How to stay healthy this winter

Winter storms and cold temperatures puts lots of pressure on the NHS as common mild infections spread rapidly and the demand for healthcare soars. It is time that we take control of our health in order to stay well against the challenges that winter brings. So what can I do to help?

Protect yourself

It may seem obvious, but washing your hands is literally the easiest way of staving off many viruses over the winter. The majority of us just don’t do it enough. Thousands of hot and cramped people using public transport, making it a breeding site for bacteria. It’s vital that you wash your hands or use an alcohol hand gel as soon as you can as you can pick up germs from surfaces others have touched. Before you eat is also a key moment, as ingesting germs is the fastest way to catch a stomach bug that results in vomiting and diarrhoea that spreads quickly to those around us.

Taking responsibility for our health also means looking at what we eat. You can build a strong immune defence by adding or increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables. Supplements, of minerals and vitamins can be used as a top up if you’re particularly deficient in one vitamin or another – but they can’t be used as a substitute for a healthy diet.

During dark winter months, people underestimate the value of good mental health. A positive outlook can work wonders, motivating yourself to think healthily as well as taking the steps to keep physically healthy too. The social calendar can be slow early in the year, but marking out time to spend with friends and family is also key for fighting winter blues.

It might be grim and grey outside but it’s important to take in winter sunlight whenever you can. boosting levels of Vitamin D and taking the opportunity for exercise, even if it’s a walk.

What happens if I get ill?

If you get ill, don’t rush to your GP and demand antibiotics, instead take the time to go to your local pharmacy. They are a vital resource with a wide range of remedies for cold and flu symptoms. They can also advise whether you do actually need a GP appointment. Prevent the spreading of germs by making sure you dispose of used tissues promptly and wash your hands afterwards. You may think that you should make the effort to go to work but it’s generally better for everyone if you stay at home until your symptoms have cleared.

Help others stay well

While the cold can affect anyone even the healthiest person, older people are particularly susceptible to illness and often feel isolated and depressed during these winter months. If you have elderly friends, neighbours or family, you can make a real difference by helping out; whether it’s shopping, days out or even popping round for some tea. If they do get ill, then having someone close by to call on in an emergency is a real benefit.

Of course, if you need health services this winter than the NHS is there to deliver the best possible care.