There’s plenty of practical advice on offer to help people stay healthy and in good spirits this winter. Manx residents know how the weather can change quickly in a short space of time, so the message in the run-up to Christmas is wise-up, stock up and be ready for the cold months ahead.
Easy-to-understand advice on staying warm and active, eating well, easing minor illnesses like coughs and colds at home, and beating the winter blues is online on the winter health webpage.
Simple messages aim to give people the confidence to look after themselves and their families by planning ahead and taking simple actions – such as stocking up on remedies for colds, flu and sore throats, ordering repeat prescriptions in plenty of time and knowing what works best. While the advice will help people avoid a trip to the Emergency Department or MEDS, the Manx Emergency Doctor Service, the guide is clear that in some cases, it’s right to call for help.
Topics highlighted on the Winter Health page include vaccinations for flu and pneumococcal infection which usually peak during the winter months. Also included is a section on the importance of protecting against the spread of germs through good hygiene, and a reminder that local pharmacists offer expert advice on medication for minor illnesses – no appointment needed.
Keeping active will help people unable to go out increase their circulation to stay warm - a tip is to move about every hour, perhaps spreading chores through the day. For those who are not very mobile, are aged 65 and over or who have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, the advice from NHS Keep warm keep well is to heat at least one room to the recommended 18C.
Eating well to ensure the body has enough vitamins and nutrients, keeping the store cupboard stocked with basic food items and drinking plenty of fluids are among common-sense reminders to stay healthy and alert.
The webpage includes links to specialist advice so people can find out more about issues and illnesses ranging from Vitamin D supplements and treating sore throats to making the most of any journeys by getting in step with active travel.
Wellbeing is about mental health too. A ten step guide to winter wellbeing speaks directly to members of the public, setting out practical ways to beat those winter blues. The guide follows the current approach of the Mental Health Foundation based on the understanding that winter can be a stressful and demanding time of year – no matter how you spend it.
Eating a healthy diet, drinking sensibly and taking exercise will all help boost mental wellbeing and the page links to numerous online resources offering further information and advice.
On a different level, the guide reaches out to those who don’t enjoy being centre stage during the party season and feel pressured by demands to join in and have fun. ‘Accept who you are’ offers a reassurance some will find welcome: It doesn't matter who you are or how you like to spend the festive period, being comfortable in your own skin and ensuring that you have a good time too is important.
The tips suggest spending a little time with other people, to share news and views and work through problems and concerns, can help lighten the load and improve low mood. Not everyone has a busy life or is surrounded by family and friends over the festive period, and sources of help for those who feel isolated can be found on the UK-based Campaign to End Loneliness website.
The pages also offer a list of useful contacts including the local utility companies, Fire and Rescue Service, the Met Office and Samaritans, alongside winter gritting routes, advice on flooding, energy efficiency, safety in the home and essential first aid. The wealth of information on the winter health webpage which offers an invaluable one-stop shop to help Island residents stay safe, warm, well and content this winter.