Easy wins to boost your winter wellbeing

If you’re fearing a blue Christmas this year, you’re not alone. The coronavirus pandemic has turned 2020 on its head and taken its toll on millions of us as the year has gone on. 

Increasing loneliness and isolation, as well as fears of not being able to see family and friends during the festive season, are impacting on our physical and mental wellness, making it more important than ever to look after yourself this winter. Here’s how: 

Have your flu jab

If you’ve read reports about a lack of available flu vaccines this year, it might be tempting to give it a miss, but Public Health Wales has assured residents that there are enough vaccines to meet demand. You may have to wait a little longer than usual but, if you’re eligible for a free vaccine, it’s important to phone your surgery and make an appointment. 

Those currently eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine include people with a long term health condition, people aged 65 and over, pregnant women, children aged two to ten years old and carers, as well as Community First responders and volunteers providing planned first aid. Two and three year olds and all primary school children are being offered the vaccine in the form of a nasal spray. 

Flu typically doesn’t start circulating until mid December, so there is still time to get yourself inoculated. If you are not eligible for a free vaccine, the flu jab costs around £10 and is available at your local pharmacy, including those in supermarkets. To check your eligibility, visit www.beatflu.org.                                                                                  

Vital vitamins 

Many of us get the vitamins and minerals we need from a balanced diet, but there are a number of supplements that can boost not only your immune system but your frame of mind. 

Iron, calcium and vitamin C are essential and can make a real difference to your energy levels and health, while, during winter, you may need an extra boost of vitamin D, which we gain from sunlight during the summer months. If you’re having trouble sleeping, magnesium can help your muscles relax and your mind unwind before bedtime.

Super sleep

Speaking of which, how often have you heard someone say that sleep is the best medicine? The rush of modern life makes it easy to overlook the importance of a good night’s rest but, according to Bupa, sleep can improve your heart health, strengthen your immune system and reduce stress

Maintaining a peaceful environment in your bedroom and switching off phones and tablets two hours before you go to bed are good signals to your body (and brain!) that it’s time to go to sleep. However tempting it may be to have a drink to help you unwind, alcohol is actually more disruptive that conducive to a good night’s sleep and you might find yourself waking in the early hours. Have a read of our self-care tips to ease stress, which in turn can really improve your sleep pattern. 

A stroll in the park

While it’s tempting to stay in and reach for the remote, getting outside – yes, in all weathers! – is one of the best things you can do for your holistic health. According to the NHS, adults should be exercising for 150 minutes a week, which equates to a 20(ish) minute walk every day. Not only are the physical benefits evident, but being in nature is thought to boost our energy levels (something that the Japanese have been doing for years with shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing!).

Think you don’t have time? Try walking to your local shop a couple of times a week, rather than shopping online or driving to the supermarket for one big weekly shop. Or have a walking meeting; we’re all communicating via Teams and Zoom these days, so pop in your headphones and stroll as you talk (Steve Jobs was a big fan, you know!).

Boost your brain power

Stave off isolation and loneliness with an online course. How many times have you said you’d love to learn Spanish / write a novel / play the piano, but claimed you don’t have time? Without the daily commute, many of us are finding a spare hour or two in the day and, if you work from home and live alone, it’s easy to feel cut off from like-minded people.

A good place to find the right course for you could be your local authority’s lifelong learning department, or contact your local college and ask about adult learner provision. Some courses are free while others have a fee, but there’s a good chance you’re saving money on fuel or train fares at the moment, anyway. Not only will you be able to put your creativity to good use or learn a practical skill, but you’ll meet new friends, albeit virtually – and that’s always good for your health!

Stay safe 

It goes without saying that it’s essential this winter to continue to stick to government guidelines around preventing Covid-19. Yes, we all have coronavirus fatigue, but the NHS is under enormous strain and we can play our part in looking after ourselves and others. Wash your hands or use anti-bacterial gel regularly, don’t leave home without a mask and follow two-metre distancing. 

With health services such as physio, dentistry, optical care and counselling now available again, having the right health plan can be a real boost in your hour of need. We’re working remotely but still providing excellent customer service, so give us a call on 01633 226152 or drop us a line at admin@plutushealth.co.uk and we’ll help you choose the right cashback plan for you.

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