Put yourself first by hitting the self care button this week

Look after yourself and take charge of your health – that is the message from NHS chiefs this Self Care Week.

By staying active, preventing falls, checking your medication to knowing how to treat common illnesses yourself, the NHS in Lancashire and South Cumbria are dedicating a week of activity to help people understand the little things they can do to prevent health and wellbeing issues getting to the point of needing medical help.

Self Care Week is a national event from 14- 20 November and is the perfect time to think about how we live our lives and maybe make some small changes.

Peter Gregory, associate medical director with NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: “We see a lot of people coming to GPs with conditions that would naturally get better in time on their own. It’s easy for people to assume the worst when they get ill and worry that their cold or sore throat is something worse, and we will always encourage people to make an appointment with their GP if they have real cause for concern. But very often it’s better to take control of the illness and a quick visit to a pharmacist for advice or simply getting plenty of rest and warm drinks is enough to get on top of things.”

To mark the week a series of information videos have been created featuring facts about common illnesses that can easily be treated at home. The list includes hot baths and some over-the-counter pain killers for colds, honey and lemon in warm water for coughs, olive oil in the ears to help with build up of ear wax and even exercises on how to improve balance if you’re unsteady on your feet. They give information on how long the illness should last and at what point you should consider seeking medical advice from your doctor.

The videos will be shared on the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board’s website – www.healthierlsc.co.uk/nhshealthwise – and social media throughout the week along with other tips and some facts about self care.

The benefits of self care goes beyond not having to take time to see a healthcare professional. Very often over-the-counter remedies can be much cheaper than getting them on prescription. Paracetamol for example costs as little as 34 pence and completely stocking your medicine cabinet with staple medicines and remedies can be done for just £10. An NHS prescription for paracetamol could be as much as that alone.

There are also benefits for mental and physical health as good self care includes getting more exercise, quitting smoking and watching your weight. One of the simplest self care behaviours is trying a new hobby which distracts the mind from day-to-day troubles and can give you a sense of achievement. Speaking to a social prescribing link worker at your GP practice could help find something for you.

Some other top-tips for self care week include:

  • Consider taking vitamin D supplements, especially if you’re unable to get outside regularly
  • Boost your immunity with good nutrition and regular exercise
  • Support your mental wellness by keeping connected to friends and family
  • Note your daily achievements and celebrate the little things
  • Learn something new every day and take time to notice the world around you
  • Get plenty of fresh air
  • Speak to a local pharmacist to review all your medication if you have a lot of medications

People with long-term health conditions are at greater risk of becoming unwell at this time of year as the colder weather makes conditions worse. So, if you have respiratory conditions or even if you’re just a little unsteady on your feet there’s some information that you might find useful.

If you have tips you’d like to share, please post them on social media using #SelfCareHealthWise.

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