Eat better in lockdown

Round & About

health

Food and drink have been one of the few pleasures we have still been able to enjoy during this lockdown and although the odd treat is fine, many of us are finding ourselves eating and drinking more, and have gained a few unwanted inches.

Commercial weight loss programs don’t work long term, with most achieving limited and/or temporary weight loss. So here are a few practical tips to eat better in lockdown.

1. Build your food environment.

The evidence is the rise in obesity is linked with our obesogenic environment. Be aware of the foods around you, and what you put on your shopping list, if you buy those Doritos chances are they will get eaten!

Abi Barclay-Watt, nutritionist

2. Kitchen opening hours.

If you easily succumb to snack cravings, try and stick to 3 meals a day. If you do need a snack have something nutritious on hand. Have a big fruit salad or veg sticks and nuts easily available. Meals can then be social focal points and it will mean less clearing up too!

3. Eating speed.

It has been shown that slower eaters release less of the hunger hormone than faster eaters. So, eat mindfully with your senses and chew well.

4. Portion size.

An obvious one, try and only cook what you need. Try and fill at least a third of your plate with veg.

5. Distraction activity

Are you really hungry, or just bored or thirsty? Try drinking some water first and wait before you grab that snack. Find another activity you enjoy to fill that craving, go for a walk, get lost in a good book etc.

6. Be kind to yourself.

There is nothing wrong in indulging occasionally and it is important to acknowledge resisting what your appetite wants can be a challenge. Try applying the 80:20 rule – eat healthily 80% of the time, it can make you aware of how much better you feel when you eat well but allow yourself the food you enjoy.

Find out more

For more information see my website and please do email any questions

Surrey Hills

Round & About

health

The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is looking forward to welcoming people back to visit but stress this is not the time to come and enjoy the countryside.

They want to reinforce the Government’s message in the releasing of lockdown measures in the countryside and encourage you to use the greenspaces closer to home and observe social distancing rather than travel distances.

Heather Kerswell, Chair of the Surrey Hills AONB Board comments:

“As we move out of the lockdown period over the coming months we look forward to welcoming visitors back to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“We know you will be keen to return to the Surrey Hills but just for now please stay local! This will ensure we all respect Government safety measures, local communities and wildlife.

“As freedom returns and we embrace a new normal, we will be keen for everyone to come and enjoy the benefits of natural beauty while supporting the local business community who very much need our custom at this time thank you.”

This very slight lifting of lockdown measures will still see many businesses remain closed, particularly those catering for the visitor such as attractions, hotels, restaurants, cafes, pubs, public toilets etc. The worry for many rural communities is people descending on beauty spots and picturesque Surrey villages making social distancing difficult and therefore increasing the risk of spreading the disease.

Chris Howard, Chairman of the Tourist Board – Visit Surrey added: “Whilst we are all anxious to get back out into the countryside, it is worth bearing in mind that facilities are still very limited due to the coronavirus restrictions. This means a lack of open toilets, and places to get food.

“Plan your outings carefully and get to know some of the amazing places right on your doorstep. Remember, the lockdown rules have only been tweaked slightly.”

Stephanie Fudge, National Trust General Manager for the Surrey Hills reinforced this saying that while the National Trust has been working on reopening plans, the safety of staff, volunteers, visitors and local residents is the priority.

She said: “Any reopening will need to be gradual and phased and visitors’ experience is likely to be different from usual, including the need to manage volume at our pay for entry places. Countryside car park opening will also be phased.”

Surrey Hills AONB has set out some key guidance points for accessing the Surrey Hills over the coming months:

· Keeping yourself and others safe is paramount and we encourage you to adhere to guidance set out by DEFRA in their Countryside Code.

· We are aware that many visitors who love to walk and cycle will have greatly missed the Surrey Hills landscape, the views and the well-known beauty spots. We encourage you to use countryside sites close to your home rather than travelling. Over the coming weeks and months we will see carparks and facilities gradually re-open and we urge you to check before you travel that car parks are open and would advise you away from the more well-known sites which may become congested and therefore difficult to socially distance.

· Please be aware that our local farms are under great seasonal pressures during this time and we would encourage you to respect their needs by keeping dogs on leads and follow all designated foot paths and bridleways to keep yourselves and farm animals safe.

· During the lockdown period, nature has had an opportunity to thrive and we ask you to look after nature by being extra cautious. Please stick to footpaths and bridleways so as not to disturb ground nesting birds and other wildlife.

· We encourage you to continue supporting local during this time of transition and want to highlight all the wonderful products and services available on our doorstep in the Surrey Hills. Take a look at our list of businesses offering home deliveries, online support and services, gifts and inspiration.

 

Click for further information on the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

Hypnotherapy sleep tips

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health

Oxfordshire-based clinical hypnotherapist Linda Flanigan has some help for anyone struggling to sleep in the current circumstances

One of the main impacts of the current situation is that it can disrupt our sleep. When we are stressed and facing dramatic changes, it can make sleep more difficult. Hypnotherapist Linda Flanigan is working to combat those sleep problems with the power of hypnosis, offering a complimentary hypnosis recording, as part of her community ‘give-back’ initiative to help people get through this difficult time. The latest recording is to help people achieve the deep, soothing, healthy sleep that we all want.

She said: “Our everyday way of life has changed dramatically and we are having to deal with emotions and fears that are causing a strain on our mental and physical well-being. As the lockdown continues and anxiety increases, many are finding they are suffering with sleep issues for the first time in their lives, while others who already have sleeping problems are finding they are exacerbated at this challenging time.

If sleep problems are not dealt with it can result in us being unable to sleep at all or to wake up several times during the night

“We cannot function properly without good, quality sleep and by stressing over the current coronavirus situation we are keeping our minds in a constant state of vigilance at night, rather than allowing restorative sleep. It’s natural to be worried but we need to look for ways to manage the stress to reduce the effects of being sleep deprived.”

Linda added: “I teach my clients hypnotherapy strategies that well help them deal with the blocks that are causing them problems. By giving them sleep techniques aimed specifically at calming restless minds and bodies, such as relaxation, focused attention, guided imagery and symptom control, I can ease the worries that are stopping sleep.

“If sleep problems are not dealt with it can result in us being unable to sleep at all or to wake up several times during the night or have more vivid or emotional dreams all leaving us feeling exhausted and irritable and unable to perform or focus the next day. Hypnosis can help with many forms of sleep issues.”

Linda advises sleep hypnotherapy as an alternative to traditional methods that perhaps are not effective with everybody or for those who prefer not to take sleeping pills.

She said: “It is a perfectly natural treatment without any side effects. That endless tossing and turning in bed creates more frustration so I can’t recommend this hypnosis recording enough if lack of sleep is troubling you during lockdown.”

As well as her recording, Linda has some hints and tips to achieve a better sleep:

1. Introduce helpful habits

We are not designed to sit all day in front of a screen, being bombarded with artificial light. Building good habits into the day will train your body to recognise when it’s time to sleep: make sure you get some natural light and exercise, eat healthily and sleep around the same time each night.

2. Let your body know you’re ready for bed

Wind down gently each night by watching, listening to or reading something fun or uplifting before you think about going to bed. Avoid caffeine, mobile phones, computers and late-night exercise – your brain wants to calm down not be stimulated.

3. Learn to switch off

It is important to calm our bodies physically and mentally before getting ready for bed. Do that in a way you enjoy. Have a long, hot bath (that also works to aid sleep as it reduces core body temperature when you get out – beneficial for sleep); do some meditation; focus on your breathing and breathe deeply; listen to some calming music; write down anything that you need to do the next day so that you can then let go of it before you sleep.

4. Make your bedroom conducive to sleep

Keep your bedroom as clear of clutter and work as you can. Keep it as a haven of comfort. Have a look around and see what you can clear out or tidy away. Sometimes just changing things around can make a big difference. Pay attention to the temperature in your room as research shows that we fall asleep a lot quicker if we are in a cool room.

5. Learn not to battle to get to sleep

Don’t watch the clock all night – turn it away from you. Instead of putting your focus on not being able to sleep, focus on how good it is to be simply resting: enjoy the feel of the comfy covers, your head resting on the pillow. Take yourself off in your mind to a nice, relaxing time, a time when it felt good to be relaxing. Put your focus on the positive: tell yourself “I choose to sleep” or “I’m enjoying resting peacefully”.

If you cannot sleep after a while get up and do something that is not too mentally taxing or stimulating.

Turn on the TAP

Round & About

health

A new social platform for thanking unsung heroes in education and healthcare/NHS was launched in Ascot last year but never has it been more poignant.

TAP (Thank And Praise) is a unique platform, running on WhatsApp, for parents and patients to thank employees working in education and healthcare/NHS.

Founders, Phillip and Sandie Curtis, came up with the idea after receiving so much excellent care and support for their special needs son, in schools and the NHS, and often finding it difficult to relay their appreciation.

Sandie shared her experience: ‘We have received so much help, from many truly amazing people, who deserve to be recognised for their selfless commitment to caring for us, and our children.’’

TAP research in 2019 confirmed more than 70% of people do not manage to give the thanks they want to pass on, and believe employees in the NHS and education, deserve more praise.

To use TAP, just register on WhatsApp, and let them know who you would like to thank. TAP will pass on your words of appreciation, and also allocate TAP points, worth £1, to your unsung hero, which can be redeemed with participating retailers. These points are funded by corporate companies who want to contribute to the wellbeing of employees in certain sectors.

Soon after the launch in Ascot, St Michaels school became the first establishment to receive more than 100 thank you messages, which means some of their staff have already qualified, and claimed their vouchers, which can be spent in retailers such as Costa, Waitrose and M&S.

The headteacher at St Michaels school, Lorna Anderton has witnessed the benefits of TAP first hand: “As a headteacher, I am thrilled with the opportunities TAP provides to support my teachers’ well-being. A ‘thank you’ every so often makes a huge difference to someone’s day and how they feel. Happy, positive teachers create an environment where our children can flourish. Everyone’s a winner!”

TAP is delivering a tangible solution to the growing need to improve staff well-being in the NHS and education; many of these unsung heroes are being worn down with pressures at work, and TAP provides us all with the opportunity to show how much we appreciate them.

TAP has just launched a digital thanking wall to allow people to post messages of appreciation for the courageous and selfless people working in healthcare/NHS and education, visit the website www.thankandpraise.com to see the wall and post your message.

If you live in the Ascot area, and want to give thanks, message us on Whatsapp 07871 064296, or, if you think TAP would benefit your community, contact Ann on [email protected]

Health research study

Round & About

health

People in the Thames Valley can now find more than 100 research studies taking place in the NHS, public health and social care using a new interactive online map.

The map, at thamesvalleyresearch.nihr.ac.uk, features pins that show where studies are taking place at locations including hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes.

Users click on the pin to browse studies at that location. They can also search all studies in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire by medical speciality, location, keyword (for example diabetes), postcode and study name.

After finding a study they are interested in, users visit a webpage for more information including a summary of the study, health inclusion and exclusion criteria and contact details.

The website lists studies supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands.

Prof Belinda Lennox, Clinical Director for the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands, said: “Health research is vital for developing new treatments in the NHS and improving the quality of the care that we provide.

“We rely on the public to take part in this research, which can range from filling out a questionnaire or giving a blood sample to trialling a new medication or treatment.

“This map provides people with the opportunity to actively seek out studies that they could take part in.”

Participating in health research helps develop new treatments, improves the NHS, public health and social care services and save lives.

Studies are offered to NHS patients that are relevant to their condition. Healthy people can also take part so results can be compared to those with a condition.

We rely on the public to take part in this research

Mental health day

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health

Look after your emotional well-being and you’ll be looking after your mental health.

That’s the message from the Samaritans today (Thursday, 10th October), World Mental Health Day.

This year the World Health Organisation (WHO) has chosen the theme suicide prevention. Every 40 seconds, someone in the world takes their own life. The organisation is encouraging people to prepare to take “40 seconds of action” to help: improve awareness of the significance of suicide as a global public health problem; improve knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide; reduce the stigma associated with suicide; and let people who are struggling know that they are not alone.

“Put simply, this is an opportunity to show you care,” said Chris Lindsay, director of Samaritans of Bracknell, Wokingham, Ascot & Districts. “Talking, rather than bottling things up, helps but sometimes, when we are worried about someone, we are not sure how to start the conversation,”

The website Samaritans.org offers “SHUSH” tips on how to be a good listener.

“We would like to get the message across that Samaritans can help people acquire the skills to look after their emotional health and look out for others, before they reach crisis point,” said Chris.

Samaritans offers free resources for schools and colleges to incorporate into their emotional health programmes.

The charity also offers Wellbeing in the Workplace. This is an online learning programme which brings Samaritans’ listening and wellbeing expertise into the workplace.

“It’s okay if you’re not an expert – just listening can help someone work through what’s on their mind. When people feel listened to, it can save a life,” said Chris.

Samaritans is available round the clock, every day of the year. The charity provides a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. Call 116 123 (free to call) (UK), email [email protected], or visit www.samaritans.org for further details.

YoungMinds, the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health, is encouraging people to say #HelloYellow today and help raise funds for YoungMinds.

Whether you choose to go for a subtle splash of colour or really turn up the sunshine with head to toe yellow, join in to show young people they’re not alone with their mental health.

Find out more

Autumn walks

Round & About

health

Photo: National Trust – John Miller

Autumn casts a new light on familiar landscapes. When trees blaze with orange, red and gold, shady woodland is transformed into a dappled golden path. Nature’s last hurrah before the long sleep of winter, it feels rude not to enjoy the show.

I’m lucky enough to work for an organisation that loves and looks after woodlands. The National Trust cares for more than ten million trees across the country and last year we funded 38 different tree and woodland projects across the South East.

Everyone is welcome in the woods we look after. We want them to be loved, explored and enjoyed by as many people as possible. There are also things we can all do to help look after woodlands, such as taking our litter home, picking up after our dogs, not allowing them to chase wildlife or disturb nesting birds and keeping to the paths.

A mature oak tree has about 700,000 leaves, providing food for the tree and enough oxygen for 10 people for a year. As leaves start to die, the tree takes back reusable proteins and green chlorophyll, revealing the yellow and red pigments produced by sugars remaining in the leaf. The best and most long-lasting colours develop with warm, bright days and cold nights, slowing the transport of sugar from the leaf. Try to catch a falling leaf – it’s trickier than you think! A good way to identify wildlife is to look for nibbled nuts; an excellent high-protein food for fattening up before winter.

Here are some favourites in your local areas…

Surrey & West Sussex

Winkworth Arboretum, near Godalming, is the National Trust’s only arboretum. Enjoy a walk through the woods as the autumn explodes with colour while younger ones can clamber over the new tree adventure, complete with climbing wall, fireman’s pole, rope tunnel and ladders. Dogs welcome. Normal entry. Facilities & tea room.

Hatchlands Park at East Clandon, near Guildford, has a 4.5km circular walk which follows the edge of the park through woodland. Dogs welcome. Free parking. Facilities, café & shop.

Admire the colours over the Devil’s Punch Bowl on the Hidden Hindhead Trail, the lovely walk crosses the A3 and takes in some spectacular views. Dogs welocome. Car parking. Café and food kiosk & facilities.

Take in Dapdune Wharf to St Catherine’s on a River Wey walk at Guildford. This dog friendly route offers some spectacular views at the highest point of the walk before you descend to the valley bottom. Parking available.

Petworth boasts 700 acres to explore – but you don’t need to do them all in one day! Stroll round the Pleasure Grounds, enjoy a three-mile walk through the park or discover the ancient trees that dominate the skyline here. Parking, café and facilities. Dogs allowed off leads in deer park and on a lead in the Pleasure Grounds.

More information

Visit the National Trust website for more information about any of these walks and those further afield

Autumn walks

Round & About

health

Photo: National Trust – John Miller

Autumn casts a new light on familiar landscapes. When trees blaze with orange, red and gold, shady woodland is transformed into a dappled golden path. Nature’s last hurrah before the long sleep of winter, it feels rude not to enjoy the show.

I’m lucky enough to work for an organisation that loves and looks after woodlands. The National Trust cares for more than ten million trees across the country and last year we funded 38 different tree and woodland projects across the South East.

Everyone is welcome in the woods we look after. We want them to be loved, explored and enjoyed by as many people as possible. There are also things we can all do to help look after woodlands, such as taking our litter home, picking up after our dogs, not allowing them to chase wildlife or disturb nesting birds and keeping to the paths.

A mature oak tree has about 700,000 leaves, providing food for the tree and enough oxygen for 10 people for a year. As leaves start to die, the tree takes back reusable proteins and green chlorophyll, revealing the yellow and red pigments produced by sugars remaining in the leaf. The best and most long-lasting colours develop with warm, bright days and cold nights, slowing the transport of sugar from the leaf. Try to catch a falling leaf – it’s trickier than you think! A good way to identify wildlife is to look for nibbled nuts; an excellent high-protein food for fattening up before winter.

Here are some favourites in your local areas…

Berks & Bucks

Hughenden, near High Wycombe, is a National Trust beech woodland with a German Forest of yew trees planted by Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Normal admission and there’s a café and facilities at Hughenden Manor.

Wendover Woods – Forestry England woods with cycling routes, fitness trail and new café. Free to visit (charge for parking).

Bradenham Woods, near High Wycombe, is a typical Chiltern woodland with valley view, cared for by National Trust. No charge. Café in Red Lion pub in the village.

Burnham Beeches, near Farnham Common, is a National Nature Reserve with walking and cycling trails, a visitor centre and café. Free to visit (charge for parking).

Cliveden, near Maidenhead – a National Trust beech woods with glorious green avenue, far-reaching views and routes down to the river. Normal entry. Facilities and café at Cliveden.

Basildon Park near Goring – National Trust woods with different walks and children’s play trail. Normal entry. Facilities and café at Basildon Park.

Swinley Forest, near Bracknell – Look-out Discovery Centre, walking cycling and Go Ape. An Iron Age hillfort surrounded by a mile-long ditch.

Sulham Woods, near Tilehurst – Mix of deciduous and coniferous woodland with lots of footpaths and far-reaching views of the Thames Valley. No charge, no facilities, walks online.

Bowdown woods near Thatcham – Woodland Trust dense ancient woodland. Waymarked wildlife walks. No charge, no facilities.

Greys Court near Henley – Chiltern beech woods on the estate. Short and long walks online. Normal admission. Café and facilities.

More information

Visit the National Trust website for more information about any of these walks and those further afield

Autumn walks

Round & About

health

Photo: National Trust – John Miller

Autumn casts a new light on familiar landscapes. When trees blaze with orange, red and gold, shady woodland is transformed into a dappled golden path. Nature’s last hurrah before the long sleep of winter, it feels rude not to enjoy the show.

I’m lucky enough to work for an organisation that loves and looks after woodlands. The National Trust cares for more than ten million trees across the country and last year we funded 38 different tree and woodland projects across the South East.

Everyone is welcome in the woods we look after. We want them to be loved, explored and enjoyed by as many people as possible. There are also things we can all do to help look after woodlands, such as taking our litter home, picking up after our dogs, not allowing them to chase wildlife or disturb nesting birds and keeping to the paths.

A mature oak tree has about 700,000 leaves, providing food for the tree and enough oxygen for 10 people for a year. As leaves start to die, the tree takes back reusable proteins and green chlorophyll, revealing the yellow and red pigments produced by sugars remaining in the leaf. The best and most long-lasting colours develop with warm, bright days and cold nights, slowing the transport of sugar from the leaf. Try to catch a falling leaf – it’s trickier than you think! A good way to identify wildlife is to look for nibbled nuts; an excellent high-protein food for fattening up before winter.

Here are some favourites in your local areas…

Oxfordshire

Badbury, near Faringdon is a beech woodland with great views of the Thames flood plain and Faringdon. Enjoy the remains of an iron age hill fort and natural play areas for children. Charge for parking. No facilities.

Wychwood Forest in Charlbury is part of the Cornbury Park Estate, the largest area of ancient woodland in Oxfordshire dating back to Neolithic times. No charge, no facilities.

Wytham Woods in west Oxford is one of the most researched woods in the world, as it is owned by the University of Oxford. You need a permit to walk in the woods, but it’s free to apply online. No charge, no dogs or bikes.

Cowleaze Woods, near Watlington. Set high on the Chiltern escarpment, it has far-reaching views over the Oxford plain and lots of circular footpaths. No charge, no facilities.

Basildon Park near Goring – National Trust woods with different walks and children’s play trail. Normal entry. Facilities and café at Basildon Park.

Bowdown Woods near Thatcham – Woodland Trust dense ancient woodland. Waymarked wildlife walks. No charge, no facilities.

Greys Court near Henley – Chiltern beech woods on the estate. Short and long walks online. Normal entry. Café & facilities.

More information

Visit the National Trust website for more information about any of these walks and those further afield

Health clinic

Karen Neville

health

A new child health clinic has opened in Reading offering integrated services for families and children under five. 

Weekly well-baby clinics will be held, including advice sessions with the health visiting team, a self-weigh drop in service and  regular health checks by appointment. More services are planned to follow at the old Salvation Army building at the Castle Hill roundabout.

The health visiting service offers a universal programme to all families from ante-natal through to when the child reaches school age including assessments during the first 30 months of a child’s life.

Drop in well-baby clinics are also offered to families with children under five to receive support and advice on child health, growth and development.

The new central clinic in Anstey Road has been created as part of a wider review of the health visiting service across Reading.

Further changes are also planned for Southcote Community Hub, Sun Street Youth and Community Centre, Ranikhet Children’s Centre and Whitley Health Centre, Caversham Children’s Centre and Battle Library – check locally with those.

A duty health visitor telephone/email advice line will operate Monday to Friday. View the button below for a link to online resources.

Lead councillor for health, wellbeing and sport, Cllr Graeme Hoskin said: “The new Salvation Army child health centre will offer Well Baby Clinics alongside a host of other advice and support services for families in a convenient central Reading location.

“The review of the Health Visiting Service has focused on making the best use of limited resources and ensuring that those who need the service most have easy access to clinics either by foot or by public transport.

“The mandated five baby health checks will continue to be held in all our centres and the popular Duty Health Visitor phone line and email will also be available to families as well as support and advice on the Berkshire Healthcare website.”