Tips for winter wellness

This article is sponsored by Centrum, Vitabiotics, Seven Seas, Covonia, BronchoStop & Night Nurse

Whilst winter is a time filled with comforting hot chocolates, cosy jumpers and plenty of festivities, sometimes you need a little TLC. That’s why we’ve rounded up some top winter health tips for wellness during the colder months, along with products to give you a helping hand.

Why winter may affect our health

With winter comes a drop in temperature, and it’s the colder weather that may lead to more health risks in winter, especially for older adults. Why? With more people venturing indoors to keep warm and socialising in confined spaces such as cafes and shopping centres, viruses like colds and flu, which are spread through the air via small droplets when we cough or sneeze, can spread more easily from person-to-person.

Colder weather can also have an effect on the heart and circulation, which may lead to an increased risk of illnesses such as stroke, heart attack and hypothermia in more vulnerable people. Winter weather conditions can also result in accidents such as slipping on icy ground or snow.

It’s not just physical health that may be affected, winter can also impact mental health. Whilst it’s cold, the weather conditions can sometimes make it harder for some people to get out and about and leave the house which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Combined with the lack of light in the winter months, some people may experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is more than feeling a little fed up during winter's darker days. It’s a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. Sometimes known as ‘winter depression’, SAD symptoms usually appear during the winter and improve when spring arrives but can happen at any time of the year. If you think you might be experiencing SAD, talk to your GP for more support.

Who’s most at risk from cold weather?

Some groups of people may be more vulnerable to the effects of cold weather, including:

• People aged 65 and above

• Babies and children under five

• People with a long-term health condition, disability and/or mental health condition

• Those who are pregnant

• Those who can’t afford to heat their home, for example if they’re on a lower income

But don't worry! There are things you can do to help support your health during winter. Watch our video below to find out how our Boots pharmacists can help with your health throughout the colder months.

Read on for some of our top winter health tips...

1. Keep warm

Although we might dream of sitting by the fire whilst a snowy winter wonderland swirls around outside, the reality is often cold and damp weather, with little sunshine. All of this can make it a challenge to keep warm.

So, let's explore how to keep warm in winter. Try to keep your home heated to a comfortable temperature. The NHS advises:

• 18C – if you’re over 65, have restricted mobility or a health condition

• 16C-20C – for babies’ rooms at night-time (to keep your baby comfortable and to help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome SIDS)
• Cooler than 18C – if you’re under 65, healthy and active and comfortable with this temperature

If heating your whole house isn't possible, when you're at home, try to keep your living room warm throughout the day and heat your bedroom before going to bed. Keeping your windows closed at night, drawing curtains in the evening and closing any doors throughout the house can help trap the heat in and stop any pesky drafts. Winter’s also the time to dig out those cosy hot water bottles and blankets for extra warmth.

It’s not just our homes we need to keep warm. Don’t forget to take layers and wrap up warm when you’re out and about, too. Cue your favourite scarf, hat and gloves set.

2. Check on neighbours, friends & relatives

Some people may need a little help during winter, especially if they’re more vulnerable, such as those who are older or have a long-term health condition.

If you’re able to, you could check in on a neighbour, family member or friend to see if they need anything. Or if you think you need support, it’s important to let those around you know you’d like some help.

If you’re able to help someone there are lots of things you may be able to do, including:

• Helping safely grit icy driveways or clear away snow

• Popping round to keep someone company if they’re living alone and struggling to get out as much in the cold weather

• Helping with grocery shopping and making sure they’ve got enough food, drink and household essentials

• Making sure they’ve got any prescription medicine they may need before bouts of bad weather

• Encouraging them to wear appropriate winter shoes and wrap up warm, keeping their mouth and chest covered with a scarf to help protect against cold weather

3. Manage dry skin

Winter can have an effect on skin thanks to things like cold temperatures, wind and central heating. These can all disrupt the skin’s barrier and may make it dry, red, itchy and irritated as well as worsening existing dry skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Here are some tips for helping manage irritated and dry winter skin:

• Use a rich moisturiser on your face and body to seal in hydration and help protect the skin’s barrier

• Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen of minimum SPF30 to help protect skin against the sun’s UV rays which are still present even during winter

• Carry around a hand cream and lip balm to help soothe chapped skin whilst you’re out and about in the cold

• Have warm showers instead of hot showers, as hotter water can strip your skin of its essential oils and make it drier

For help with specific skin conditions, here are some tips for managing eczema and psoriasis.

You can also speak to one of our Boots pharmacists for advice, or your GP if symptoms persist. Alternatively you may wish to consider our Boots Online Doctor Eczema Treatment* or Psoriasis Treatment*  services, if suitable for you.

4. Consider getting a flu vaccination

Flu is more widespread during winter and can make some people seriously ill. The best way to help protect yourself and others from catching and spreading flu is to get the flu vaccination. Boots offers a Winter Flu Jab Service, which is free for those eligible on the NHS**, or alternatively, you can book our private service.***

5. Keep active

Not only does exercise support your physical health, but it can also have a positive effect on your mental health, which is especially important if you’re experiencing the winter blues. Exercise releases feel-good hormones, dopamine and serotonin, which can help boost your mood, so try to find something that you enjoy and can do regularly throughout the colder months.

6. Eat well

It’s age-old advice for good reason. Eating a varied and balanced diet is the best way to help your body get the essential nutrients it needs to support your health and immune system. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and try to have at least one hot meal a day to help you stay warm.

7. Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is important all year round. Even though you might not feel as thirsty in winter as you would in summer, don’t forget to drink enough throughout the day.

It’s recommended to drink six to eight glasses of fluid a day which can include water, lower-fat milk (or unsweetened plant-based alternatives) and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee in moderation. Try to keep high-sugar drinks, such as fizzy drinks and fruit juices, to a minimum.

When the weather’s chilly, it might not always be appealing to have a cold drink, so you may find it helpful to consume more hot drinks throughout the day in winter to help you feel warm.

Here are some tips for drinking more water.

8. Drink alcohol sensibly

The holidays are a time when some people enjoy a tipple or two, perhaps drinking more alcohol than they usually would. It’s important to remember not to drink alcohol excessively though, as the more you drink, the higher the health risks are.

To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level, the UK government advise not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week on a regular basis and to spread drinking over three or more days if you often drink 14 units in a week.

Be mindful that drinking too much, too quickly on one occasion (also known as single session drinking) such as a Christmas party can increase your risk of alcohol-related illness or:

• Accidents

• Injury

• Misjudging risky situations

• Losing self-control and behaving in ways you wouldn’t normally

Here are some tips to help reduce your health risks:

• Limit how much alcohol you drink

• Drink more slowly

• Drink with food and not on an empty stomach

• Stay hydrated by alternating with water or non-alcoholic drinks

If you’re looking to take a break from alcohol, here are some tips on how to do an alcohol detox at home.

9. Consider vitamins & supplements

Whilst a healthy diet should be your first port of call for nourishing yourself from the inside out, you may want to consider taking vitamins and supplements to support your diet.

Unlike other vitamins, it’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet alone. The main source is from the action of sunlight on our skin, but in the UK during autumn and winter, the sun isn’t strong enough for our bodies to make all the vitamin D it needs. The NHS advises adults and children over the age of four to consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during these months.

We have a wide range of vitamins and supplements at Boots, including ones containing vitamin D. Here are some to consider:

Consider: Centrum Women 50+ Multivitamins & Minerals, 30 Tablets

• From the world’s No.1 multivitamin brand±

• 30 tablets

• Suitable for women aged over 50

±This daily multivitamin is filled with key nutrients to support the health needs of women aged over 50. Vitamin C contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system, vitamin B6 helps regulate hormonal activity and vitamin B12 supports the normal functioning of the nervous system.

±The World's No.1 Multivitamin, based on Worldwide value sales of the Centrum range. For verification please contact

Consider: Vitabiotics Immunace Original

• 30 tablets

• Advanced micronutrients

• One-month supply 

Delivering nutritional support in one easy-to-take tablet, Immunace contains vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc and selenium which all support normal immune function, along with vitamin E which helps protect cells from oxidative stress. 

Consider: Seven Seas Omega-3 & Immunity with Vitamin C & Vitamin D 30 Day Duo Pack

• One-month supply

This formula from Seven Seas is packed with a blend of vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium and copper which help support the normal function of the immune system. Plus, it contains omega-3 oils which support heart and brain health.‡ 

Even if you’re prepared for the winter, keeping warm and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle, it’s still possible to get ill with bugs such as coughs, colds and flu. Here are some medicines to consider for when you need a helping hand:

Consider: Covonia Dry & Tickly Cough Linctus 180ml

• Non-drowsy

• Soothing relief

• Oral solution

Dry and tickly cough? This easy-to-take liquid contains glycerol which coats the throat to help soothe and relieve the discomfort and irritation from dry coughs and sore throats.

Contains the active ingredient Glycerol. Always read the label.

Consider: BronchoStop Cough Syrup - 120ml

• Traditional herbal medicine

• For ages 12 years+

With thyme herb extract and marshmallow root extract, BronchoStop Cough Syrup is a traditional herbal medicine used to help relieve chesty, dry, tickly, irritating coughs and catarrh.

Based on traditional use only. Each 15ml of oral syrup contains the active ingredients: 120 mg of extract (as dry extract) from Thyme herb (Thymus vulgaris L. and Thymus zygis L.,herb ) (DER 7-13:1), 830mg of extract (as liquid extract) from Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis L.) (DER 1:12-14). Always read the label.

Consider: Night Nurse Liquid 160ml 

• Contains eight doses

• To be taken only at night-time

• For aged 16 years+

Night Nurse liquid has been specially formulated to provide a complete night-time cold and flu treatment by quickly providing relief from major cold and flu symptoms, including tickly cough and sore throat, runny nose, aches and pains, fevers and shivers.

Contains paracetamol, promethazine hydrochloride, dextromethorphan hydrobromide. Always read the label.

To help stop the spread of germs, make sure to wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds. You may like to consider keeping some anti-viral gel with you to protect against colds and flu when you’re out and about, too. Don’t forget to keep surfaces around you disinfected, especially when you’re ill, to help reduce the risk of passing illness onto someone else.

Need some help staying warm and cosy this winter?

Try: Dreamland Snuggle Up Warming Throw – Pink

• Size: 120x160cm

• Power: 220-240V

• Heats up in five minutes

• Active safety control

• One intelliheat detachable control

• Machine washable and tumble dryer safe

For extra warmth, snuggle up with this electrical heated throw. It’s perfect for taking the chill away whilst relaxing or working from home and the plush pink velvet colour will look stylish in any home.

Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before use. Always unplug the blanket before going to bed. Never use a hot water bottle at the same time as an electric blanket. Check regularly for wear and tear.

Find more winter health tips in our seasonal health hub.

*Access to prescription-only treatment is subject to an online consultation with a clinician to assess suitability. Subject to availability. Charges apply.

**Subject to availability. Eligibility criteria apply.

***Injectable vaccine service costs £16.99 (or £21.99 in Jersey. Most Boots pharmacies). NHS flu vaccinations are available in most Boots pharmacies in England and Wales and in some Boots pharmacies in Scotland and NI.

Food supplements are intended to supplement the diet and should not be substituted for a varied diet or healthy lifestyle.

EPA & DHA contributes to normal heart function. DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal brain function. The beneficial effect for the heart is obtained with a daily intake of 250 mg EPA and DHA. The beneficial effects for brain and vision are obtained with a daily intake of 250 mg DHA.