Top tips to keep well
On this page you’ll find top tips to help you and your family stay healthy and well this winter.
Click on the links below to jump to the topic you’re interested in:
Stop viruses spreading
Viruses like flu and COVID-19 can spread easily through surface contact. Germs from coughs and sneezes can survive on hands and surfaces for up to 24 hours.
You can also catch an illness by breathing in droplets from an infected person that has coughed or sneezed near you. Wearing a facemask when you are out in public will help to hold in any infected droplets that you breathe out and will reduce how easily the droplets spread.
Following good infection prevention practice will help to reduce your risk of catching and spreading serious illnesses like flu and COVID-19, down to less serious illnesses like the common cold or tummy bugs.
- Wear a facemask when you’re out in public places
- Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds, each time you come in. Wash your hands more frequently and be sure to keep household items clean if you’re living with someone who is ill.
- You can help prevent colds and flu spreading by using tissues to ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’.
- Keep household items clean, including cleaning such items as cups, glasses and towels. Wipe down high contact areas like light switches, door handles, and the handle of the tea kettle especially if someone in your house is ill.
- Hand sanitiser is effective against flu as well as Covid, so it’s important to use hand sanitiser when you are out in public, and at home if you’re living with someone who’s ill.
Keep warm at home and outdoors
The cold and damp weather of winter, ice, snow and high winds can all make any existing health problems worse, and make us more vulnerable to respiratory winter illnesses.
It is important to keep warm in winter – both when you’re inside and outdoors. Keeping warm over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.
Here are some top tips to help you stay warm this winter:
- Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F). You might prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer.
- Keep your bedroom window closed on winter nights.
- Keep active when you’re indoors, and try not to sit still for more than an hour or so. Every time you get up and move around, you get warmer: your blood pumps which improves your circulation and stops your muscles from stiffening up.
- Wear several layers of light clothes. Several layers trap warm air better than one bulky layer.
- Cold weather alerts operate between 1 November and 31 March, you can sign up to receive these from the Met Office, this way you’ll know when it’s likely to be cold so that you can take steps to keep warm and stay inside. Met Office (govdelivery.com)
- If you’re going outside in cold weather, cover your mouth with a scarf and be sure to wear shoes with a good grip. Breathing cold air can be bad for your health as it increases the risk of chest infections.
- Make sure you’re receiving all the help that you’re entitled to - visit our Winter Hardship Support page to find out more. There are grants, benefits and sources of advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills.
- Check your heating and cooking appliances are safe. Contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to make sure they’re operating properly. Visit gassaferegister.co.uk
Make movement a regular part of your day
Regular exercise, and even simply moving more throughout the day, can help improve your mental health, reduce the risk of falling, and it helps to keep up your overall fitness which helps your recovery if you do get ill.
Here are some top ways you can keep yourself moving when you’re indoors this winter:
- Don’t sit down in front of the computer or television for long periods of time without moving. Sitting still for long stretches makes your muscles tighten up and your circulation slow down. That means when you do get up from long stretches of sitting down you’re more vulnerable to having a fall.
- Break up your time spent being inactive by walking around your home or standing up from your chair and doing simple stretches during TV advert breaks or when you’re on the phone.
- Stretch out your arms and legs while you’re making a cuppa, holding onto the bench if you need support. Lifting light weights, such as a tin of beans or the milk carton, can help increase blood flow to your muscles too.
- There are many activities you could do at home, such as walking up and down stairs, dancing, gardening, housework, or taking part in online fitness classes. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it’s something you enjoy and keeps you moving.
- For ideas and videos to keep active at home visit activenorfolk.org/active-at-home
- Search for online fitness classes and face-to-face fitness classes in the Waveney area at https://www.activesuffolk.org/activities
- Find additional activity ideas and videos at www.nhs.uk/keepactive and www.ageuk.org.uk
- Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel comfortable and trust your instincts about your own limits. Stop if you are feeling any pain or lightheaded and make sure you drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.
Stay well-stocked with medicines and food
Check your Medicine Cabinet
You can help prevent a minor illness from developing into something worse by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet.
Many over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and ibuprofen) are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as colds, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection (earache). Speak to your pharmacist about what medicines should be in your cabinet to help get you and your family through the winter season.
Make sure your medicine cabinet has essentials like painkillers and cold and flu remedies to help see you through any closures during the Christmas period or spells of bad weather.
To manage winter illness symptoms at home, you should keep warm, rest, drink plenty of fluids, have at least one hot meal a day to keep your energy levels up and use over-the-counter medications to help give relief. For more information search ‘medicine cabinet’ on www.nhs.uk
Make sure you get your prescription medicines before your pharmacy or GP practice closes for Christmas, or if there is a spell of bad weather forecast and you suspect it won’t be safe to go out.
Ask your pharmacist if they offer a prescriptions and medicines delivery service. If they do, be sure to get your order in before Christmas bank holidays and make sure you have spare medication in case you are unable to go out.
Don’t go to a pharmacy to collect your prescriptions if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or are self-isolating.
You can order your prescriptions by calling your GP or pharmacy, or via prescriptions order line - Prescription Ordering Direct Service (POD). Ask a friend, relative or volunteer to collect medicines for you if the weather is too bad for you to go out safely.
You can also order your repeat prescriptions via the NHS App, as well as make GP appointments. Search for the NHS App on the App Store and on Google Play. For more information visit www.nhs.uk/nhsapp.
If you’ve been prescribed antibiotics or any other medication, make sure you take them as directed.
Food provides warmth and energy
Food is a vital source of energy and it helps to keep your body warm. Have plenty of hot food and drinks throughout the day.
Aim to include 5 daily portions of fruit and vegetables. Tinned and frozen vegetables count toward your 5 a day.
Stock up on tinned and frozen foods so you don’t have to go out too much when it’s cold or icy.
Think about how you will get your shopping if the weather is forecast to be bad. Ask a neighbour, family member or Community Hub to help.
Get your vaccinations
Flu can cause severe illness and even death among vulnerable groups, as well as complications like bronchitis and pneumonia. Protecting those at high risk of flu, who are also those most vulnerable to hospitalisation as a result of COVID-19, is especially important this year.
The vaccine is available free of charge on the NHS, if you:
- Are aged 50 years old and over (including those aged 50 by 31 March 2022)
- Are pregnant
- Live with someone who is immunocompromised
- Have certain health conditions
- Receive a carer’s allowance or are the main carer of an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
The flu nasal spray vaccine is also available for children:
- aged 2 and 3 years old on the 31 August 2021
- from Reception up to Year 11
You don’t need to wait to be invited to have your vaccine. If you are eligible you can make an appointment at your GP surgery or ask any pharmacy that provides the NHS service.
Get your COVID-19 Booster
Following the government announcement (Sunday 12 December), the booster vaccination programme is ramping up across Norfolk and Waveney in line with the national ambition to offer a booster to anyone aged 18+ by the end of December 2021.
Those currently eligible to receive a booster vaccine – three months after their second dose - are:
- those living or working in residential care homes for older adults
- all adults aged 18+ (from Weds 15 December)
- frontline health and social care workers
- all those aged 16-17 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (as set out in the green book), and adult carers of these patients
- adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals
You can book an appointment for a first, second or booster vaccination through the National Booking Service:
- NHS national booking service online at nhs.uk/covid-vaccination
- Telephone 119 (free), between 7am and 11pm seven days a week
Information and guidance about the booster programme is changing quickly. Please visit the Booster COVID-19 Vaccinations - Norfolk and Waveney CCG page for the latest up to date guidance on how to get your booster.