Every year, health organisations throughout the UK recognise May as Stroke Awareness Month. This annual campaign motivates individuals to learn how to detect the signs of a stroke, understand the potential complications that can result from experiencing a stroke and implement best practices for preventing this condition. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in particular is a difficult and worrying time for everyone and our lives rapidly switched upside down which has affected people emotionally and isolation can be especially difficult for stroke survivors.
A stroke occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, this life-threatening condition affects over 100,000 Britons each year, contributing to nearly 40,000 annual deaths in the UK.
However, health experts confirm that a variety of lifestyle practices can help reduce your likelihood of experiencing a stroke. Consider the following guidance to limit your stroke risk:
- Manage underlying conditions—A variety of underlying health conditions can increase your likelihood of experiencing a stroke. These conditions include atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and transient ischaemic attacks. If you have any of these conditions, follow your treatment plan and consult your GP regularly to ensure that the condition is being properly controlled.
- Eat a balanced diet—Consuming excess salt, sugar and fat can increase your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, both of which can cause a stroke. Be sure to maintain a low-fat, high-fibre diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.
- Exercise regularly—Similar to keeping a healthy diet, regular exercise can help keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control, reducing your risk of having a stroke. Health experts recommend completing at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week (eg running or cycling).
- Avoid bad habits—Smoking can increase your likelihood of having a stroke because it narrows your arteries and makes your blood more likely to clot. Further, drinking too much alcohol can also heighten your stroke risk, seeing as this activity can cause high blood pressure and trigger an irregular heartbeat. Try to stop smoking by using one of these NHS resources, and limit your alcohol intake to no more than 14 units each week.
- Know how to respond—Lastly, it’s crucial to know the signs of a stroke and how to react if you or a loved one is experiencing them. If you or a loved one loses function in one side of the face, has numbness or tingling in either arm and develops slurred speech, dial 999 immediately.
For further NHS guidance on this condition, click here.
Preventing the Spread of Infection During Coronavirus
According to health experts, maintaining proper hand hygiene is crucial to help prevent the spread of germs and reduce the risk of falling ill. Indeed, it’s important to wash your hands frequently throughout the day—especially before eating or preparing food, after going to the toilet, after caring for someone who is ill and after handling rubbish.
Further, be sure to utilise proper techniques when you wash your hands. After all, using poor handwashing practices can actually end up spreading germs rather than eliminating them. Specifically, make sure you avoid these common handwashing errors:
- Using soap first—Rather than reaching for the soap straight away, remember to wet your hands with warm, clean running water first. This initial moisture will generate a better lather while you wash your hands, which helps eliminate germs more effectively.
- Scrubbing too quickly—Never rush the process of washing your hands. Health experts recommend lathering and rinsing your hands for at least 20 seconds. You can keep track of the time while you wash by singing or humming the chorus of your favourite song.
- Not drying off—After you finish washing your hands, be sure to dry them immediately with an air dryer or paper towel. This step is vital, seeing as germs can be transferred more easily to and from wet hands.
If Working From Home Consider These Top Tips to Stay Successful and Productive
Although teleworking can be an extremely beneficial option, working from home also comes with unique challenges. When your workspace and living space are combined, it can be difficult to navigate household distractions, stay engaged and maintain productivity. With this in mind, consider the following best practices to stay successful when teleworking:
- Set a designated work area—Choosing a spot in your home that is designated for working is an important step you can take to set yourself up for success. This could be a spare bedroom that you’ve turned into a home office, a desk located in the corner of the living room or even the dining room table. However, avoid working in your bed or on the sofa, as these areas are associated with relaxation rather than productivity.
- Dress the part—The way you dress has been proven to affect you psychologically. This means that, although it may sound like a great idea to work in your pyjamas, it could negatively affect your ability to focus. While you do not need to dress up in business formal attire if you are working from home, you should take the time to shower, brush your teeth and get ready for the day. Aim for casual (but not sloppy) attire.
- Avoid distractions—Stay focused on work throughout the day to maintain consistent productivity. Avoid online distractions as well. Limit the time spent on email, social media and websites unrelated to work. Set a timer on your phone or computer if necessary.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. Readers should contact a health professional for appropriate advice.