Emily Lopez

Emily Lopez has 5 articles published.

Keeping active in the summer

in Health & Beauty

Most of us will admit to spending some days at home, lazing on the couch and grazing on snacks, particularly when the weather is bad. However the summer months in Gibraltar, that boast plenty of sunshine, provide a great opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy some physical activity! 

According to the Gibraltar Health & Lifestyle Survey (2021) 47.1% of adults report doing little or no physical activity during their daily routine. Only half of us walk to work, and around a quarter of us do no regular exercise at all…

Exercising and keeping active is essential to healthy living; it helps to maintain bone health, encourage muscle strength and flexibility, improves co-ordination and can prevent weight-gain which in turn is associated with cancer, type2 diabetes and heart disease. Physical activity is also seen to reduce stress levels and lift mood.

In order to stay at our healthiest, recommendations are for:

• Adults to be active for at least 150 minutes each week; with at least 10 minutes each day participating in activity that gets your heart beating faster, and your lungs working a bit harder.

• Children aged five to 16 to be active for at least 60 minutes each day.

• Children under five to get three hours of activity every day.

All activity counts and you can build it into your day by, for example, taking the stairs, getting active whilst doing housework or going for a walk. It is a good idea to participate in activities you enjoy with friends, family or as part of a group, as this can help to keep you motivated. You can search Change4Life for tips on family activities, and children can take a quick 3 question quiz to find inspiration for activities that may suit them.

Whilst the weather is hot, it is important to stay mindful of good hydration before/ during/ after physical activity. Water makes up two thirds of our body and is vital to ensuring healthy body functions. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day and after bursts of exertion will help to prevent headaches, constipation, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and other health problems. 

If you are outdoors in direct sunlight, you will also need to use sufficient sun cream to cover exposed body parts; reapplying after swimming if applicable. Most of us do not apply enough sunscreen, and as a guide you should use two teaspoons to cover your head, arms and neck (use two tablespoons to cover the entire body).

Walk, run, skip, cycle, swim, kick a ball, fly a kite… find any activity that will keep you moving this summer!

Read more: HealthyGibraltar.org/Physical-Activity

Are we Mentally Healthy?

in Health & Beauty

Stigma associated with mental health has been an issue faced worldwide. This has stopped people from promptly seeking help when they need it or taking steps to address the on-going causes for their own poor health. 

The importance of mental well-being and mental resilience cannot be overstated.

Good mental health assures our ability to fulfil key functions and activities in life; it affects how we think, feel, communicate, make decisions, form relationships and act. Knowing the importance of mental health and wellbeing, the question remains – Are we doing enough to keep healthy?

According to the Gibraltar Health and Lifestyle Survey (2021) the most common chronic condition experienced locally is anxiety (32.5% of respondents), and more than 10% of us report feelings of depression. Although participant feedback last year was very likely to have been influenced by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, health experts warn that the increased levels of stress, anxiety and fear witnessed may persist for a while to come. 

According to the Mental Health Foundation, mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide. They state that depression is the second leading cause of disability and a major contributor to increased risk of suicide and ischemic heart disease.

Early warning signs of potential mental health problems:

• Inability to perform usual daily tasks

• Eating or sleeping too much or too little

• Using drugs, smoking or drinking more than usual

• Experiencing mood swings

How can we stay mentally healthy?

There are many ways to improve and maintain our own mental health, and build upon our mental resilience. Some people will feel improvements with minimal support or changes; others may benefit from more specific treatments (such as counselling or medication). It may not be easy to seek support, especially if feeling anxious or low in self-esteem, but a good point of contact is always your GP who can provide support and advice (Tel: 200 52441).

The following are 10 methods of self-care, how many do you use?

1.
Sharing your feelings – this can help us work through concerns, help us feel supported, and help build stronger relationships with those around us.

2.
Keeping active – Adults should be active for around 30 minutes a day at least 5 times a week, and this does not have to include a trip to the gym. All forms of activity count.

3.
Eating well – Foods we eat can affect how we feel both immediately and in the longer term. Regular healthy meals full of wholegrains and vegetables, plus plenty of water, are ideal. Reducing your intake of caffeine and refined sugar; and try to plan meals in advance, particularly if you know you may be stressed, 

4.
Drinking sensibly – We often drink alcohol to change our mood, however more often than not it will exacerbate it. Remember, the ability to escape feelings of fear or loneliness is only temporary. 

5.
Staying connected – Relationships are key to our mental health. Try to ensure you maintain your friendships and family relationships, a work–life balance is important. Some studies suggest loneliness may be as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

6.
Taking a break
– A change of scene or pace is important for your mental health. Give yourself some ‘me time’. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that involves paying deliberate attention to what is happening, as it happens. Mindfulness practices can help us to increase our ability to regulate emotions, decrease stress, focus our attention, and observe our feelings without judgment. Mindfulness app such as Headspace or Calm may be useful.

7.
Doing something you are good at
– What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What have you enjoyed doing in the past? Doing something you enjoy can help beat stress and boost self-esteem. 

8.
Accepting yourself
– Self-acceptance and self-care can be very hard when you have a mental health problem – a challenge we must continue to work on. This involves excepting our flaws, our failures, our beauty, our brilliance; and our differences. You may practice gratitude, noting daily things you are thankful for, or trying to reframe negative thoughts.

9.
Caring for others – This may sound like a contradiction when trying to care for yourself, but the act of caring for another can be hugely significant for mental health. Helping can make us feel needed and valued; it can boost our self-esteem and help to put our own problems into perspective. 

10.
Asking for help
– We ALL will find ourselves (at some point in our lives) feeling tired, nervous or overwhelmed. Knowing when to ask for help, in whatever form may be beneficial to you, is important.

Some helpful contacts:

  • Mental Health Crisis – Call 111
  • Mental Health Support –  Email: MHS@gha.gi 
  • GibSams – free to call service available 6pm to midnight daily; if you want to talk to someone in confidence. Call: 116 123
  • Clubhouse Gibraltar –Email: support@clubhousegibraltar.com or see their website: clubhousegibraltar.com
  • Childline – free to call service available from 5pm – 9pm daily, Call: 8008

World Asthma day

in Health & Beauty

World Asthma Day (WAD) is an annual awareness event supported by Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), US based National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLB) and the World Asthma Foundation. The day is commemorated on the first Tuesday in May each year and aims to raise support for sufferers and their families. 

Asthma is a chronic lung disease, which causes breathing difficulties due to swelling and inflammation of the bronchial tubes. This inflammation is often in reaction to a specific trigger(s) e.g. allergens or exercise. Asthma is not usually curable but can be controlled to a certain extent by prevention medication for chronic symptoms and relief medication for flare-ups. Asthma attacks can be physically and emotionally distressing, but symptoms vary in intensity and frequency from person to person; the most common signs include breathlessness, coughing and chest pains.

Main Causes of Asthma 

According to the WHO: “The strongest risk factors for developing asthma are a combination of genetic predisposition with environmental exposure to inhaled substances and particles that may provoke allergic reactions or irritate the airways.” 

Different people will have different triggers, but the most common causes of asthma attacks are:


exposure to allergens (for example, dust particles, pets, pollen and mould) 

• tobacco smoke and air pollution

• vigorous exercise

• viral infections like the common cold or flu


extreme emotional states (for example, anger, fear, distress).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates around 235 million people are effected by asthma globally. The 2022 theme for this year’s WAD is ‘Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions’. These include:

• asthma is infectious

• everyone grows out of their childhood asthma

• asthma is only controllable with high dose steroids

• people with asthma shouldn’t exercise

Coping with Asthma

There is no cure for asthma. Some people will notice an alleviation of symptoms with age, but not all. Education and understanding are key to effective asthma control, which can be fatal if not managed properly. People who suffer from asthma are able to live full and happy lives by following certain steps such as:

Seeking the advice of a medical professional, following the treatment plan prescribed and reviewing medication regularly.  

Being prepared – always carry a reliever inhaler and an identity card that tells people what to do in the event of an emergency.

Keeping fit – exercise raises your heart rate, boosts the strength of your lungs/immune system, improves your mood and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

Avoiding asthma triggers – learn to recognise and manage what triggers personal asthma attacks. 

Quitting smoking if you are a smoker – in the case of children, if possible, limit the amount of time spent in highly polluted areas. 

World Oral Health Day – 20th March

in Health & Beauty

Good oral hygiene is linked to general well-being.  It helps prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, studies link oral health- particularly periodontal (gum) disease- to the increased risk of various chronic conditions; including diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

How can I improve my oral health?
Brush for two minutes, twice a day, using a fluoride toothpaste. You may also choose to rinse with a fluoride mouthwash or chew sugar-free gum after meals and snacks. Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles are frayed.


Floss or use an interdental brush every day to remove food, debris and plaque lodged between your teeth. It is advisable to use interdental brushes in addition to brushing as part of your daily oral routine from the age of 12. Flossing is a great alternative for those who do not have large enough spaces in between their teeth.


Cut down on sugar, and drink water between meals. This is key to preventing tooth decay. Sugars occur naturally in foods such as fruit. It is important to keep this in mind when deciding how we consume these foods. For example, when fruit is juiced, sugars are released which causes damage to teeth. This means it is best to limit the consumption of fruit juices and smoothies or consume at mealtimes.


Do not smoke, and be sure to limit alcohol. Research estimates that heavy drinkers and smokers have a 38 times increased risk of developing mouth cancer, compared to those who do not drink or smoke.


Brush baby teeth as soon as they come through (usually around 6 months). Parents or carers should supervise tooth brushing ensuring all exposed teeth are cleaned. It is also important to ensure children get into a good teeth-cleaning routine. 


Straighten crooked teeth with braces. Straightening teeth helps facilitate the ease of caring for teeth and gums. It can also improve biting to make eating more comfortable. Orthodontic treatment is available through GHA for young people at no cost, following referrals via the dentistry team.


Have regular check-ups and don’t delay treatments.
Most oral health conditions are largely preventable and can be resolved quickly in their early stages. The sooner you seek treatment, the better your outcomes are likely to be.

The on-going pandemic and related restrictions have meant that many of us push dental check-ups to the back of our priority lists. However, maintaining good oral hygiene and regular check-ups are key to our general well-being. If you are due a dental check-up, this World Oral Health Day is a great reason to book your appointment!  

World Cancer day

in Features

World Cancer Day, marked on 4th February each year, aims to raise awareness of cancer. It highlights the importance of prevention, detection and treatment. 

Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and remains one of the consistent top three causes of death In Gibraltar. Although significant advancements have been made in the detection and treatment of cancer, the burden of this disease continues to be felt by individuals, families and healthcare systems. 

Screening is a vital and often under-utilised service in the prevention and early detection of cancer. Screening can detect disease in people who show no signs or symptoms; and it is often in these cases that best health outcomes are achieved. 

There are several Cancer Screening services offered by the Gibraltar Health Authority. 

Breast Screening 

Breast screening invitations are given to women aged 40-70, at two yearly intervals. Attending your regular mammogram is important as changes can be detected, even if you have no visible lumps or symptoms. Whether you are in the regular screening programme or not, if you notice any changes to your breasts at any time, it is important to seek advice from your Consultant, GP or Specialist Nurse.

Cervical Screening 

Cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. This is not a test for cancer; it is a test to help prevent cancer. Many people put off attending their screening appointment because they are embarrassed or anxious. If you have any questions, speak to your healthcare provider who will be more than happy to discuss any concerns. For more information about cervical screening, visit: www.jostrust.org.uk. 

The cervical screening programme in Gibraltar is open to all women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 years of age. All those eligible should receive a letter to attend once they turn 25 years old. 

If you are aged 25-50 and have not had a smear test in the last three years, or if you aged 51-64 and have not had a smear in the last five years, please call +350 56004698 to make an appointment. 

Bowel Screening 

A bowel screening test kit is sent to all individuals aged 60-74 with an invitation to take part in the programme. Individuals aged over 75 years that wish to participate may contact the screening office on 20007025. Anyone below 60 years who feels they are at higher risk of developing bowel cancer may visit their GP and get referred to the program earlier.

Those who participate in the programme return their completed kits to the hospital laboratory for analysis. 

Colon cancer is common in Gibraltar; and the third leading cause of cancer deaths. Yet, engagement with the Bowel Screening Programme remains low, at around 40%. Participating in Bowel Screening is important as this programme can:

• Detect polyps in the large intestine. Over time, polyps can develop into cancer. Early removal of polyps prevents cancer from developing. 

• Result in the early detection of Bowel Cancer. This results in a 90% chance of being cured after treatment. 

If you have been affected by cancer and require support, you can reach out to the local charity Cancer Relief Gibraltar. 

Tel: 20042392 www.cancerrelief.gi 

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