We wanted to give you some ideas of some enjoyable and easy ways to keep yourself mentally and physically well.
Proactive self-care is something we should be thinking about all year round to keep ourselves healthy, but especially at this time of the year. What’s great about self-care is that you have the power to take steps to improve the way you feel and prevent or reduce the risks of becoming ill. There’s also evidence that suggests being as healthy as we can helps us to better cope with life’s challenges.
Take control of your self-care, take control of your health, take control of your life.
Self-care during winter
During the winter, there can be more viruses and germs around that make us ill. Knowing how you can help and care for yourself and loved ones at home for minor illnesses, can lead to a speedier recovery and prevents you from spending unnecessary time in a GP or hospital waiting room.
Keep your medicine cupboard stocked
There are specific medicines that you can keep within your home in case of minor ailments and illnesses occurring such as colds, headaches or diarrhoea. Make sure that medicines are always stored in a safe place, out of reach from children.
It is important that you always read the information leaflets for each medicine and follow the directions on the packaging. Do not exceed the dose stated. Medicines have an expiry date, therefore be sure to check the dates before use and if it is past it’s use-by date replace it.
- Antidiarrhoea tablets
- Antihistamine tablets and cream
- Antiseptic cream
- Eye-wash solution
- An ice pack
- Oral rehydration salts
- Painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Sore throat and cough lozenges
Have your vaccines
The Flu vaccine
The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It’s offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications, including school children, those who are pregnant, those with certain health conditions, those who live in long-stay residential care, people who receive carer’s allowance or who are a main carer for a person who is at risk, those who live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, and people who are 50 and over.
Find out more about the flu vaccine.
The Covid-19 vaccine
Everyone aged 5 (on or before 31 August 2022) and over can get a 1st and 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
People aged 16 and over, and some children aged 12 to 15, can also get a booster dose.
People aged 5 and over who had a severely weakened immune system when they had their 1st or 2nd dose will be offered an additional primary dose (3rd dose) before any booster doses.
Some people, including those aged 50 years or over, those at higher risk or who are pregnant, and frontline health and social care workers, will be offered a seasonal booster (autumn booster).
Find out more about the Covid-19 vaccine.
Advice for parents
The Health for Kids website has a wealth of information for kids and adults on all topics, including a staying well over winter article for parents. The Health for U5s website also has articles on winter safety and minor ailments and illnesses, amongst many others.
The Health for Teens website contains articles on everything from flu to exam stress and STIs to body image.
More self-care tips
Self-care for mental wellness
Here are some self-care tips to manage your mental health and emotional wellbeing:
Stay connected with others
Stay in touch with family, friends and work colleagues. Try to meet in person if you can.
You could also try joining a club (such as a book or knitting club), taking a group class, join a team sport or volunteer to meet new people.
Talk about your worries
Speak with others about how you are feeling.
Notice your feelings: Being present in the moment and aware of how you’re feeling can help you identify what matters to you or a change you could make to help yourself to feel better.
Plan practical things
Structure and plan your day. Get into a routine, even doing small things like keeping on top of household chores 1 – 2 jobs a day can help you feel better and more in control.
Having a ‘to do list’ can help in identifying the sort of things you want to do but also help in planning how to achieve them.
Try to set boundaries with yourself and achieve daily goals.
Do not stay glued to the news: Limit the time you spend watching or reading the news so you’re not constantly exposed to upsetting stories.
Limit the time you spend on the internet or tracking social media: Spending a significant amount of time on social media can increase anxiety and decrease self-esteem. Set boundaries and limit the time you spend on social media.
Try to find things to do that you enjoy
Have something to look forward to; meet a friend, go for a walk, do an activity that brings you joy. Try to avoid staying in all the time.
Take time to relax
Whether it’s reading a book, taking five minutes to rest or do some box breathing or having a bath all helps to improve your wellbeing.
Get a good sleep
Sleep has a huge impact on how we feel. Avoid looking at screens and don’t have caffeine (such as coffee, tea, energy drinks) or alcohol before bedtime. Create an environment that promotes sleep. Keep your bedroom dark, cool, quiet and tidy at night.
Spend time outside
Being in nature is proven to boost your mood and also exposes you to the sun, which will help you absorb vitamin D. Try gardening or going for a walk.
Learn a new skill
Boost your confidence and challenge yourself by trying something new or rediscovering an old interest.
By paying someone a compliment, giving time or a donation to a charity or helping a neighbour, you can make yourself feel valued at the same time as supporting others.
Self-care for physical wellness
Moving your body not only helps you to keep fit and burn energy, but it also releases endorphins that make you feel good. Go at your own pace and find an exercise you enjoy, whether that is a walk, swimming, dancing or going to the gym. Aim to do 150 minutes of moderate intensive activity a week. Find out more about exercise recommendations on the NHS website.
Try to eat a healthy, balanced diet, including five fruit or vegetables a day. Keep amounts of processed foods, salt and saturated fats as low as you can. Find out more about healthy eating advice on the NHS website.
Reduce alcohol intake
Regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week risks damaging your health. If you want to cut down, try to have several drink-free days each week and if you do drink, spread your alcohol intake over three or more days, while not exceeding 14 units a week. Find more advice on alcohol.
Stopping smoking helps to improve both your physical and mental health, and can save you money. Find more advice on stopping smoking.
Know where to go for help
For common winter ailments, such as colds, sickness and diarrhoea or earache, you can get help and advice from your local pharmacist. They can give treatment and advice for a range of minor illnesses and can tell you if you need to see a doctor. They can also help to signpost you to other health support if you need it.
The NHS website contains a wealth of advice and information on a variety of illnesses and conditions, medicines, healthy living advice and more.
Call NHS 111 or visit the 111 website to get help for your symptoms.
You can contact your general practitioner (GP) if you have any health concern. They can treat many conditions and give advice. They can also refer you to other NHS services for specialist support.
Mental health Support
For mental health support visit our mental health support hub, which has a range of resources.
For urgent support with your mental health you can call the Mental Health Central Access Point Freephone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0808 800 3302.
In an emergency
Always call 999 if there is a physical threat to life.
Other useful self-care resources