the spread of COVID-19. To help you keep your health in check during the cold months, here are five tips for staying healthy this winter.
Get your flu shot
As mentioned above, Australia’s flu season is particularly nasty this year. Fortunately, flu shots are available for everyone, including international students.
There are a number of reasons why you should get a flu shot this winter:
- It can stop you from catching the flu in the first place, protecting your health and giving you peace of mind.
- If you do catch the flu, the flu vaccine will likely reduce the severity of your illness (e.g. decrease your chances of being hospitalised).
- They help protect vulnerable people in the community who are at a high risk of complications or death if they catch the flu, such as young children or the elderly.
You can get a flu shot from most pharmacies or general practitioners (GPs). However, it’s important to note you may need to pay a fee to get your flu shot; if you’re unsure, you can always call ahead to ask. Search for your closest flu vaccine provider here.
Prepare healthy meals (while staying within your budget)
Trying to eat healthy when money’s tight can be a bit of a challenge. After all, it’s easier to hop onto Uber Eats than it is to step into the kitchen and channel your inner Gordon Ramsay. However, you don’t have to break your budget or be a world-class chef to make simple meals that can help boost your immune system.
Some of the easiest and tastiest meal ideas include:
- Hearty stovetop shakshuka (a vegetarian-friendly dish of baked eggs dish in a rich tomato sauce)
- Chicken thighs with spiced jerk seasoning served with a pineapple and mint salsa
- Healthy pasta carbonara
- French-style vegetable and lentil soup (vegetarian and vegan-friendly)
For added good measure, here’s a list of 30 recipes you can make using canned goods, which are always affordable and nutritious.
Ensure you have the right health cover
No one ever plans to use their health cover, but if you have a medical emergency or need medical attention, it’s a huge relief to know you’re covered as medical expenses can become expensive when you don’t have cover. It’s also important to remember that anyone living in Australia on a student visa is required to have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the entirety of their stay, or Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC) if you’re on a Temporary Graduate visa. So, not only is the correct health cover important for your peace of mind but it’s also vital for meeting your visa requirements.
Getting a good night’s rest is an often-underrated aspect of staying healthy. Sleep is important to our overall health and wellbeing for several reasons:
- It helps our bodies to recover and repair
- Sleep supports brain development
- It improves our memory and our mood
- It helps our cardiac function and metabolism
Without enough sleep, our health can start to nosedive. We may have problems with concentration, memory, mood regulation and much more.
If you are having issues with your sleep, try a few of the following things:
- Avoid using electronic screens in your bedroom
- Try not to have any caffeine after 2 pm
- Exercise during the day
- Establish a realistic bedtime and stick to it – even on weekends
Look after your mental health
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. That’s why it’s essential to focus on it during winter in Australia.
Take active steps to stay mentally healthy, some of which might include but are not limited to:
- Exercise – Even if it’s only a short walk, exercising can help release endorphins in the body and boost your mood.
- Eat healthy foods – Good nutrition has been linked to better mental health outcomes, while a poor diet has been associated with a greater risk of mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
- Talk to a close friend or family member – Lean on the people in your support network by telling them about any struggles you might be experiencing. Getting your challenges off your chest can be extremely helpful.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, there are many services in Australia you can consult as a starting point to get some help. Some excellent examples are:
- Lifeline – call 13 11 14 or chat online
- Beyond Blue – call 1300 22 4636 or chat online
- Kids Helpline (available for young people up to the age of 25) – call 1800 55 1800
Looking for health cover to meet your visa requirements for Australia? Get a quote from Bupa!
Cover with Bupa includes:
- Less out-of-pocket expenses with cover on 100% of Medicare Benefit Schedule fees
- Bupa’s exclusive 24/7 Overseas Health Advice Line wherever you are in the world including assistance reviewing medical bills with translation services
- Unlimited emergency ambulance cover
- Use of the myBupa app, allowing you to easily access your health cover information online
*Based on APRA market share data, 2017-2020