Looking after yourself this winter
Winter has arrived, along with shorter days and colder temperatures. During this time of year, we often see an increase in common illnesses that tend to peak during this season as well as many people feeling lonelier and more isolated.
That's why we've introduced our winter wellbeing page, to help you look after yourself this winter so you can enjoy activities with your friends and family or meet someone new in one of our welcoming spaces.
On this page you'll discover tips on maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough rest to practicing good hand hygiene, preventing illnesses, minimising the risk of falls and how you can keep yourself mentally well this time of year too.
Take your time reading through the information below - it may come in handy to either you or a loved one.
Looking after your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health and there are some really small steps you can take to help you feel happier.
Try some of the steps below and see how they make a difference for you:
- Giving: Do kind things for others
- Relating: Our welcoming spaces are a great opportunity to connect with people - have a look on our map to see the closest one to you
- Exercising: Take care of your body
- Awareness: Live life mindfully
- Trying Out: Keep learning new things
- Direction: Have goals to look forward to
- Resilience: Find ways to bounce back
- Emotions: Look for what’s good
- Acceptance: Be comfortable with who you are
- Meaning: Be part of something bigger
For more information visit Action for Happiness.
If you are feeling low in mood and need to speak to someone to get support for your mental health, there are a wide range of support services on hand to help you.
The Mental Health Number is free to call on 0800 448 0828 any day or any night. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a trained mental health navigator ready to speak to you.
If you are in a crisis and would rather speak to someone in person, you can drop into one of the NHFT Crisis Cafes located all round Northamptonshire with trained professionals able to listen and support you. For locations and times visit the NHFT Crisis Cafe website.
NHFT Talking Therapies can help individuals to identify, understand and manage their problems or difficulties. The talking therapies support options include face-to-face therapies, telephone and video calls, webinars and our online tools, which you can use wherever and whenever works best for you.
If you are feeling unwell or are worried about someone, the NHFT Urgent Help webpage has advice and contact details designed to help you decide what to do now.
Emotional wellbeing and mental health for children and young people up to the age of 18 - if you are a child or young person and are experiencing difficulties with your emotional wellbeing and mental health difficulties, or know someone who is, find out about children and young people's mental health services in Northamptonshire.
These are our top tips that you can do at home, to keep yourself well this winter.
- Stay hydrated - drinking little and often can help to keep you hydrated throughout the day. Water is the best option, but milk, tea, coffee, fresh juice, smoothies and sugar-free drinks all count too
- Eat well - eating a wide variety of foods means you are more likely to have all the essential nutrients your body needs to function at its best. Check out our advice on how to make food go further!
- Get moving every day - just 30 minutes a day is great for your mind and body! Whether a walk outside, strength exercises or a ‘get up and go class’. There are lots of options to keep you active every day. Have a look at Northamptonshire Sport to see the activities available.
- Enjoy nature – being outside in the fresh air and around nature is proven to have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing – just remember to wrap up warm!
- Keep your medicines stocked up! – visit your local pharmacy or supermarket to buy remedies for minor illnesses, often at little cost
- Be kind and look out for each other – it may be you have an elderly neighbour or relative that is on their own or know of someone in your neighbourhood that is struggling whether it be financially, mentally or in simple everyday tasks like getting to the supermarket. A simple call or check-in can make all the difference
- Wash your hands and catch your sneezes - it sounds simple, but it really does make a big difference! Washing your hands several times a day for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water can help prevent you from getting sick and spreading bugs further. Catch your sneeze! – catch it in a tissue, bin it and kill the germs
- Stay connected - Social relationships are an important part of supporting our wellbeing. Spend time each day developing and nurturing relationships with friends, families, neighbours and colleagues. Try to make a connection each day. Age UK Northamptonshire have a Telephone Befriending Service available or pop along to one of our welcoming spaces near you to meet someone new over a cuppa!
- Keep warm - cold weather can have a serious impact on health, and it is important to keep warm. If you can, try and have a room temperature of 18°C, particularly if you have reduced mobility, are 65 and over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease. Ensure windows are closed during cold nights, have your heating system checked to make sure they are safe to use and working and finally wear lots of layers of thin clothes.
- Safely enjoying festivities - keeping bugs at bay this festive period is important and there are a few things you can do to help achieve this! Keep balanced ventilation within your home, be careful when storing and handling food to prevent contamination and remember good hygiene when greeting others.
For many of us, the colder weather can put us off wanting to be active as we are used to being outdoors for nice walks, tennis or friendly football games for example.
We know that by being active and moving for at least 30 minutes a day can make a huge difference to how you are feeling so it is really important to still get your movement in, in whatever way you prefer!
Have a look at our sports and leisure pages which have information on different groups you can get involved with or leisure centres near you.
Maybe visit one of our country parks that you haven’t been to yet? Find a full list of our country parks and open spaces.
If you are looking to be more steady on your feet, you can sign up to a ‘Get up and Go’ class to learn balance exercises.
Many residents are feeling the strain on their finances because of the cost of living crisis with worry as we head into the winter months. There is support available to you, so please do not feel like you can’t take it. Have a look at our Cost of Living Support Hub for the various support that you may be able to access.
If you are looking at ways you can save money then have a look at our tips below.
Being energy efficient
- Remember to only heat the rooms you use - by turning individual radiators off in the rooms you aren’t using
- Draught proof your doors and windows - a lot of heat can be lost from your home through windows and doors. You can pick up some draught strips for a low price from many stores and it will make a difference to your heating
- Keeping windows closed - although it’s important to open windows for fresh air, make sure they aren’t left open all day cooling your house down (double check that all windows are shut so heat doesn’t escape)
- Keeping heating set to 18°C - Keeping your heating set to a constant temperature will mean your central heating will work to keep it at that temperature constantly
Shop and cook smarter
- Weekly meal planning - Planning meals ahead and checking the cupboards before you go shopping means you know what you need to buy and can reduce waste
- Having leftovers - Cooked a big meal? If there’s enough to plate up another portion keep it for the next day rather than throwing it away
- Check use by dates - Check use by dates so you can use food before it goes off, reducing food waste
There are so many things to do across West Northamptonshire, many of them free or low-cost. To find out what’s happening near you use the Explore West Northants app.
You can help to keep common bugs at bay this winter by following these simple steps:
- Wash your hands - it sounds simple, but it really does make a big difference! Washing your hands several times a day for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water can help prevent you from getting sick and spreading bugs further
- Catch your sneeze! - catch it in a tissue, bin it and kill the germs
- If you feel unwell - try to stay at home and avoid contact with others
- Don’t miss out on important vaccination invitations - viruses spread more in the winter and vaccines can really help with staying protected, so find out more about vaccinations and immunisation
For information on common winter illnesses see:
Having your vaccinations is a step not to be missed to help protect yourself and those around you, especially during these colder months when people mix more indoors, meaning bugs are spread a lot more easily.
Free flu vaccinations - for pregnant women
The immune system naturally weakens during pregnancy, putting pregnant women at a higher risk of more severe flu symptoms and further complications such as pneumonia. It is vitally important that pregnant women get vaccinated. If you have not yet had your flu vaccine and are pregnant, please contact your midwife or GP.
Free flu vaccinations - for children aged 2 or 3
We are urging all parents and guardians of children aged 2 or 3 to get them vaccinated against the flu via a quick flu nasal spray vaccination!
This vaccination can stop them from catching the virus as small children are highly susceptible. If you have not received an invitation for your child to receive the flu vaccine, speak to your GP practice to book an appointment.
Flu vaccine eligibility
Those who are not eligible for a free vaccine can still get a jab from local pharmacies at a reasonable cost.