The winter months in the UK can be tough; days get shorter, the weather gets colder and cities seem busier than usual with people celebrating the Christmas period. To help you get through the winter we have come up with some common problems and top tips to improve your health and wellbeing.
The lack of sunlight during the day can make you feel tired and sluggish. This is because it can impact your sleep when you are deprived of nutrients that we gain through daylight. Although it is tempting to stay indoors and spend less time outside when it’s so dark and gloomy, do your best to avoid staying indoors all the time!
- Try to get outside at least once a day. Fresh air and sunlight will help your body feel more awake, too much artificial light will make you feel tired. Open blinds and windows during the day to allow sunlight in.
- Sleeping at regular times is important. The dark can easily disturb your sleeping pattern but it’s important to let your body rest. Try to set a schedule for when you sleep and wake up, and aim for 8 hours of sleep every night. Make your bedroom and comfortable and relaxing place by keeping it tidy, and having warm bedding.
Not only are temperatures lower, but it’s more common to see rain, wind and snow. It is especially difficult for students coming from hotter countries, but it is important to take care of yourself and prepare your body for British weather.
- Wrap up warm and make sure you have appropriate clothes. You should make sure you have a good, thick, winter coat, hat, a scarf and gloves for when you go outside. It’s also a good idea to keep a flask or water bottle with you to take a drink with you. You can buy these from local supermarkets if you don’t already have one.
- Check travel routes (especially if you are travelling by bus) so that you can stay ahead of any changes. Sometimes rain and snow can affect buses so that they are slower or cancelled. If you think it is not safe to travel, or there is a warning against travelling, it is better to stay indoors or visit somewhere which is close to where you live.
Winter is the peak season for things like cold and flu. Feeling unwell can make you feel lethargic, change your eating habits, sleeping pattern and mood. If you do start to feel ill, it is important to make sure you get enough rest, and take care of yourself.
- Try to prevent illness by always washing your hands, using tissues to catch germs, and use the antibacterial gels at UKEC Academy to kill any bacteria on your hands.
- Eat healthily and stay hydrated. It can be easy to want comfort food when you are cold or unhappy, but eating too much McDonalds or other fast food will have an affect on your mood. Eating well can keep your energy levels up as well as provide you with the vitamins and nutrients you need to fight off illnesses. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, and make sure you eat lots of fruit and vegetables.
- If you do become ill, do not panic. There are lots of pharmacies around Manchester who will be able to recommend medicine for common illnesses. Visit your local pharmacy, tell them what is making you feel uncomfortable and they will help you find the correct medication. Lots of these are available ‘over the counter’ (you don’t need a prescription from a doctor) and are reasonably priced. When recovering, make sure you get lots of rest and stay warm.
If you are feeling very unwell or your symptoms are not going away, it is always best to speak to a doctor. If you cannot go to see a doctor, you can call the NHS helpline on 111 for advice. In emergencies, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.