General health and wellbeing tips

The following are some general health and wellbeing tips or “self-help strategies” that may help you with managing your physical health.

Exercise: regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, will help you combat low mood and improve motivation. This is true for everyone, even people who have physical health problems or persistent physical symptoms. Aim to do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week but you will need to build up gradually if you have been inactive for some time. Moderate exercise should make you feel slightly out of breath and tired. Going for a brisk walk is a good example. Click here to learn more about the benefits of physical exercise.

Pacing: If you have a health problem that causes pain or fatigue it is important to pace out your activities. Try to avoid doing everything you can on a ‘good day’ to make up for a bad day when you have not felt able to do much at all. This can lead people to get trapped in a “boom or bust” cycle which can be demoralising. In some instances, it may lead people to give up altogether. Instead, try engage in a moderate amount of activity everyday regardless of your symptoms and make sure that you take regular breaks. This will give you a better sense of control over your life rather than your physical health condition being in control.

Smoking and drinking: Although it can be tempting to smoke or drink to make you feel better when you are trying to cope with physical illness or persistent physical symptoms, in the long run it will make things worse. Drink alcohol in moderation and, if you smoke, try to give up. The NHS and your GP provide free support to people who would like to stop smoking.

Understanding emotional difficulties: emotional difficulties such as depression and anxiety problems are very common when people are living with chronic physical health problems – one in three people with chronic physical health problems have these emotional difficulties. Some people find that reading about emotional difficulties can help. There are many books based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). These books can help you understand more about emotional problems and learn ways of overcoming them by making changes to thinking styles and behaviour patterns. To find out more about recommended books click here.