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Looking after your wellbeing over winter

27 October 2021

4 mins

Image courtesy of Getty Images

As the clocks go back this weekend, the UK starts to plan for this year’s winter. With the recent rise of Covid-19 cases throughout October, we cannot accurately predict the level of winter respiratory viruses that will circulate and the impact that these will have. Some experts are predicting that winter flu numbers will surge and phrases such as ‘twindemic’ have been coined to predict a combined flu and Covid-19 pandemic.  

So, how can we stay healthy this winter? 

Here are seven top tips on staying healthy through the cold and darker months. 

Vitamin D   

Known as the sunshine vitamin, this is a great supplement to have during the winter months because of the decrease in light hours from October-March. Vitamin D is known for improving bone health and reducing cancer cells and inflammation, and randomised trials have also shown that Vitamin D supplements can help to lower the risk of acute respiratory infections. People who are very deficient in Vitamin D have also been shown to experience more severe symptoms of Covid-19, which is why it’s important to consider taking a daily supplement.  


Moving regularly is known to release endorphins (happy hormones), reduce fatigue, support a positive mood, boost immunity as well as reduce the likelihood of coronary heart disease, stroke and dementia.  

Exercising outdoors provides a greater opportunity to access natural light too, which in turn is linked to a better sleep pattern and greater wellbeing.  


The gut microbiome has been strongly linked to our immunity and wellbeing. Having a diet rich in nutrients (which can be obtained from eating food such as nuts, seeds, wholegrains and plant proteins) can boost levels of Vitamin A, B6, B12, C and D which support immune health. High fibre plant-based foods and eating a rainbow of different fruit and vegetables along with fermented foods and pulses all support gut health.  

Support in the workplace 

NHS backlogs have increased during the pandemic, so supporting staff with health conditions in the workplace is key to health and wellbeing. A management referral into the Occupational Health and Wellbeing Service will help to identify how best to support your colleagues and may also lead to a referral to other services offered by the University, such as physiotherapy or counselling.  

If we cannot directly support treatment options, a report from Occupational Health will allow managers to determine if adjustments can be made whilst the employee is awaiting intervention and treatment.  

Reduce your risk of catching the flu  

This year, the NHS is offering the flu vaccination to a much wider population. Individuals who are eligible for the NHS vaccine can receive it free of charge from the Medicine Box (our on-site pharmacy). For those who fall outside of the NHS criteria, flu vaccines can be purchased at most pharmacies.  

Supporting employees in their recovery of the flu is also important and will help to reduce the spread further if they are advised to take the time they need to recover and/or work from home where applicable.  

Support those who experience SAD

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. SAD is sometimes known as ‘winter depression’ because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter.  

The main treatments for SAD are lifestyle measures, such as:  

  • Getting as much natural daylight as early in the day as possible to manage circadian rhythms 
  • Using a light box to simulate exposure to sunlight  
  • Getting out in nature 
  • Talking therapies can also support those struggling with their mental health in the winter months and this can be accessed via our Employee Assistance Programme. Additionally, the My Healthy Advantage app can help you to record your moods and understand when to seek additional support. 
Health and Wellbeing

Wellbeing means being in a positive physical, social and mental state. Wellbeing is important to us as happy, healthy people who achieve harmony in their work / life mix are more creative, productive and help to create a great place to work.

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