Winter pause for thought

My article in the Jersey Evening Post 22 January 2020

Winter throws all sorts at us in Jersey: big winds and rain, less sunshine and shorter days, stuffy rooms and buses with steamed up windows, and more.

This means it’s harder to get outside, easier to catch lurking viruses and bacteria, and far too easy to carry on eating and drinking as if it were the Christmas season.

Some things are out of our control but, with some thought and planning, can be halted or reversed; if you find it’s easier said than done, then please seek help from therapists, groups or your doctor.

For poor health, what trumps poor diet, lack of exercise, or too much drinking and smoking is social isolation.

Social inclusion, however, can help turn health genes back on – and stop them switching off in the first place.

Ongoing events with the Good Companions, Women’s and Men’s groups, etc, along with new initiatives such as the Listening Lounge and Happy to Chat benches, are all going well; there are many more schemes and I’d like to see a simple, States-funded central directory of what’s out there to help Islanders.

In the meantime, if Google is not your thing, our excellent library, The Bridge and doctors’ surgeries are good places to ask.

Our hospital is cancelling some routine operations and asking people not to come to A&E unless it’s an emergency, because we are short of beds – something that regularly happens at this time of year, and the request makes sense.

However, we must ask why more people aren’t going to their GP instead of turning up at A&E and also wonder what will happen when the new hospital is (eventually) built – the one that’s planned to have fewer beds.

And, lastly, you may remember the Common Cold Unit, a research facility in Wiltshire that closed in 1989 after not finding a cure for the common cold.

They did some interesting studies, though; in one experiment, a volunteer was fitted with a device that emulated a runny nose. The fluid had an invisible dye that would show up under UV light.

The volunteer socialised with other volunteers, just as if they were at a cocktail party. After a while, the UV light was switched on…and the dye showed up on the upper bodies, heads and hands of everyone there, and on the furniture, doorknobs, bowls and glasses.

I’ll leave you to think on that.

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