Tips to overcome a needle phobia

Round & About

Health & Nutrition

A needle phobia is quite common – it’s thought to be a problem for about 1 in 10 of us.

People who experience this may have had a lot of injections in childhood, or had previous bad experiences with injections, but this is not always the case. It can result in sensations of panic or feeling faint – or actually fainting – because of a rise and then a rapid drop in blood pressure.

Phil Day, Superintendent Pharmacist at Pharmacy2U, the UK’s first and largest online pharmacy, gives us some helpful advice for anyone who is worried:

1.

It’s nothing to be embarrassed about! If you’re going for an injection, tell the person giving it to you about your phobia and they’ll take good care of you. They’ll be very used to it and will know what to do. They can help by distracting you, perhaps by talking to you during the process – which is over before you know it.

2.

There are things you can do to help yourself. There’s a process called “applied tension”, where you tense your muscles for 10-15 seconds at a time, then rest, and repeat 5 times. Doing this every few days for a week or so can train your body to prevent fainting. Then, whenever you feel anxious about injections, you can repeat the process and it should control your blood pressure quickly. Don’t forget that you should always relax your arm for an injection, though.

3.

Gradually exposing yourself to different situations relating to needles has been shown to help lots of people ease their phobia over time. Perhaps start with thinking about having an injection, and working up from there – and practising “applied tension” and deep mindful breathing when you feel the anxiety coming on.

Overcoming or learning to control a fear takes time and practice, including discovering what tips work best for you to help reduce the fear you feel. It is important if you suffer from a needle phobia to try out different techniques that can help with this so that it doesn’t prevent you from getting important vaccinations that can benefit your health.


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Get zoom ready with vitamins

Round & About

Health & Nutrition

As millions across the world continue to interact online, people are spending a record amount of time video chatting.

This means that you often spend hours every week seeing yourself far more than you did pre-Covid, often leading to you paying greater attention to how you look. With this in mind, Pharmacy2U, the UK’s largest online pharmacy, have compiled a list of the best vitamins to make sure you’re Zoom-confident!

Phil Day, Superintendent Pharmacist at Pharmacy2U, the UK’s first and largest online pharmacy, gives us which vitamins help with what:

Vitamin A

All cells need vitamin A for growth: this includes hair, which is the fastest growing tissue in the human body. It also helps your skin to produce an oily substance called sebum which helps to moisturise your scalp and keep your hair looking healthy. It has also been found that people that are deficient in vitamin A may experience hair thinning and hair loss.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can be found largely in both the epidermis (outer layer of skin) and the dermis (inner layer of skin). It has antioxidant properties and plays a key role in producing collagen, which helps to keep skin healthy. This is one of the key ingredients found in many anti-ageing skincare products. It helps to heal damaged skin and also has the ability to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, help to repair hair and prevent dry skin. It’s also great for healthy hair, again linked to its role in producing collagen, which is an important part of the hair structure.

Vitamin D

Typically we get the majority of our vitamin D in the summer months; the skin makes it when it’s exposed to sunlight. However, with most of us stuck indoors and with the gloomy winter weather many of us may be deficient at the moment. Vitamin D is used throughout the body, including the skin, where it plays an important role in skin tone, as well as preventing premature skin ageing. It also promotes healthy bone growth, with some studies showing that it can help with dry skin, eczema and psoriasis. Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked to hair loss, with research showing that vitamin D may help create new hair follicles.

Vitamin E

Similarly to vitamin C, vitamin E possesses antioxidant properties, helping to prevent the skin from sun damage. Vitamin E absorbs UV light, minimising the damage done by UV rays, preventing dark spots and wrinkles. If you have particularly dry skin, vitamin E can help to counteract a lack of sebum, as well as to help in the treatment of skin inflammation.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is vital in helping the body’s ability to form blood clots, which helps the body to heal bruises, wounds and any areas that have been affected by surgery. It is thought to help skin conditions including scars, stretch marks and dark eye circles.

Some vitamins should not be taken in large doses, and some may clash with prescribed medicines. Before taking any new vitamin supplements, talk to your pharmacist for advice if you need it.”


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Staying safe after COVID-19 vaccination

Round & About

Health & Nutrition

How the vaccination could make you feel and what to do after you’ve had it. Comments from Phil Day, Superintendent Pharmacist at Pharmacy2U, the UK’s first and largest online pharmacy:

“Like all medicines, there is a potential for side effects. These are generally mild and disappear within a day or two, and not everyone who has the vaccine will be affected. The most common side effects include fatigue, having a tender arm where you had your injection, and general aches and flu-like symptoms. These are common for many vaccines; the vaccine cannot give you Covid-19. It’s important to remember that if you experience mild symptoms after the first dose, you still need to get the second dose.

You must continue to take all recommended precautions to avoid infection

“It will take a week or two for your body to build up protection from the first dose of vaccine. No vaccine is 100% effective, and we still don’t know how much the vaccine prevents transmission of the disease, so you must continue to take all recommended precautions to avoid infection. In order to minimise any risks, for you, your family or other people you may come into close proximity with, you should continue to practise social distancing, wear a face mask, wash your hands frequently and follow the current government guidance.

“Although the fact that such a vast number of the population are receiving their vaccination is hugely positive, it’s important not to get complacent. By doing this, we can continue to alleviate pressures on the NHS. There is still a long way to go before life returns to pre-Covid normality and you can play your part in getting us all thereby sticking to the national guidelines.”


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How daylight savings affect your sleep

Round & About

Health & Nutrition

Three ways daylight saving affect your sleep — and what you can do about it

The clocks go forward on March 28th — marking the start of daylight savings. Unfortunately, this means one less hour in bed, so prepare to feel extra sleepy that day!

As it turns out, this lost hour can have a greater impact than you may initially think on your sleep cycle. To help you prepare, we’ve identified three ways daylight savings affects your sleep, plus three ways you can fix it.

It disrupts your rhythm

Our bodies use circadian rhythm, a sort of internal body clock, to keep track of the time. It takes things like sunlight, how often we eat, and other aspects of our routines to determine when we should be awake and when we should be asleep. So, the hour lost from daylight savings could throw us off track and impact our nightly rest.

Maintaining a routine is crucial if you want to fall asleep easily

Solution: don’t oversleep. Try and keep to the exact same routine as you would normally. It may be tempting to lie in an hour past your alarm to ‘regain’ your lost hour of sleep, or even to have a nap during the day to catch up. But, these may be more detrimental to your body’s natural rhythm than if you were to stick to your regular pattern. Instead, it’s better to simply mourn the lost hour and move on, sticking to your usual routine.

The nights are shorter

This is the time of year where nights start to get shorter. By this, we mean that there are more hours of daylight, which is great for packing in loads of fun activities during the day. But, it can make sleeping difficult when the sun streams into your bedroom at times when you’d usually be trying to rest and recharge.

Solution: separate day from night. Darkness is key for sleep, as it tells our bodies to produce a soporific hormone called melatonin. So, at this time of year, you may wish to try installing thicker curtains or blinds to keep the light out and closing them around two hours before bedtime, so you can start to get sleepy when you need to.

Additionally, it can help to try and get as much light during the day as you can so that your body produces enough melatonin to keep you asleep through the night (NIH).

The weather is warmer

Summer sun is definitely something to look forward to, and the clocks going forward is signal that warmer weather is on the way. Unfortunately, this can mean sticky, sweaty nights and disrupted sleep, which can certainly put a damper on things. According to experts, the optimal temperature for encouraging sleep is between 15 and 20 degrees, much cooler than you might expect (Sleep Foundation).

Solution: keep it cool. The best solution would be to open your windows, as not only will this let the heat out, but the circulating air can make it easier to breathe too. You should also make sure you have a breathable mattress, as well as a lighter tog duvet than you would use in winter. A good summer duvet is generally around 4.5 tog, or anything up to 7.5 if you prefer a heavier blanket.

“The clocks going forward can make you feel off kilter for a few days, but it can have an even bigger impact on your sleep if you let it. Remember that sleep is a cycle, and maintaining a routine is crucial if you want to fall asleep easily and stay out of it until the morning.

“I always think of daylight savings as the start of summer, but, while longer days and warmer weather are a definite plus, if you’re not sleeping well, you can’t even enjoy the sun properly. Fortunately, by taking steps to make sure our bedrooms are the perfect environment for sleeping, we can enjoy a good night’s rest and longer days at the same time.”

Phil Lawlor, sleep expert at Dormeo. For more info please visit dormeo.co.uk


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Channel 5’s Skin A+E Needs Wiltshire

Round & About

Health & Nutrition

5 Star and Boom are looking for people from Wiltshire with various medical conditions to appear on SKIN A+E which is returning for its second series.

Following on from the success of the first series, which can be viewed here: SKIN A+E SERIES LINK

The doors to the Skin A+E clinic will be open for a second time, where a team of top UK dermatologists will give participants a FREE consultation, advice and medical treatment if appropriate.

If you, or someone you know, has a skin condition that you would like help with then the team at Boom would like to hear from you.

Perhaps your condition doesn’t qualify for treatment on the NHS? Or your treatment has been delayed?

Have you been unable to find the right treatment for your skin condition?

Or are you on a long waiting list for a referral to a dermatologist?

Their team of dermatologists would love to help you!

Applicants who are picked must be willing to talk openly and frankly about their condition and be available for filming for one day in April or May 2021. All applicants must be legal residents of the UK, currently live in the UK and be aged 18 and above.

To get more information and fill in an application form please email the production company at:

Deadline for applications is Friday 30th April 2021

We welcome applications from all sections of the community. Boom will process your information in accordance with its privacy policy (Boom Privacy Notice for Contributors) Applicants should be aware that due to the high volume of responses we cannot guarantee to reply to everyone.


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Putting children’s wellbeing first: Inside Out

Karen Neville

Health & Nutrition

Inside Out is an education charity based in Reading focussed on improving children’s wellbeing.

Children’s mental health and wellbeing have never been so high on the school agenda. Teachers have never been under so much pressure, managing daily change.

To help teachers and parents with the current, flexible approach to schooling, they have developed a ‘Wellbeing Guide’ based on their 5 Keys to Happiness, the equivalent of 5 fruit and veg a day for your mental health.

This is a free resource for schools, teachers and families packed with inspiration and activities to boost children’s happiness and wellbeing. These resources will now help ease the long-awaited transition back to school.

There is a wealth of information and resources out there but it’s often confusing and hard to know where to start. The Wellbeing Guides are full of activities that are simple, fun and quick-to-use, at home or school.

The Guide offers fun, simple ideas and resources for children, whether they are currently being educated at home or in school with a new edition shared each week during lockdown. Please see attached pdf of the latest edition, which includes a 5 Keys to Happiness poster for parents to print out and use at home.

For more wellbeing inspiration, why not follow INSIDE OUT on Facebook and twitter or visit their website www.theinsideout.org.uk for all previous issues of the Wellbeing Guide.

Read about pop icon Billy Ocean and the Young Voices Choir’s charity single to help children’s mental health here.

Eat better in lockdown

Round & About

Health & Nutrition

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

Hypnotherapy sleep tips

Round & About

Health & Nutrition

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.

Health research study

Round & About

Health & Nutrition

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

2020 trends

Round & About

Health & Nutrition

It’s the new year which must mean it’s time for that ‘new you’ we all search for for a few weeks/months, but trends for 2020 mean it’s not all about sweating it out at a gym and donning your running gear in all weathers, the emphasis is as much on mental wellbeing as it is on physical activity. Here’s a few of things to tempt you this year… 

Wellbeing workouts

More workouts are putting mindfulness and mental health at the fore with spiritual wellbeing and nurturing the soul becoming more important. Expect to find therapies like cryotherapy, meditation, breathing, massages and flotation tanks.

 

Mindful running

This can be a great way to put your worries and stresses to the back of your mind, disconnect from what is overwhelming you and allow you some ‘me time’. Mindful running encourages you to focus on your training and yourself.

 

Mind over matter

New workouts will focus on strengthening your mind as much as your body. The idea is to push yourself out of your comfort zone with bootcamp-style exercises and team competitions. The goal is to build mental resilience, as well as improve fitness levels.

 

Group workouts

2020 is expected to bring a surge in group sweat classes, workouts could replace happy hour and team lunches swapped for team outings to a spin or trampoline class. Working out increases team bonding, productivity and improves culture. It can be a great way to develop friendships too and reduce some of the self-consciousness and anxiety of exercising in a room full of strangers.

Hybrid yoga

Combine the exercise with other practices. Yoga HIIT (high intensity interval training) balances stretches with sharp bursts of intensity, ensuring you use all your muscles and are buzzing with endorphins.

 

Snooze time

Recognition of needing more sleep will be in focus in 2020. Sleep deprivation can impact you at work, your physical appearance and your mental health. There’s more technical equipment that can help fight lack of sleep and more fitness studios are sleep space for after workout rest and sleep pods are popping up for a rest on your lunch break.

 

Shorter workouts

It seems HIIT (high intensity interval training) is not intense enough, say hello to micro HIIT. The recommended amount of HIIT is 20 minutes, three times a day but get set for an even more intense version with two or three minutes’ worth throughout the day! Feel exhausted yet?

 

At-home workouts

The popularity of Peloton, the home-spinning bike sensation shows no signs of abating in 2020. Without having to leave home and in your pjs if you wish you can join in thousands of on-demand classes. Trainers with infectious energy are helping to grow this trend. Look out too for the Peloton Tread (running treadmills) coming from the US including training and recovery tips.

 

Smart boxing

With the increasing use of tech, comes punch trackers. Worn on your wrist, the device will track the velocity and intensity of your punches to measure your progression and see how your right hook compares to your fellow boxers.