Staying well over winter has taken on greater significance due to the pandemic, so in Self-Care Week (16-22 November), we’re sharing tips and advice on looking after your physical and mental health in lockdown and beyond.

District Nurse Team Leader Sarah Horsfall said: “Winter is always a busy time for the NHS and with COVID-19 this year we’ll be busier than ever. You really will Help Us to Help You if you take good care of yourself and your family.

“Simple things like wrapping up warm when you go out and keeping the house warm can help to stave off minor illnesses and eating well and keeping active are just as important for your mental health as your physical wellbeing during cold weather and long winter nights.”

Our website has a whole range of helpful self-care information on the Stay Well pages, from mood boosting tips and mental wellbeing advice, to information about flu and keeping little ones well.

Our Family Heath Services website ‘Better lives, healthy futures’ supports parents and carers of children to age 11, with practical advice on what to do and how to get help if your child is unwell, as well as helpful, reliable NHS advice on topics like coping with a crying baby, feeding, development, safety, bullying and puberty.

For older people who may be indoors more than usual this winter, the Falls Prevention team has put together an easy home-based strength and balance exercise programme. Falls are one of the biggest causes of accidents in the home and one of the main reasons for emergency hospital admission for the over ‘65s. One in 20 older people who fall fracture a bone, yet many falls can be prevented.

Physical Activity Co-ordinator Stephen Pugh from the Falls Prevention team explains: “Keeping moving is one of the best ways to prevent a fall. Our video-based exercise programme helps to mobilise all your joints and includes specific exercises for strength and balance. The videos are easy to follow and just a few minutes exercise a day can support you to stay you steady on your feet. We’ve got lots of other tips for preventing falls alongside the exercise programme too.”

It’s particularly important for older people, those with long-term conditions, people who care for vulnerable loved ones at home and young children to have their flu vaccine this year. Flu is much more serious than a cold and kills thousands every year. Children can have the same symptoms as adults and easily pass it on, even if they don’t show symptoms.

Sarah Horsfall says: ““Flu can be horrible, causing symptoms like fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and sore throat.  And for children or adults with diabetes or asthma, it can potentially bring serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Check with your GP if you’re eligible for the free vaccine and please return your child’s consent form to school so they can be vaccinated.”

Minor illnesses like colds, sore throats, diarrhoea or vomiting which are common in the winter months should clear up within a few days to a week and can be treated at home with over-the-counter medicines. It’s helpful to stock up now with your usual choice of pain management products, rehydration salts, bandages, plasters, thermometer, antiseptic cream/wipes etc.

The over ‘65s as well as people with long-term conditions are advised to be especially alert to the first signs of illness and treat it early. Your local pharmacist can provide expert, confidential advice and treatment for minor illnesses. NHS 111 can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. Only call 999 if you have a life-threatening emergency.

MyWellbeing CollegeFor support with your mental wellbeing, our MyWellbeing College offers one-to-one phone or video consultations, as well as a range of guided self-help workbooks and online webinar-based courses. By understanding why you think the way you do and learning coping strategies you can soon be more in control of your mood and/or anxiety now and in the future.

To register for one of the MyWellbeing College courses, guided self-help or one-to-one talking therapies, simply enrol at the MyWellbeing College website or call 0300 555 5551 (press option 3).

If however, you’re experiencing a mental health crisis call the First Response service, which continues to be available to everyone in Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale or Craven on 01274 221181, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“We want to assure everyone we are #StillHereToHelp throughout the winter if you need us, though you may notice some of our services doing things a bit differently, like using phone or video, although we continue to have face-to-face appointments and contacts wherever needed,” says Sarah Horsfall. “We will always prioritise patients who require immediate or urgent attention, but we will continue to provide the best possible care during this time.”