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Staying healthy on a budget this winter

Boost your immune system this winter without spending big

International student preparing a fresh dinner in her home kitchen
International student preparing a fresh dinner in her home kitchen

Winter is a season for hot drinks, cosy clothing and evenings with friends around the fire. But it’s also when a lot of us get sick. The lack of sunlight, cold air and spending more time with people inside all make it easier for a nasty cold or flu to strike.

While you might not be able to completely avoid getting sick this winter, staying healthy and giving your immune system a boost can give you an extra layer of protection against these seasonal illnesses.

Let’s take you through the top six ways to stay healthy on a budget this winter.

Cook healthy meals

Eating healthy food is the easiest way to boost your immune system in winter and it doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, buying fruit and vegetables that are in season can significantly reduce the cost of your grocery shop.

Winter vegetables like pumpkin, onions, carrots, potatoes and cauliflower are perfect for making a hearty soup or roasting to throw together in a tasty winter salad. And don’t forget those delicious citrus fruits, such as oranges and mandarins, for getting your vital dose of vitamin C.

Young international student cutting up oranges in her kitchen while wearing a white linen shirt

Get some sunshine

Vitamin D is super important for a healthy immune system, and winter is a time when most people don’t get enough of it.

The easiest way to get your daily dose of vitamin D is by getting some sun on your skin. Find a sunny spot in your garden or local park and spend some time soaking up the winter sunshine.

The best part? It’s completely free. Just remember to use sunscreen and check out the nib Skin Profiler to better understand skin health in Australia (as it may be different to what you’re used to back home).

Get your flu jab

Winter comes with the onset of the dreaded flu season, and this year is predicted to be a particularly bad one.

The easiest way to avoid getting the flu is by getting the flu shot – that’s why the Australian Government is recommending influenza vaccines for every individual over the age of six months. You can get a flu shot at your local pharmacy or GP.

Move your body

It can be hard to find the motivation to exercise in winter but it’s usually when we need it the most. The cold and dreary days can sometimes have a negative effect on your mental health, so while it’s usually more tempting to stay curled up under a blanket, moving your
body can give you a much needed boost of endorphins and help you feel better.

Whether you try a free workout class on YouTube, have an at-home yoga session or brave the cold and head outside for a brisk winter walk, you’re guaranteed to feel the benefits.

Related: 10-minute do-anywhere workout

Stay warm

Feeling cold makes it difficult to study, relax or even sleep. But if you’re on a budget, you might be worried about the cost of running your heaters all winter. Luckily, there are some more affordable ways to stay warm.

Start by opening your curtains in the morning to let the sun into your home and closing them as soon as it gets dark. You can also keep a hot water bottle on your lap while you’re studying and keep up your intake of warm drinks. When you get dressed in the morning, make sure you wear a few layers, as this will keep you warmer than just one jumper or coat. And if you're living in a particularly cold part of Australia, you might also consider investing in some thermal layers for extra cold days.

Get a good night’s sleep

Don’t underestimate the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. It’s not only essential for your focus and alertness but for maintaining a healthy immune system as well.

If you’re struggling to get a full eight hours of sleep, you might need to implement a night time routine. This could include following:

  • Going to bed at the same time every night

  • Limiting screen time before bed

  • Having a warm bath or shower

  • Diffusing calming essential oils

  • Doing some gentle yoga stretches

If you’re still struggling to get a good night’s sleep, it’s worth speaking to a GP or sleep specialist.

Chat to a doctor if you need to

If you do become unwell this winter, you might need to speak to a doctor. Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to leave home to see someone. With telehealth, you can chat to a doctor from the comfort of your own home. This means no long wait times, delayed appointments or sitting in a waiting room with other sick people.

After your chat, you might be sent a script for medication, a referral for an in-clinic appointment or simply some advice for getting better. And the best part? At nib, we cover these kinds of appointments!

The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner.