Australia’s winter weather ranges from 30°C and sunny in the north, to a chilly 14°C with endless rain throughout the south. Regardless of where in the country you might be, it’s important to keep yourself healthy, safe and happy during the winter season – especially if you want to make the most of the mid-year break. Here are some of our top tips for doing just that.
Maintain a diet and exercise regime
As winter starts, so does the exam period, quickly followed by the mid-year break. A good diet and fitness regime is often compromised by the stress of exams, but the mid-year holidays offer a fantastic opportunity to get back on track.
Rather than exercising outside in the cold, consider joining a gym or any sort of indoor fitness activity, such as yoga, Pilates, or even badminton. Often, you can access a student discount, so make sure you bring your student card with you.
Cooking in the summer heat is never fun, so winter is the perfect time to dust off your stovetop and crack open the oven. There’s nothing better than a healthy roast dinner, a hot soup made from scratch, or even a cup of herbal tea on a cold day to keep you warm inside and out. Fresh ginger, garlic, lemon and honey brewed in boiling water also makes for a very healing winter tonic.
Even though it’s tempting to stay indoors for the entirety of winter, it’s important to spend at least part of your time outdoors. While some Australian cities become quite dark over winter (Melbourne, we’re looking at you), absorbing a bit of vitamin D from the sun will do wonders for your physical and mental health. Spending time outdoors has been proven to boost your immune system and mood, both of which can be compromised during winter.
Prevent cold and flu
To prevent catching a cold or flu, you can consider getting a flu shot. Most universities offer this to students for free, or for no more than $20 – you just need to provide your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) card. In addition, practise healthy habits such as keeping your hands clean and avoiding close contact with others who may be sick.
If you do end up getting sick this winter, the best thing you can do is stay home. Going out and exerting yourself when all your body needs is to rest will significantly increase your recovery time. Plus, you’ll risk making other people sick. Visit your GP or local pharmacist for advice on what to do when you’re feeling unwell.
Although winter in Australia tends to bring more rain (unless you’re in the north, where it’s the dry season), the colder temperatures can often leave you dehydrated. There’s science backing this up, but for a lot of us, it just means noticing that our skin is a lot drier than it usually is.
To avoid this, make sure you drink the recommended two litres of water per day. If you want to inspire yourself to drink more, you should treat yourself to a nice reusable bottle rather than constantly repurchasing disposable plastic bottles. You may also want to commit to a hydrating skincare routine to keep you moisturised. Look for good quality lip balms, body lotions, and facial products, like Jurlique’s new Moisture Plus Rare Rose collection. The range is designed to rehydrate your complexion and replenish moisture levels for 24 hours, so you know it will do a good job of beating winter-induced dryness.
Get some sleep
Sleep is basically the foundation of good health – if you’re not getting enough, your physical and mental health can suffer. Take this time to improve your sleep routine by adopting a few good habits. Avoid your phone and computer late at night, don’t drink coffee in the afternoon or evening, keep your waking and sleeping times consistent, and get regular exercise (but not right before bed).
And, while you might be craving warm and cosy sleeping quarters over winter, you’re actually better off maintaining a cool or cold temperature in the bedroom to enhance your sleep.
Step one to keeping warm: buy a coat, and make sure it’s waterproof! Several stores in Australia offer a student discount of around 10%, so grab your student card and go shopping.
Your apartment, house or accommodation is likely to have some form of heating, but if you’re still struggling to keep warm, you can buy small, inexpensive heaters from most department stores.
Alternatively, buy a wool or cotton fleece blanket for your bed (they’re the warmest), and thick socks and a beanie for when you’re outside.
Take care of your mental health
Seasonal depression (also known as the ‘winter blues’) affects many of us. Symptoms can include having less energy, oversleeping, and appetite changes. Always know that there are support and self-help services available if you feel like the winter months are getting you down. Try calling one of the free 24-hour mental health hotlines like Beyond Blue or Lifeline, visit your university’s counselling service, or download a free mental health app like Headspace.