Healthy living

Staying healthy in winter

Stay well to keep doing the things you love this winter.

  • Get your annual influenza vaccination.
  • Keep up with healthy hygiene habits.
  • Make sure you’re up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations.

Healthy hygiene habits

Wash your hands

Keeping your hands clean is the best way to get rid of germs. Make sure you wash your hands often with soap and warm water, or an alcohol-based rub (hand sanitiser). 

Cover coughs and sneezes

It is important that you use disposable tissues rather than your hands or a handkerchief when you cough or sneeze. Make sure you always:

  • cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use your inner elbow
  • put the tissue into a closed-top bin as soon as possible
  • then wash your hands with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitiser.

Stay home

If you are sick, stay home.

Viruses can be very serious for some people including young children, older people, pregnant women, Aboriginal people and people with chronic medical conditions – so it is especially important to keep your distance.

A very simple way to reduce the spread of germs is to stand or sit away from people when you or they are coughing or sneezing (at least 1 metre – about an arm's length).

Keep surfaces clean

Clean your home and work surfaces regularly to help get rid of germs, this includes:

  • phones
  • door handles
  • children's toys
  • keyboards.

You can use warm water and detergent to do this. Avoid using antibacterial cleansers (disinfectants) as these can make germs resistant to them.

Eat nutritious food

Eating food high in nutritional value will feed your body the vitamins, rich carbohydrates and fats that give you the nourishment you need to recover more quickly.

While, it may be tempting to eat more food in winter, it is better to eat a well-balanced diet throughout the year.

Try to include foods in your diet that are:

  • high in antioxidants, protein and fibre
  • high in vitamins B, C, D and E
  • low in sugars and fats.

Eat healthier this winter and try some of our nutrient packed recipes.

Drink plenty of water

It’s also important to hydrate yourself by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

In summer, the hot weather reminds us that we are thirsty.

It’s easy to neglect hydration when the weather becomes cooler because we think our body doesn’t need any more water.

Skin problems, like eczema, also become more common in the winter because of the change in temperature, blustery weather and indoor heating can dry out our skin

Keeping your body well hydrated will help to keep your skin healthy, flush out toxins and ward off winter bugs.

Keep yourself active

It’s common to feel less motivated during the winter months and even getting out of bed can sometimes feel like a chore.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a condition associated with winter, and can be offset by keeping active and maintaining regular contact with others.

We’re lucky living in WA, as our Mediterranean climate means that while winter is our wettest season, we also enjoy many cool, sunny days.

Try to get into a routine of getting out and doing some exercise, whether it is walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift or escalator instead swap your normal routine by go for a daily walk.

Read our tips for being active.

Stay warm and consider others

Winter can be a tough time for many people in our community.

Winter is a good time to check up on how our friends, relatives and neighbours who may be more vulnerable than you to cold weather are feeling

Cold weather is especially dangerous for older people and people with pre-existing or chronic health conditions.

People with heart conditions or respiratory (breathing) problems including children wheezing may have worse symptoms during a cold spell and for several days after temperatures return to normal.

To keep warm and well during periods of cold weather you should:

  • keep curtains drawn and doors closed to block draughts
  • have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day if possible
  • eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter
  • wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer) keep as active as possible.
Managing asthma

Asthma affects 1 in 10 Australians.

As colds and influenza are more common in winter, the change of climate can trigger asthma attacks in children.

Breathing in cold air, wood smoke, and mould associated with winter climates, can also induce asthma symptoms.

Asthma symptoms include:

  • coughing – possibly starting with a dry cough
  • wheezing – a whistling or high pitched sound which may be heard as air is pushed out of narrow tight airways
  • shortness of breath – breathing may become quicker and shallow. This leads to breaths out which are prolonged and forced
  • tight chest – younger children may describe tummy ache, due the work of the “tummy” muscle (diaphragm) to assist with the work of breathing
  • possible vomiting associated with severe attacks.

Severe asthma symptoms include:

  • feeling very distressed and frightened
  • gasping for breath
  • being unable to speak more than single words
  • struggling to breathe
  • frequently sucking in at the throat and tummy (stomach).

Life threatening asthma symptoms include:

  • being unable to move and speak
  • appearing pale and blue around the lips
  • no audible wheezing.

Asthma can be treated by using medicated inhalers.

What you need to do

If you have asthma and are experiencing symptoms, follow the advice of your asthma action plan.

People experiencing asthma for the first time, should see their doctor for a diagnosis.

If you, your child, or someone you know is experiencing severe or life threatening asthma symptoms seek urgent medical attention and phone triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

Where to get help

Last reviewed: 30-03-2023

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.