How to Stay Healthy During the Winter Season

Medical professionals are exposed to illnesses regularly- they’re there to heal the patients, after all! Per diem clinicians often work at multiple facilities to fit their schedule and lifestyle, which is the beauty of the position. But this also means more exposure to illnesses. Here are ways per diem clinicians can stay healthy during the winter season.

10 Ways Clinicians Can Stay Healthy This Winter

1. Meal Preparation

If you prepare your meals at home prior to your shift, you can ensure that you will intake whole, natural foods and avoid processed, sugary food from the vending machine or cafeteria. Preparation also includes preparing snacks like carrots, apple slices, and nuts, which are filled with vitamin C, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids that will keep you healthy.

2. Stay Hydrated

Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 50%-70% of your body weight (Mayo Clinic). To keep your cells, especially your immune system running properly, you need water to build cells and get rid of waste. Water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated, many fruits and vegetables, like celery, contain water – another great reason to meal prep!

3. Exercise

Make time to move. Even if it’s low impact movement like yoga. Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells, which strengthens your body’s immune system.

4. Wash your Hands

Chances are you already wash your hands excessively. It’s important to encourage and educate others about hand washing, especially if it’s people close to you like your family.

5. Eat Garlic

Garlic contains nutrients that strengthen your immune system and fights against germs. Similar to water, these compounds boost the disease-fighting response in white blood cells if they encounter a virus.

6. Get Enough Sleep

Your body needs sleep to prevent and fight illnesses. When you sleep, “your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you're under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease the production of these protective cytokines.” (Mayo Clinic)

7. Increase Vitamin D Intake

In the winter, there is less daylight, making it easier to lack vitamin D (which we get from the sun). Increase your intake of vitamin D via supplements or foods that are rich in vitamin D include cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, beef liver, and egg yolk. (Harvard)

8. Sip Dandelion Tea

Dandelion tea, including leaves, roots, and stems, is high in vitamin A. One study concluded “the antiviral activity of dandelion extracts indicates that a component or components of these extracts possess anti-influenza virus properties”. (He)

9. Add Burdock Root to your Tea

Burdock root is a lymphagogue and alterative. Meaning, it helps drain and move toxins out of the lymph nodes and acts of an “alterative”, or blood purifier, clearing the bloodstream of toxins. “Scientific research now provides some insight into how burdock may fight infections. Some studies have found that it has antibacterial qualities. It appears to be particularly useful for killing biofilms, which are large, sticky colonies of bacteria.” (Medical News Today) Mix dandelion and burdock root for a nutritious, cozy tea.

10. Be Kind to Yourself

The WHO states, “there is no health without mental health”. “There are multiple associations between mental health and chronic physical conditions”. Those with chronic physical conditions can be more prone to illness. That’s why it’s important to take time for yourself, meditate, and rest to let your body recuperate after long shifts. It’s essential for clinicians to care for themselves so that they can help care for others. 

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Arreola R, Quintero-Fabián S, López-Roa RI, et al. Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds. J Immunol Res. 2015;2015:401630. doi:10.1155/2015/401630
Harvard School of Public Health

He, W., Han, H., Wang, W. et al. Anti-influenza virus effect of aqueous extracts from dandelion. Virol J 8, 538 (2011). 

Mayo Clinic. “Water: How much should you drink every day?” 

Medical News Today. “What to know about burdock root”. 

Promoting mental health: concepts, emerging evidence, practice : summary report / a report from the World Health Organization, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in collaboration with the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) and the University of Melbourne. (2004)