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Winter wellbeing

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Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) have joined forces with Public Health England (PHE) and Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership this winter to help communities stay well and warm through the cold months ahead.

The Help Us Help You, Stay Well This Winter campaign will see fire and rescue staff across the region offering advice to residents on how to stay warm and healthy during Safe and Well visits. Staff will also be delivering winter warmth bags to the Greater Manchester’s most vulnerable elderly residents.

The campaign aims to help ease pressure on the region’s hospitals and GP surgeries. Years of prevention work across Greater Manchester has taught us how closely linked fire risk and poor health are. It is important that you keep yourself well to stay safe.

Fire and rescue staff across Greater Manchester will be on hand to offer advice to our most vulnerable residents this winter, but there are some simple steps you can take to stay safe and well:

  • Visit your local pharmacist as soon as you start to feel unwell.
  • Keep warm and heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F).
  • Make sure you get your flu jab.
  • Unless it’s a 999 emergency, you can get urgent medical advice at 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111. 
  • Take advantage of financial schemes and discounts to help you pay for heating.
  • More GP appointments are now available out of hours in Greater Manchester.
  • Look out for other people who may need a bit of extra help over the winter.

Further details regarding the Help Us Help You, Stay Well This Winter campaign can be found at www.nhs.uk/staywell.

To book a FREE Safe and Well Visit please visit the GMFRS website or call 0800 555 815. 

 

Christmas and mental health

(Information from Mental Health Foundation)

Christmas can be a challenging time for our stress levels and it's even harder for those of us with mental ill-health.

So many things that are part of our routines and we take for granted become disrupted by the change of pace in our lives.

Leaving all your preparations for Christmas until the last minute can cause unnecessary stress, but planning ahead can save you time and money. Making lists for jobs to do, presents to buy and groceries you'll need helps to organise your thoughts, prevents you forgetting something (or someone) and makes it easier to stick to a budget.

Shopping online can save you even more money, as well as avoiding the stress and crowds of the Christmas shopping season. Give as you Live provides a price comparison search and donates money to charity when you shop at no extra cost to you, so you can save money on your Christmas shopping and support a good cause at the same time! Some online stores will even deliver as late as Christmas Eve and many offer Click and Collect services. If the expense of Christmas is causing you anxiety, you may find this advice from Money Saving Expert useful.

Alcohol

The celebratory spirit of Christmas and New Year often involves social drinking and although the consumption of alcohol might make you feel more relaxed, it is important to remember that alcohol is a depressant and drinking excessive amounts can cause low mood, irritability or potentially aggressive behaviour.

By not exceeding the recommended number of safe units, you will be better able to sustain good mental and physical wellbeing.

Food

The festive period has become synonymous with over-indulgence, which in turn prompts a pressing desire for many of us to lose weight in the New Year. Where possible, maintain a good balance of fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates, protein and omega 3 sources throughout the year in order to be in good physical condition and have sufficient energy.

Maintaining a healthy diet and weight can improve your mood and can work towards preventing symptoms of lethargy and irritability that many of us feel during the busy festive season and dark winter months.

Exercise

Physical activity releases the feel-good chemicals, endorphins, which help you to relax, feel happy and boost your mood. By undertaking simple tasks such as cycling to work, walking in the park, or joining in with Christmas games, you can benefit from experiencing reduced anxiety, decreased depression and improved self-esteem.

In addition, recent research has indicated that regular exercise can help to boost our immune systems, enabling us to better fight off colds and flu viruses that are prolific in winter months.

Five ways to stay active over the Christmas period

1. Go ice-skating! At this time of year there are a number of outdoor ice-rinks around various locations to enjoy.

2. Go for a winter walk! It is a less strenuous form of exercise than going for a hard-core session in the gym.

3. Prefer to be indoors? Why not dance to some festive tunes. A fun way to burn off the Christmas turkey!

4. Take advantage of the Christmas weather. If it snows perhaps build a snowman or have a snowball fight.

5. Do activities as a family. Over indulgence is hard to avoid around Christmas so why not decide to go for a winter walk with all the family after dinner.

Get involved

The festive period provides us with an ideal opportunity to talk to, visit or engage with the people around us. Face-to-face communication has been shown to improve our mental and physical wellbeing as this interaction produces the hormone, oxytocin, which can benefit our immune system, heart health and cognitive function.

You could arrange a shared experience as a gift for a friend or loved one such as a cookery lesson or cinema outing.

If you're travelling to visit family or friends for Christmas, booking travel in advance can often be much cheaper.

If you are apart from your family then volunteering for a charity or local community organisation can provide that same human contact, as well as help provide essential support and encouragement for others in need. These interactions can easily be sustained throughout the coming year and need not just be for Christmas.

Stay in touch

There's nothing better than catching up with someone face-to-face, but that's not always possible. Give them a call, drop them a note or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open - it's good for you!

If you're feeling out of touch with some people, Christmas can be a good opportunity to reconnect with a card, email or phone call. Talking can be a good way to cope with a problem you've been carrying around in your head.

If something is worrying you, whether it's work, family problems or other feelings, just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. It works both ways: if you open up, it might encourage others to do the same and get something off their mind.

Try to relax

Christmas can be a very busy and stressful time as we prepare to entertain family and friends, worry about cooking a delicious Christmas dinner, and fit in some last minute present shopping. These feelings of being under pressure can produce symptoms of anxiety, anger and difficulty sleeping which, if prolonged, could have a long-term detrimental impact on your mental health and wellbeing.

By exercising more regularly or practicing mindfulness – a combination of meditation, yoga and breathing techniques – you can help to both alleviate the symptoms of your stress and gain more control when coping with difficult situations. Christmas presents aside, implementing a new exercise regime or signing up for a course in mindfulness - such as online course in mindfulness-based stress reduction - could be your best investment for a more relaxed Christmas and New Year.

Do good

Helping others is good for your own mental health and wellbeing. It can help reduce stress, improve your mood, increase self-esteem and happiness and even benefit your physical health.

Christmas is a good opportunity to volunteer for a charity or local community organisation and provide essential support and encouragement for others in need.

Sleep

Despite many of us having time off work during Christmas and the New Year, our sleep patterns can be disturbed between catching up with friends and family and partying late in to the night. There is mounting evidence on the link between sleep and mental wellbeing, meaning improvements in the quality of your sleep could result in improvements to your overall mental health.

There are several steps you can take towards achieving a better night’s sleep: attempting to get back into your regular sleep routine as soon as possible after the party period, consuming less alcohol during the festivities, implementing regular exercise into your weekly routine, and taking measures to alleviate your stress. You can find lots more useful advice in this Sleep Better pocket guide.

 

Mental health and suicide prevention

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Suicide/Pages/Prevention.aspx

https://www.papyrus-uk.org/

https://www.mind.org.uk/

 

Managing your debt

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/help-with-debt/

 

Need further advice and support?

If you are concerned about your own mental health or that of someone you care for make an appointment to see the GP.

The following organisations are also available for advice and support

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) - 0121 248 2000 / www.rospa.com

The Samaritans – 116 123 / www.samaritans.org

Mind, for better mental health - 0300 123 3393 / www.mind.org.uk

Alzheimer's Society - 0845 300 0336 / www.alzheimers.org.uk

Age UK - 0800 169 6565 / www.ageuk.org.uk

NHS 111111.nhs.uk

Princess Royal Trust for Carers - 0808 808 7777 / www.carers.org

 

Social isolation

The video below highlights how loneliness effects people. 

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