Christmas is a hectic time of year for most. The stress of Christmas preparations coupled with the cold winter weather leaves many feeling tired and sluggish; lack of sunlight (which disrupts our sleep / waking cycles) often adds to it all. This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a number of additional challenges weigh on our minds: how to protect our most vulnerable, how to ensure we stay in touch despite restrictions in social “bubble” numbers, whether or not to take vaccines we may not have had before…
Recommended tips to promote physical health, mental health and overall well-being include:
- Keeping a regular routine by starting your day at roughly the same time. Although it is tempting to stay in pyjamas all day, a regular routine is essential for motivation, self-confidence and sense of purpose.
- Spending time outdoors in natural daylight on a regular basis. Make sure to wear a mask if you cannot maintain a reasonable physical distance from those outside your network.
- Switching off in your free time – avoid engagement in any work or information that is not conducive to your mental health; ensure you have screen-free time at least an hour before bedtime.
- De-stressing with exercise or meditation or other activities that can be carried out as a family. Regular exercise helps to control weight and boost your immune system along with, improving posture, sleep quality, bone health and concentration. Family activities are also a great way to break the tension that can build if the family is constantly cooped up inside the house.
- Staying in touch with those you love is vital. Social connections are invaluable for providing support and easing anxiety; call by telephone, face time, fill out a festive card or write a letter.
- Eating healthy and avoiding the temptation to reach for unhealthy comfort food is especially important. Try to meet your your 5 A Day target of fruit and veg a day, opting for multiple colours to get the best intake of vitamins and minerals. Should you find yourself craving sugary treats, try a juicy piece of fruit instead!
A warm bowlful of breakfast on a cold morning is a delicious way to start the day.
- Try some porridge or Weetabix with a sliced banana, some berries or other fruit to add flavour.
- Keeping hydrated – opt for water as opposed to several juice drinks that inevitably increase your sugar intake. Avoiding excess consumption of alcohol; if you do decide to drink keep to recommended units spaced out over several days.
- Refraining from smoking and ensuring that you, your children or pets stay away from exposure to second-hand smoke.
- Asking your local pharmacist for advice on how to treat symptoms for coughs, colds, sore throats, aches and pain; remembering that if you have any Covid symptoms it is important to stay home, isolate and call 111 for guidance.
- Making sure your medicine cabinet is adequately stocked and all supplies are not past their ‘sell by’ dates.
- Strongly considering vaccination if you have been advised to do so; ensure you get your information from the right sources before making your decision. Your GP/ Nurse Practitioner will likely provide the relevant reasoning at the time. The flu vaccine prevents several strains of the influenza virus, it also reduces the risk of flu-related illnesses and decreases primary care visits by more than 40% [CDC,2020].