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When it’s cold outside - be good to yourself

DID YOU KNOW: Over 17,000 people in North West London could avoid hospital this winter with our NHS self-care advice?
When it’s cold outside - be good to yourself

Over 17,000 people in North West London could avoid hospital this winter with NHS self-care advice. This year’s Self-Care Week, organised by Self-Care Forum, runs from 14-20 November. Self-care is about having the confidence, support and information to take control of your own health and wellbeing. While NHS services are important, remember that there are many illnesses and injuries that can be treated at home with simple self-care. Self-care can also help you avoid getting sick in the first place.

As the weather gets colder, wrap up warm, and check out these ways to keep well in the winter from your local NHS.

Keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet ready in your home

Prepare for common winter issues like headaches, coughs and colds, and indigestion by stocking up in advance. Nobody enjoys a panicked trip at night in the cold to get medicines, bandages, or medical supplies in an urgent situation – especially during bank holidays or busy periods.

Useful items to keep in your first aid kit or medicine cabinet include:

  • Paracetamol and aspirin (for headaches and other pain)
  • Decongestants (for stuffy noses)
  • Antacids (for indigestion and heartburn)
  • Antiseptic creams (for minor cuts or grazes)
  • Bandages and plasters (for minor injuries)
  • Clean tweezers (for taking out splinters)
  • A thermometer (the NHS recommends your home should be least 18 degrees Celsius if anyone in your household is over 65)

Good health means good mental health

When it gets cold and dark outside, a lot of people find it more of a struggle than usual to maintain their mental health and wellbeing. We have some suggestions to help you:

  • Keep active – physical and mental activity has been proven to improve our wellbeing
  • Take regular breaks, especially from activities you find stressful 
  • Keep a journal to stop unwanted thoughts and feelings building up
  • Look out of early warning signs that you might be becoming unwell e.g. difficulty sleeping

Don’t overdo it

Lots of people do enjoy comforting foods, and a small amount of alcohol (especially over the holidays), but remember to keep it all in moderation. Official guidelines say that you should not regularly drink more than 14 units a week, and that if you do drink that much, it is best to spread this evenly across the week, rather than ‘bingeing’ on a single occasion. Visit Change4Life at for easy tips on cutting down. If you find that you regularly end up drinking more alcohol than you planned or getting into trouble as a result of your alcohol consumption, it may be worth making an appointment with your GP.

Register with a GP

It is very important to be registered with a GP, in order to make an appointment quickly. Being registered with a GP also means you can get referred to specialist hospital and community treatment if you need it. You can register online on the NHS website or by visiting your local practice in person.

GPs can:

  • Provide advice on physical and mental health problems
  • Provide diagnosis and treatment 
  • Help you plan your care
  • Arrange referrals to other services if needed

You will find that many additional Local Services can now be delivered in a GP surgery, such as blood tests, wound care, and some diabetes treatments. Your own GP may provide this care at their own practice site or they may refer to you to another site. For more information about Local Services, ask your GP.

Get your flu vaccination

You’re eligible for a free NHS flu vaccination if you’re:

  • Over 65
  • A child aged 2-7
  • Living with a long-term condition such as asthma or COPD
  • Pregnant
  • Living with a lowered immune system e.g. from cancer treatment or from HIV
  • A frontline health or social care worker

You can claim the jab or the nasal spray from your local GP. You can also get the jab from your pharmacist. Pharmacists are highly-trained medical professionals and in addition to flu vaccinations and other medicines, many offer advice on a range of health conditions including coughs, colds, healthy eating, sexual health, and stopping smoking.

Dr Tim Spicer, Chair of Hammersmith and Fulham CCG, said: “Every year we back Self-Care Week with advice and support for local people.

“Self-care is especially important at this time of year – after all, nobody wants to spend Christmas in hospital and during the winter months Cold weather and festivities can make illness and injury more likely, while the holiday period means that some services may be closed.”