How to stay well during the winter restrictions

Although you could argue we are becoming more accustomed to restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it certainly doesn’t make them any easier. This is compounded with cold weather and shorter daylight hours.

Please find below some practical advice and resources that will help you stay healthy and get through these winter restrictions.

Get Active

The chief medical officer for the UK continues to recommend that adults take regular exercise. Each week you should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity or it could be a combination of the two. The prospect of getting outdoors during winter months can be daunting but making the time to get outside during daylight hours can make a big difference to your physical and mental health with studies recognising daylight and nature as positive influencers on your mood as well as helping to keep you active. If you are working from home you are encouraged to take a break during the day, even if it’s just for a quick walk when the sun comes out, talk to your line manager to agree what will work best for you. For those wanting to get back into exercise but do not know where to start why not try the NHS Couch to 5k.

If you’re one of our amazing key workers and are required to commute to your work location, you could consider making your commute an active one. Check out your eligibility to the Cycle to Work Salary Sacrifice Scheme or ask your line manager for details.

If you can’t get outdoors, there have never been more online resources available. Check out the Join the movement activity suggestions developed by Sport England. Alternatively, our own Serco Leisure team are live streaming exercise classes from our centres in Birmingham and Northern Ireland - you can book into one here.

Woman in gym kit walking along a path holding a water bottle
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Prioritise your Mental Health

Our mental health is impacted both positively and negatively by a wide range of factors that restriction can impact, these can include; physical health, relationships, work, and loneliness.

For most of us there are things we can do to help protect and manage our mental health including; staying active, getting a good night’s sleep and avoiding unhelpful coping mechanisms such as too much alcohol or smoking.

Other techniques such as mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy and relaxation techniques are proven to have a positive impact on your mental health. The good news is these techniques can all be found on the Thrive Mental health app which all Serco colleagues in the UK & Europe have access to.

Find out how to download Thrive by checking out Serco.Thrive.UK.com where you can sign up with a work or personal email address or by speaking to your line manager who will be able to give you details.

Stay connected

Physical distancing is creating a barrier for supporting one another but it doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected. It’s important that teams find ways to keep connected, this could be virtual coffee mornings on Teams or social groups on Yammer.

Staying connected can also have a positive impact on Mental Health. The charity Time to Change, says: “A small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference. We know that the more conversations we have, the more myths we can bust and barriers we can break down, helping to end the isolation, shame and worthlessness that too many of us with mental health problems are made to feel.” So please check in on your colleagues when you can. Simply asking someone, “Are you okay?” can be enough to get the conversation started.

We know talking to someone can be a great way to help manage your health. You can access our free confidential helpline 24/7 with Vita Health by calling:

Man wearing glasses using his smartphone to talk to a friend
Mother with her son helping him with his school work

Coping with home schooling

For those with children who are not able to attend school we realise this can be a big pressure. We have relaxed our home working policy to encourage parents to find an approach where they can support their children and continue to work, and we have introduced an enhanced dependency leave policy for those that need it. Speak you your line manager for more information.

If you’re struggling with juggling work and home schooling, BCC Bitesize also has a wide range of free learning resources available for children. It could be worth giving this a try, you can find the resources on the BBC website.