As we move into winter, it is important to look after our physical and mental health. Here are some of the ways you can look after yourself and loved ones this winter.
Wash your hands
We know that washing our hands well with soap and water is one of the best ways to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. If you do not have access to soap and water, use an alcohol gel (hand sanitizer) with over 60% alcohol or more, then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water when you are able. Good handwashing can also limit the spread of colds and flu.
Keep your distance
Social distancing measures have been recommended all over the world and they are very important to keep us safe. Stay at least 2 metres away from people who you do not live with where possible. This is especially important in winter when we spend more time indoors and there is a higher risk of coming into contact with the virus.
Wear a face covering
Face coverings can reduce the spread of infected droplets from our nose and mouth, meaning that if you have the virus you are less likely to spread it to other people. If you have a lung condition and find wearing a face covering difficult, we have a page with advice about what you can do.
For information about COVID-19 visit our COVID-19 section on the website.
Although there is no vaccine yet for COVID-19, there are still ways that vaccines can protect you this winter. It is important to have your yearly flu vaccine. This can help to protect you and those around you from the flu. It is important too that we do what we can to reduce the stress on our hospitals as we are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases across most of Europe. Not everyone is able to get vaccinated due to their age or other conditions. If all of us who can, have our vaccines then we can help protect those who cannot. You can learn more about vaccinations in our vaccination infographic.
With many countries going back into some form of lockdown, it can be harder than usual to stay active. There are a lot of exercise videos and classes that have now moved online and are freely available on sites such as YouTube.
We have worked closely with Dr Georgia Hardavella and physiotherapist Niktas Kampanis to produce an easy and enjoyable at-home workout for people with lung conditions, you can access the introductory video here. The full video series will be available later this month.
We know it can be hard to find the motivation to move during a winter lockdown, but the benefits for both your physical and mental health make staying active an important way to look after yourself. Learn more in our factsheet about your lungs and exercise.
As we spend more time indoors over winter, it is important to be aware of indoor air pollution. This can be caused by indoor fires or heaters, household cleaning products, damp or mould along with others.
Be aware of pollution outside too, this may be from car fumes on the roads or chemicals used in farming. Unless you need to, try to avoid driving, walking or cycling at busy times.
You can learn more about air pollution in our air quality infographic.
It is never too late to quit smoking. There is clear evidence that smoking increases your risk of severe symptoms of COVID-19 along with other lung conditions such as COPD and lung cancer. As we will all be spending more time indoors this year, by quitting smoking you will also be protecting those close to you from second-hand smoke.
You can learn more about smoking and the benefits of quitting in the following factsheets:
Looking after your mental health is as important as looking after your physical health. As we move into winter and face stricter lockdown measures, you may find that you are struggling to feel well mentally. Many of the things listed in this article will help to improve your mental wellbeing, especially if you can stay active, even if only around your home.
Practicing mindfulness and talking about how you feel with family or friends can be very helpful. We have a factsheet all about looking after you mental wellbeing with a lung condition or as someone caring for someone with a lung condition.
If you feel that you are really struggling and need support, it is important to speak to your doctor and they will be able to refer you to someone to speak to about your mental health.
Learn about the factors that can cause lung disease and the ways to reduce your contact with them.
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