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Health Matters: 'Do what makes us feel better now and helps us in future '

By Dr Tim Allison

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Look after ourselves now and it'll help us in future.
Look after ourselves now and it'll help us in future.

The days have started getting significantly longer and there are even the first signs of green shoots from bulbs that have stayed dormant in the ground through snow and frost.

We may be looking forward to how we will make use of the longer days and the better weather in the months to come. We can look forward to getting out into the natural environment which is good for both our physical and mental health.

Even now, when the weather allows, we can get out in the fresh air and also have the opportunity to meet up with people.

Related: Health Matters: 'Well-chosen actions and treatment have chance of working'

We have not said farewell to winter weather though. Cold weather and high winds continue to be both a risk and a reality at different times. The risks of power cuts resulting from an overall supply shortage seem to have lessened, but we do need to be conscious of what would happen should power supplies be damaged through shortage or the effects of weather.

Home is usually the best place to be when the weather is bad or conditions outside difficult. However, as well as looking after ourselves we do need to be conscious of our neighbours and those around us, especially people who are more vulnerable and living on their own.

Issues that we normally face over the wintertime have become more acute through a combination of a rise in the level of respiratory infections and increases in the cost of living which looks like it will stay with us for some time. So, it is more important than ever to check in on our neighbours and it is amazing what a bit of human contact can do to lift our mood.

I have been thinking a lot recently about prevention. It is the subject of my latest annual report and was discussed at the last meeting of the health board. It is generally accepted that prevention is better than cure, but it can be hard to make the case for prevention either in a big organisation or in our personal lives.

It can be easier to focus on doing things now and on fixing things now rather than dealing with things that may or may not happen in the future. But a focus on prevention is vital for us, looking to the future is vital for us and the distinction between what happens now and what may or may not happen in the future is sometimes a false distinction.

Dr Tim Allison, director of public health for NHS Highland.
Dr Tim Allison, director of public health for NHS Highland.

There are many things that we can do which both make us feel better now and help us in the future. Having contact with people and having contact with the natural world are two of those things, so let us take the opportunity to do that over the next few weeks, getting out when possible and checking on our neighbours when we are all staying in.

– Dr Tim Allison is director of public health for NHS Highland.

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