Powys people share their health and well-being resolutions for 2022

Saturday 22nd January 2022 9:00 am
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Clair Swales, a 44-year-old former firefighter from near Hay-on-Wye, says she feels more empowered to improve her health when she cuts down on drinking alcohol

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As the challenges of COVID-19 continue into 2022, the NHS remains open and is still here to help. But health professionals from across Powys are encouraging people to make some small changes to improve their health and wellbeing.

As part of the Welsh Government’s Help Us Help You campaign, Stuart Bourne, Director of Public Health from Powys Teaching Health Board, said there are some simple things we can do which can make a big difference to our health and wellbeing:

Mr Bourne said: “If you lead a healthier lifestyle, you are more likely to live longer and less likely to develop serious illnesses and health conditions. Help us help you by relieving the stress on our NHS by doing what you can to stay healthy.”

Look after your mental health

Freda Lacey, Mental Health Partnership Manager at Powys Teaching Health Board, said: “There are a number of things we can do which can help protect and improve our mental wellbeing. We know that levels of anxiety are higher than before the pandemic so it’s really important that we do what we can.”

“Being more active, eating well, making sure you’re getting enough sleep and connecting with friends and family – whether that’s in a virtual sense or safely face-to-face - are all things you can do to help protect your mental health.

There is free support available:

• If you’re aged 16 or over living in Wales and are experiencing mild to moderate anxiety, depression or stress then you can access a free online therapy service through SilverCloud without needing to go through your GP. You can sign up to Silvercloud for free here: https://nhswales.silvercloudhealth.com/signup/

• If you are feeling low or you are struggling, contact the CALL Helpline for confidential listening and emotional support. Lines are open 24/7, call 0800 132 737 or text ‘help’ to 81066.

• For people aged under 35, contact HOPELINE UK for confidential suicide prevention advice. Open 9am to midnight every day of the year. Call on 0800 068 4141 or email [email protected]

• If you’re struggling with a difficult situation and suicidal thoughts, the www.stayingsafe.net website provides ideas to get through it and things that you – and others - can do to make things better.

Eat a healthy and balanced diet

Eating a well-balanced diet can have a huge impact on our health. We are encouraged to eat less saturated fat, sugar and salt, and more fruit, vegetables, oily fish and fibre.

Elinor Davies, a Public Health Dietetic Support Worker, said: “It’s recommended that you eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. including fresh, frozen or canned products. There is evidence that people who eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and who eat fewer ultra-processed foods have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.”

If you want to kickstart your journey to a healthier lifestyle, but don’t know where to start go to the Living and Feeling Well pages on the NHS 111 Wales website for tips and advice. Every change you make will help us help you.

Be more active

Improving your levels of fitness can boost your mental health and reduce your risk of developing major chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.

A supervised exercise programme can also have therapeutic benefits for people with long-term health conditions such as muscular dystrophy, chronic fatigue syndrome and depression.

Gwyn Owen, Freedom Leisure area manager for Powys, said: “Small steps can make a big difference to your health and weight. At our leisure centres across Powys, there are many activities on offer that are delivered in a safe environment with qualified staff.

“We deliver the Powys National Exercise Referral Scheme (NERS) working closely with GPs, specialist nurses, physiotherapists and dieticians. We provide a health intervention programme covering healthy weight, cardiac, stroke, cancer, falls and mental health.”

To find out more about physical exercise, visit NHS 111 Wales - Living and Feeling Well : Physical Activity

Get help to stop smoking

The number of smokers seeking help to quit in Powys has risen significantly since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic.

Stuart Bourne, Director of Public Health, said: “By quitting smoking, you can increase the efficiency of your lungs and the flow of oxygen into your blood. This is important because the more efficient your lungs, the better your chances of recovering from coronavirus. We’re asking people who smoke to get in touch to access free support.

“The evidence tells us that you are four times more likely to quit for good if you receive support from an NHS service rather than if you quit on your own.”

Layla Jones is 48 and lives in Newtown. She quit smoking in January 2020 after seeking support from Help Me Quit, and said: “I have tried stopping countless times and I would always last about a week. The Help Me Quit service has been brilliant - I wouldn’t have been able to stop smoking without it.”

If you would like to find out more about the stop smoking services on offer in Powys, please call on 0800 085 2219 or visit the website www.helpmequit.wales

Reduce your alcohol consumption

Stuart Bourne from Powys Teaching Health Board said: “The guidelines for men and women is to drink no more than 14 units a week. If you drink as much as 14 units a week, it is better to spread this evenly over three or more days.

“As persistent alcohol misuse can increase your risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, liver disease and various cancers, we are asking people to help us help you and cut down your levels of alcohol intake.”

Clair Swales, a 44-year-old former firefighter from near Hay-on-Wye, has made the New Year’s Resolution to cut her drinking:

“Sometimes, I might drink a couple of glasses of wine up to three times a week. Like many, I tend to reach for the bottle of wine after a stressful day. But it can easily slip into a habit that’s hard to break. I notice the difference it makes when I cut down. I’m much less tired and lethargic, I feel generally better, my skin improves and I feel more empowered to go to the gym and improve my health generally.”

If you are worried about your alcohol use, please visit NHS 111 Wales - Living and Feeling Well : Alcohol

Drink plenty of water

A great New Year’s Resolution is to drink more water. Keeping hydrated is so important for our health, and can prevent tiredness, headaches, and constipation.

“Try pouring out six or eight glasses into a jug or water bottle and drink it regularly throughout the day,” said Elinor Davies, a Public Health Dietetic Support Worker for Powys Teaching Health Board.

“ If you do not like the taste of plain water, add a slice of lemon or lime or brew yourself a herbal tea. Regular teas and coffee count too!”

Get vaccinated

Help us help you and get vaccinated when invited, including the COVID-19 boosters and yearly flu jabs.

More information on vaccination in Powys can be found here: Drop-In COVID Vaccination Sessions - week beginning 10 January - Powys Teaching Health Board (nhs.wales)