Taking care of ourselves this winter

Pam Parry is BLF’s Respiratory Nurse Specialist Co-Lead and talks to us about why we should all be taking care of ourselves this winter, especially if you have a lung condition.

This year’s not been like any other. You’ve probably seen less of family and friends and may have stayed indoors more, even in the summer. If you’ve been shielding at any point this year, you might have had a very different year to usual.  

As we head into winter and on to a new year, I want to stress how important it is to take care of yourself. Your mental wellbeing is extremely important and you might feel like yours had taken a bit of a knock because of the pandemic. If you feel like you’re struggling, we have some health advice on mental health, depression and anxiety, which you might find useful.

Try as best you can to stay in touch with friends and family - give your loved ones a call or send them a text. You could even speak to them online or write them a Christmas card. It’s worth reaching out, as this year has been a difficult time for everyone and it’s important we stay connected.

COVID-19 and Christmas

COVID-19 has meant we’re having to think differently about how we spend our Christmas this year. We’ve got a 5-day Christmas bubble window where restrictions are being lifted across the whole of the UK, but this doesn’t mean everyone will be travelling to spend Christmas with people outside their household.

It’s your choice whether you become part of a Christmas bubble and you shouldn’t feel pressured either way. It’s reasonable to ask questions about arrangements and to say no if you don’t feel comfortable – we’ve put together a few questions you might want to ask and other things to consider. 

Eat well and keep moving

At this time of year, it’s important to keep ourselves moving – in the home is just as good as outside. We have videos and explanations of exercises you can do indoors or outdoors, as well as tips on setting yourself goals.

As it gets colder, it’s also important to keep yourself warm by heating your home to at least 18c and drinking plenty of hot drinks. Keeping to a well-balanced diet is also important if you have a lung condition, as it can help your symptoms and give you more energy.  

Managing your condition is essential too – keep taking your medication as prescribed, know what to do if you have a flare-up or an exacerbation, and keep your regular appointments. If your GP surgery can’t offer you a face-to-face appointment, or you’re worried about going to your doctor, they may offer you a video appointment.

You might not have had one before, but they’re a great way to keep up your care over winter. Dr Andy Whittamore has tips on how to make the most of your phone or video appointment, which you may find helpful.

And remember, if you feel like your symptoms are getting worse or you’re experiencing new symptoms, call 111. If you’re having a medical emergency, you need to call 999 straight away – don’t wait.

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As a charity, British Lung Foundation provides free health advice to millions of people through our website and our specialist helpline - a team dedicated to offering life-changing advice over the phone.

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16 December 2020