Winter is given a bad rap because it brings the cold and flu season and those cold, dark mornings. This 2013-2014 winter season is even more harsh due to the “Polar Vortex” phenomenon earlier this month, causing temperatures to dip into the single digits and even the negatives. 

However, with a little effort, there is no reason for your health to suffer during the colder months. Here are five tips to keep your body protected from Jack Frost this season.

First, the Robert M. McChesney Student Activity Center (SAC) has already been packed with athletes training for sports and students fulfilling their new year’s resolutions. Although it might seem to be a difficult task to exercise during the winter months, it can be done. Take advantage of the weight room and the recently reopened pool to get in shape and burn off those Christmas sugar cookies. You will also want to make an effort to stay hydrated because your body needs the same amount of fluids to function regardless of the season. Winter headaches and fatigue are often attributed to dehydration.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 1.32.50 PMSecond, as the nights become frigid and harsh, it might not be such a bad idea to go to bed an hour or two earlier than you would in the summer. The spring 2014 school semester does bring a new class schedule (and College Night), but if you sacrifice online streaming the most recent season of “Breaking Bad” until tomorrow instead of tonight, you’ll be a little more well-rested. A well-rested body is a healthier body.

Then, wash your hands regularly! This cannot be stressed enough, because illness-causing germs blossom in wintertime. During winter, the humidity in the outside air plunges. Thanks to indoor heating, things are even drier inside and prime for germ spreading. They are everywhere: doorknobs, the television remote, your textbooks and especially community bathrooms. To properly wash your hands, use antibacterial hand soap, lather your hands and scrub under lukewarm running water for at least twenty seconds.

Speaking of warm water, do you love long warm showers? During winter, stay away from them. Although it is tempting, taking a long hot shower has effects that are more negative than positive. Not only do prolonged warm showers strip the skin of natural oils that protect your epidermis against cold winds, they also contribute to conditions such as dry skin, eczema and ashy joints.

Chapped lips are no joke as well, so it isn’t a bad idea to stock up on Carmex and ChapStick. Men, you need to moisturize your skin with body and hand lotion to keep it hydrated, because women are not the only people that suffer from skin irritations during winter.

Finally, as winter sets in it can be tempting to start eating more warm comfort foods that are often high in fat and salt, such as hot chocolate and toaster pastries. Instead, find comfort in foods such as nourishing soups and healthy vegetables which are available at the Anna Irvin Dining Hall.

If you are fighting a cold or sore throat, hot tea with lemon and honey is an ideal beverage, both for its soothing elements and its bacteria fighting properties. Be sure your diet includes fruit and vegetables packed with vitamins and minerals, such as green vegetables, sweet potatoes, beetroot and bananas.

Using these five tips, you can keep in prime health during this harsh winter season and be ready to tackle allergy season when spring arrives in March.