Make your wellbeing a priority this winter.
It’s well known that the winter months bring added pressure for those working in healthcare. As a result, it can be very easy to put your wellbeing on the back burner. As Healthcare Professionals, you spend so much of your time looking after others and putting their health and wellbeing before your own. However, as the saying goes, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ and it’s important to remember to look after yourself, to allow you to provide your patients with the best possible care.
The months of November, December, January, and February are typically cold, rainy, and dark and for most of us, this creates the perfect excuse for staying indoors, getting cozy with our favourite comfort food, and binge-watching Netflix documentaries. However, whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this, we still must ensure we’re staying fit and healthy for the sake of our physical and mental wellbeing.
It’s well documented that winter is the busiest time for the NHS meaning you may well be working more than usual. If this is the case, we wanted to provide you with some useful and simple hints and tips on how you can protect your health and wellbeing throughout the winter pressures.
Start your day off right
From choosing the right breakfast to finding a sleep schedule that works for you, there are lots of small, easy, low-cost changes you can make to feel more energised when starting your day.
- Get sipping! Starting your day off with a glass of water can help you to rehydrate after a long sleep
- Feel groggy when you wake up? Learning your chronotype – your body’s built-in preference for when it wants to sleep, and wake may help you build a routine that works better for you. This can help you feel more ready to start your day. Find your chronotype on chronoquiz.com
- The NHS recommends starting the day with a meal high in fibre but low in fat, sugar, and salt to help set you up for the day. This may make you less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks
- For a fibre-rich start to your day, try eating oats. Cook porridge in the microwave for a cheap breakfast in minutes. Why not give these banana overnight oats a try?
Quick tips to help you wake up the right way
- Splash your face with cold water
- Avoid hitting snooze
- Move your body – give this YouTube step workout a try, it’s so simple and fun too!
- Power down before bed. Make a conscious effort to swap scrolling through TikTok for reading a chapter of a book or giving cross stitch a go
- Do your best to find a routine that works for you and stick to it
Get your flu vaccine
Frontline healthcare workers are more likely to be exposed to the influenza virus, particularly during winter months when some of their patients will be infected. It has been estimated that up to one in four healthcare workers may become infected with influenza during a mild influenza season – a much higher incidence than expected in the general population.
You can have your NHS flu vaccine at:
- Your GP surgery
- A pharmacy offering the service – if you’re aged 18 or over
- Some maternity services if you’re pregnant
Do your best to keep yourself & your home warm
We’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis meaning that blasting the central heating every day may not be an option for many. Here are some tips to keep you and your family warm and well at home:
- Use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to keep warm in bed – but do not use both at the same time
- Move your sofa. It might feel great to have your favourite seat in front of the radiator, but it’s absorbing heat that could be warming your home. By moving it away from the radiator, hot air can circulate freely
- Have at least 1 hot meal a day – eating regularly helps keep you warm
- Have hot drinks regularly
- Draw curtains at dusk and keep doors closed to block out draughts
- Get your heating system checked regularly by a qualified professional
Help with heating costs
Prepare your vehicle
Get your vehicle ready for the cold, frosty weather
- Service the radiator and maintain the antifreeze level
- Check your tires’ tread or, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires
- Keep your tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines
- Top up your screen wash
- Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your car in case you break down. Check out this ready-made kit on Amazon.
Make time for friends & family
Good friends and family are good for your health. They can help you celebrate the good times, provide support during bad times and prevent isolation and loneliness.
Spending time with loved ones can:
- Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
- Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
- Help you cope with traumas
- Make you laugh (laughter is the best medicine after all)
Give the Calm app a try
Meditation isn’t for everyone, but many people have found it to be extremely beneficial for improving their wellbeing. The Calm app has been designed to help people improve sleep quality, reduce stress or anxiety, improve focus and improve self-improvement. Why not give it a go, you’ve got nothing to lose, and it could make a real positive difference in your life.
Putting yourself first is OK!
There is a stigma surrounding putting your needs before those of others. This is heightened for healthcare professionals as they have dedicated their careers to caring for others. However, to give the best version of yourself to your friends, family, and patients, you may need to be selfish and put yourself first once in a while and this is absolutely OK!
We hope you’ve found these tips useful and that you’ll use this as a reminder to look after yourself this winter.