Winter Pressure: Maintaining your physical and mental health

As the temperature drops and the darker winter month approaches, our emotional and physical well-being remains essential.

Research has found a strong relationship between physical and mental health (Nabi et al., 2008). For instance, when we have better physical and mental health, we can continue to be active and participate in activities we enjoy; subsequently, leading to a positive effect on our physical and psychological health (Ohrnberger, Fichrera & Sutton., 2017).

There are a number of ways to look after yourself physically this winter:

1) Get vaccinated

Flu vaccines are available: flu vaccines can protect people from getting seriously ill with the flu. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a reduced number of people would have built a natural immunity (NHS, 2021).

You can access NHS created leaflets that provide additional information about the Flu vaccine. These leaflets have been translated into 26 languages and are available in large print, braille and a BSL video.

Access this leaflet here.
Covid booster vaccines are now available for those who have received their two doses at least six months ago. The booster will help give you better protection against seriously ill from Covid-19 (NHS, 2021).

The NHS have created a guide to the booster vaccination, which you can find here.
This winter, it is safe to have the flu and Covid-19 booster vaccines together (NHS, 2021). It’s important to note that many may experience anxiety about receiving vaccinations. This anxiety may be because of experiencing uncertainty, fear of side effects, needle phobia or something else.

Check out our pages on vaccine hesitancy and needle phobia.
2) Quit smoking or alcohol

Quitting smoking or alcohol will have a positive impact on your physical and mental health. For instance, Drinkaware reported that cutting out alcohol will improve your energy levels and sleep and provide you with a clearer mind. Stopping smoking has been proven to boost your mental well-being.

NHS smoking app
NHS self-help guide: Alcohol and You (Northumberland, Tyne and Wear)
Our Substance Misuse Practitioner Stefani held a webinar about alcohol and its effects on wellbeing. Watch below (10 minutes)



This year marks Stoptober’s 10-year anniversary. Did you know If you can make it to 28 days smoke free, you’re 5 times more likely to quit for good? Have a watch of our short video for tips to quitting today!



Keeping Well BLMK provides support for anyone who is struggling with substance misuse, including alcohol and tobacco. All support is confidential and evidence-based and includes providing harm minimisation approaches, motivational interviewing, relapse prevention and health education.

Also, we support any supervisors or managers concerned about an employee that may be struggling with substance misuse, to ensure they receive the right support as soon as possible.

Contact us:
Live chat or call 01908 724227 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)
Email keepingwell.blmk@nhs.net
Complete a self-referral form or request a call back.

3) Stay active

As the weather changes, it can be challenging to maintain our activity levels. But, regular exercise can help improve mood, physical health, relieve stress and tension and boost your immune system during the winter period.

Here are some ways to continue being active during the winter period.
Also, here is an article on Wild Swimming from Sarah Higgins, Lead Nurse at MK Mental Health and how she continued staying active during winter.
References:
Ohrnberger, J., Fichera, E., & Sutton, M. (2017). The relationship between physical and mental health: A mediation analysis. Social Science & Medicine, 195, 42-49. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.11.008.

Nabi, H., Kivimaki, M., Vogli, R., Marmot, M., & Singh-Manoux, A. (2008). Positive and negative affect and risk of coronary heart disease: Whitehall II prospective cohort study. BMJ, 337(jun30 1), a118-a118. doi: 10.1136/bmj.a118.
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