Some tips from Independent Living Officer Lucy Morrice on staying healthy this winter
Spring is just around the corner but the cold, wet and dark days are still here. It is tempting to fill up on comfort food and stay on the sofa, but there are lots of small things we can do to maintain our physical and mental wellbeing.
What you eat has a huge influence on your health. You don’t need to suddenly cut out all your favourite foods; making some healthy swaps really does make a difference. Many of us rely on the same meals week to week, so bring in some variety to ensure you are getting a broader range of nutrients.
Try to ‘eat the rainbow’ every day. Different colours in fruits and veg reflect the different micronutrients we need. Add tomato and cucumber to your lunch, some blueberries to your breakfast, sweetcorn with your dinner, an orange for a snack, a handful of nuts and you are well on the way. Swap out wholegrain for white bread and limit how much processed foods and soft drinks you have. See if you feel any different!
Getting out in the fresh air and moving where you can helps with strength, flexibility, digestion and sleep, which all affect your mental wellbeing. Not everyone can get out and about to exercise, but there are plenty of exercise videos online. Try YouTube and see what you can find. If you are sitting at home, just keep reminding yourself to move, whether that is seated exercise or running up the stairs! Try box breath: Sit or lie comfortably, let your eyes close. Start to notice your breath, then count as you breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4 and hold for 4. Continue this for a few minutes then allow your breath to return to normal. Notice how you feel. If this is not for you, concentrate on your breathing, slowing down and focusing on your breath, trying to extend the length of your exhalations.
Loneliness and isolation can affect how you feel both mentally and physically, and lockdown made this worse for many people. Stay in touch with friends and family; even just a text can make you feel better. Community organisations can be a lifeline and during the current cost-of-living crisis many are opening their doors as Warm Spaces, providing hot drinks, maybe food and offering somewhere you can meet and connect with others.