Home General Info & Awareness Give Yourself A Winter Health MOT

Give Yourself A Winter Health MOT

by InvisiblyMe
A photo of a woman, where we can only see the lower part of her head, covered in snow. The background is blurred snow. She's holding her fingerless mittens up and blowing a ball of snow cupped in her hands. Overlaid is the title: Give yourself a winter health MOT.

Winter Health MOT

As the winter months roll in, it’s a good time to take stock of your health. With the current pandemic, it could be argued that it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re doing what you can to keep your body and immune system as healthy as possible, though it’s harder still when stuck at home. Now’s the time to give yourself a mini winter health MOT, whatever your current health. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

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Medication Review

Run through your prescription and over the counter medication supply and see what you may want to order, purchase or have reviewed. Do you have any concerns or queries to raise with your doctor, specialist or pharmacist? Do you think any are not helpful or causing too many side-effects? Now’s a good time to speak to a professional for a medication review. 

Magnesium

Magnesium has various functions within the body. It’s needed for energy and muscles, for nervous system regulation, forming proteins, and maintaining bones and genes. You can learn more about magnesium and the best food sources of magnesium here.

If you’re deficient or want to keep your levels topped up, especially if you don’t eat or absorb magnesium-rich foods, then you might want to consider supplementing. I’ve previously reviewed and recommended the BetterYou magnesium spray and Floradix liquid magnesium, which I continue to use myself daily.

Floradix at Boots UK / Floradix Liquid Magnesium at Amazon UK / Floradix range at Amazon US

My hand holding the Floradix Magnesium box against a leafy tree background.

Get Your Thyroid Checked

Thyroid problems can be notoriously challenging to diagnose and treat. Far far too many people struggle in the UK with getting the tests required for initial diagnosis, let alone suitable treatment. 

In winter, as your body needs more resources to keep itself warm and well, you may find your thyroid needs a little more support. If you’re concerned, see your GP or book a telephone consultation.

If you’re not able to get the tests you need, you may want to consider home testing as an option. Check out my review of the Medichecks Thyroid testing for my thoughts. You can save 10% on your blood test order at Medichecks by using this link & the code INVISME10 at the checkout.

Vitamin D 

This is a key consideration for any winter health MOT. Even without grey days and the sun hibernating, many people can be deficient in Vitamin D to some degree. It’s a surprisingly important vitamin that many specialists recommend topping up daily with supplements, especially in the winter months. It’s vital for the healthy functioning of the body, from supporting your bones and muscles, to supporting your cardiovascular, respiratory and autoimmune systems. 

Some studies are even suggesting a link between Vitamin D and coronavirus, indicating the potential for this so-called sunshine vitamin to have protective properties.

Unfortunately, Vitamin D is often overlooked and under-appreciated. It doesn’t typically get included in routine screenings, so you’ll need to ask for a specific Vit D blood test to get your levels checked.

You can learn more about why Vitamin D is important here, where you’ll also find supplement recommendations.

Boost Dairy 

Milk and dairy products can be great sources of Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, protein and calcium to support our bones, cells and immune system. This won’t be possible for everyone, but if you can, try to boost your consumption of milk and dairy products, whether it’s a little more cheese (cheese toastie, anyone?), yoghurt or a simple glass of semi-skimmed milk each day. 

A blue background with a close up of a glass of milk, with milk being poured in from above.

Ear Health

If you’re finding hearing to be a struggle, it might be time to get a hearing test. If you’re experiencing tinnitus, soreness or discomfort, don’t put off speaking to your doctor. 

If you think there’s a general wax build up, you could try a few drops of olive oil each day at home first, then see your GP if things don’t clear up in a week or two. In the UK, the NHS will typically no longer offer ear wax removal but if there’s a lot of pain, they could check for an infection. Otherwise, you could consider a professional clinic for safe wax removal.

Blood Pressure Check

It’s always a good idea to get your blood pressure checked. It’s often done routinely at your GP practice, especially if you’re taking or changing medications. You can also get a home blood pressure monitor, allowing you to keep a closer eye your BP. This may be particularly important in the winter months and if you’re shielding, where diets might change and you may be getting less exercise at home.

A birds eye view of a grey table with a medical chart on it and a patient's arm stretched out as the doctor inflates a blood pressure cuff.

Cholesterol

There’s good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol. High bad cholesterol means you’ve got too much cholesterol, a fatty substance, in your blood. Over time, this can build up and block blood vessels, making you more susceptible to the likes of strokes and heart problems.

The only way to check your cholesterol is through having a blood specific test to check your cholesterol levels. If you’re unsure what your cholesterol is like, ask you doctor if they’ll check it for you. 

Basic Bloods

An all-rounder blood test can pick up on a range of things. If it’s been a while, or you have any concerns about feeling off from your usual ‘baseline’, ask for a blood test for the basics, including B12. 

Multitasking Multivitamins

Multi-vitamins can be a convenient way to supplement a balanced diet and give your body a little extra support in winter when it needs it. If you’re supplementing anything else in particular, such as vitamin C or magnesium, make sure you’re not doubling up or going over the recommended dose. 

Vitamin C Goodness

Perk up your immune system with Vitamin C. It can be found in different foods and drinks, not just actual oranges. I’m a fan of Del Monte orange juice ice-lollies and Ribena drinks. 

You can also get affordable supplements. I use Nature’s Aid Vitamin C chewables in the UK. They’re suitable for vegans, sugar free, taste delicious and have a decent 500mg strength. There are various Vitamin C supplements on Amazon and elsewhere of different strengths and types to suits all needs.

Diet Check-Up

A colourful diet is always recommended, but when it’s colder or we’re exhausted, it’s easy to fall into not eating well or reaching for comfort foods more often. To keep the chill off, try warming meals with winter veggies like swede, carrots and parsnips.

For snacks and other meals, don’t forget that fruit juice drinks and smoothies can count towards one a day (check the packaging), as can tinned fruit and frozen vegetables. 

A photograph of a pot of stew on the hob with a ladle in it.

Mind The Step

For those that are mobile and able to walk, how many steps are you getting? Fitness trackers can help you monitor how close you are to the recommended 10,000 steps each day while keeping you motivated.

However, many people, especially in the chronic illness/pain community or during the pandemic, are not going to get that many steps in, at least not consistently. Instead, just be mindful of needing to stretch your legs more often.

If you’re like me, you might be finding yourself constantly cleaning every product that comes into the home, going through all of your shopping with an antibacterial wipe before putting it away, then going around the house with an antibacterial spray each day to keep things Covid-free. That counts as movement. General cleaning and tidying around the house can count as exercise, too. 

Get in a few extra steps or general movement here and there, because every little helps.

Flu Vaccine 

It’s a personal decision, but the general advice is to get a flu vaccine if you’re eligible or if you feel you could benefit from it. Now’s the time to get one booked. In the UK, having certain conditions may mean you’re eligible for a free jab, otherwise it’ll be a small fee. Boots charge £13.99 for a flu jab, and you can book online. Speak to your GP practice or local pharmacy about getting a vaccination, and ask what PPE and Covid precautions they have in place if you’re concerned about safety.

A black scroll divider.

How do you support your winter health? Do you need book any check-ups and tests, or restock your supplements for the upcoming months?

Caz   ♥

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52 comments

johnrieber November 13, 2020 - 4:25 pm

Terrific list and advice! More important to be healthy now more than ever!

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 3:52 pm

Absolutely, I agree. Thanks, John – take good care of yourself! x

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Looking for the Light November 13, 2020 - 4:25 pm

How are you today, lovey?????? You sound on top of things. I stayed up late not able to sleep thinking about a similar post. It’s the time of year as with every season to do a check. And with a lockdown you have to stay on top of your supplies. Thinking fo you.

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 3:54 pm

I love that you think I sound on top of things when it couldn’t be further from the truth. Maybe I’m just faking it ’til I make it! Sounds like a case of great minds thinking alike with this sort of post, Mel. Will you still be doing one? I’d love to read it if you do. Thanks for the comment lovely. I hope you’re having a restful weekend.xx

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foodzesty November 13, 2020 - 4:57 pm

Once again a great posttt dear friend!! 🙂 Sending you hugeee hugssss

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 3:55 pm

Thanks, Sophie, I’m glad you liked it! Take good care of yourself ???? xx

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Sandee November 13, 2020 - 5:43 pm

You always give such great advice. I do most of this, but not all. Thank you for the heads up.

Have a fabulous day and weekend, Caz. ♥

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 4:03 pm

I’m glad you’re already on top of some of these things. I prefer the approach of every little helps anyway, we can only do our best. You have a lovely weekend too, Sandee! xx

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Blogging_with_Bojana November 13, 2020 - 5:59 pm

At first I wanted to get the flu vaccine. Now I’m not so sure but as time goes by, I don’t think so.
Had my thyroid checked. There was a suspicion, but it’s ok after all. I’m taking my vitamins and supplements on a regular basic so I’m ready for winter. I think.

Take care, dear.

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 4:10 pm

Yeah, the flu jab is a tricky one. My gut wants to say ‘go get one, it’s the sensible thing to do’, and yet once you have a negative experience yourself it really changes how you see it. I’ve skipped mine this year. I’m glad your thyroid was okay, though I’d say if you’re still concerned to look into it a bit more. Hypothyroidism is notoriously difficult when it comes to diagnosis as there are different levels in different countries, and docs often only test TSH and nothing else, so it’s not reliable. Getting on top of the vits & supplements sounds like a good plan though. Stay warm & as well as possible, B  ♥

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Nisha November 13, 2020 - 7:02 pm

Great advice for the winter months , this time around we need to be extra cautious . Love all these tips!

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 4:14 pm

I’m glad you liked the post, Nisha! I agree, it’s time for being extra cautious and mindful, and every little helps in taking care of our health. Thanks lovely – I hope the week ahead is a good one for you xx

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Masha November 13, 2020 - 7:28 pm

Great list to follow, and yes now more than ever it’s important to keep yourself healthy. Have a wonderful weekend. <3

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 4:21 pm

Absolutely agree, Masha. I’m really pleased you liked the post, thank you. Take good care of yourself & have a good week ahead lovely xx

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Terri, Reclaiming Hope November 13, 2020 - 8:19 pm

Another great post Caz! This is the perfect time to take stock of where we are with our health, especially with winter coming. I don’t know about you, but once the weather gets cold I don’t like to go out unless I have to. Making sure I’m stocked up on the basics helps me avoid going out in the cold weather. I got my flu shot last month. When we were at my parents’ on Saturday, my Mom was telling the story of the time I was home on leave and everyone in the family got sick with the flu — except for me, because I had had my flu shot. Hope you’re staying safe and as well as possible sweet friend. Hugs!

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 5:32 pm

You’re right, it’s a time for hibernating even without the pandemic so it’s good to think about how we can stock up on what we need, review where we’re at, and look at the ways we can support our immune systems and so on. Aww, I’m glad you didn’t get the flu with your flu shot – do your family get a shot now after that year?
Thank you for sharing your thoughts lovely, take good care of yourself ???? xx

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Sam November 13, 2020 - 9:01 pm

This is a fantastic list Caz for anytime of the year. It’s Spring here in Australia and I’m going through a very similar MOT. I take Vit D supplies as I’m deficient and my recent blood tests showed my Vit D levels are still falling despite my supplements. My Specialist has increased my Supplement and we’ll continue to monitor but your post highlights so well the importance of keeping on top of these things. Love it xx

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Gemma November 13, 2020 - 10:39 pm

It may sound shocking, but this is something I haven’t really thought about doing before. Your post has definitely made me think it’s something I should do though because, like you say, it’s more important now than ever! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and advice Caz.

Gemma x

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 5:35 pm

That’s not shocking at all, don’t worry. I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of people, I guess most of us unless we have something happen that makes us more aware of the need to go through things like this and take stock of our health. It’s definitely a good idea to have a think about the ways you can better support your body & immune system because every little helps. I’m really glad you liked the post, so thank you for commenting, Gemma! Take good care & have a great week ahead ???? x

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Gemma November 16, 2020 - 9:49 am

That is very true. Thanks for reassuring me! I definitely agree. Thanks, you too x

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Roses from Briar November 14, 2020 - 12:53 am

Thanks for the reminder Caz. I have stocked away in my cabinet, drawer, and closet every supplement known to man, but I end up not taking them ,

Hmm, that’s not going to do me any good, is it? You are like a notification chime on my phone, and I will plan on listening to your good advice! ????

❤ Tish

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 11:13 pm

Aw that sounds like me, Tish! I’ve struggled to get into a routine with supplements because of ending up with quite a few on top of prescriptions. I don’t have the time, or the ability to always take them when I intend on it because of not being well. I have a 7 day pill box which is good for organising – do you have anything like that? I’ve also found a plain old chart mocked up on the computer and printed off is quite helpful, then you can tick off what you’ve taken each day & avoid the whole ‘did I take that one earlier?’ problem!

Thank you for the great comment – I hope you can get through some of those supplements this winter! xx

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Despite Pain November 14, 2020 - 8:43 am

Great reminders, Caz, but you made me want a cheese toastie and it’s only 8.40am.

I actually love winter food. I eat lots of home made soups and casseroles full of good nourishment. But, like you say, a top up with some supplements is a great idea at this time of year. I have lots of vitamin C in my cupboard, but I should really get a good multivitamin.

Oh, that cheese toastie is playing on my mind now. I think I’ll forget the porridge this morning and make a toastie instead. Maybe not a healthy breakfast, but you did tell me to increase my dairy.

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Catherine Green November 14, 2020 - 9:37 am

Great suggestions, thank you! I just recently had a chat with my mum friends about taking Vitamin D as a few of them suffer from SAD and were seeking ways to ease it.

I personally am embracing my Reiki energy healing and meditation practice to feel better mentally and emotionally. I can more easily switch off the news and don’t feel as bad about my chronic pain condition. I am @GoldstoneReiki if anyone is interested ????

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 5:46 pm

Catherine – I’m sorry your mum’s friends struggle with SAD. It can’t be an easy thing to manage. I hope Vitamin D can help, even if it’s just something to work in the background for their overall health. I’m following you now on Insta ???? xx

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 5:39 pm

Mmmm cheese toasties. Just thinking about them conjures the smell, doesn’t it? I hope you got yourself one! Winter makes comfort foods a lot more appealing so if we can find the ‘healthier’ options and supplement on top then we’re doing the best we can. It all adds up. I’ve got lots of Vitamin C too; ever since I found nice tasting chewables I’ve been getting through a lot of them! I’ve bought my parents the Boots multivitamins before (£2.99 or so) as they’re pretty decent, though you can get the 99p ones in there as well and they’re always on 3for2. I use their effervescent multivits. Hope you can find one you like at a good price, Liz. And stock up on cheese for the toasties! ???? xx

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doublegenealogytheadoptionwitness November 14, 2020 - 2:18 pm

Very timely pointers.

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 5:47 pm

Thank you – I hope it can be a useful reminder for people to slow down & take stock of their health ????

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Michelle Curtis November 14, 2020 - 2:25 pm

These are some great suggestions for looking out for our health, Caz! I recently started drinking lactose free whole milk and MCT oil and I’m amazed that it really seems to be helping my brain fog. We often underestimate how important healthy fats are to brain health. It’s also helping me lose some pounds after my struggles with long covid. Everything you mentioned is very important to our health and can help clear up some nagging symptoms. Thanks for the tips!

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 6:47 pm

An excellent point about healthy fats. There’s such a focus on losing weight, going sugar free and calorie free that ‘fats’ generally get misunderstood and forgotten about, which is pretty dangerous. I’m glad the milk & oil seem to be helping the brain fog a bit, it’s amazing for anything to shift that even a teeny bit so every little helps! xx

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LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW: Perspective on Trauma November 14, 2020 - 3:07 pm

This is a solid list. Thank you for putting it together and sharing these resources. Very helpful.

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 6:55 pm

I’m really pleased you liked the post. Thank you – take good care of yourself & have a great week ahead!

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D. Wallace Peach November 14, 2020 - 4:41 pm

Great list. I’ve actually done all of these except for the increased dairy and hearing test. This is a good time to make sure the immune system has all the support it can get. Stay healthy and stay safe. 🙂

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 10:41 pm

It’s great you’re already doing various things & keeping on top of your health. A little more dairy could be good perhaps if you’re okay eating/drinking it – it’s a good excuse for milk & cookies, cheese toasties or nightly ice-cream! ????

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Svet Pavlovsky November 14, 2020 - 9:50 pm

Those are great tips, Caz! I also read about the importance of Vitamin C consumption for better immune system. I hope you are having a good weekend.

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 10:46 pm

Thanks, Svet. Hopefully these can be helpful for someone, or just a reminder to take stock of where we’re at with our health. Vit C is definitely an important one, and luckily it’s fairly widely available in food/drink and as a cheap supplement. Thanks for the comment lovely. I hope the week ahead treats you kindly xx

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James Viscosi November 14, 2020 - 10:23 pm

Flu vaccine, check. Vitamin D, check. Sticking with the exercising, check. Vitamin C, I can’t megadose on that, it’s implicated in kidney stone formation and I sure don’t want any more of those. And blood pressure monitoring? After that incident with the cerebral aneurysm, oh, you betcha I’m staying on top of that!

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 10:48 pm

You’re already on top of it all, James! I think that deserves some kind of medal. Did they not give you a shiny gold star after your aneurysm? I think it’s a shame as adults we don’t get that after coming out of hospital or having an operation. I miss the stickers you’d get after a dental visit but I think I’d be more inclined to get my vaccines and take my supplements if I got a sticker afterwards. It’s like the equivalent of a treat for the kittykats after having their flea drops! x

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Michele Anderson November 15, 2020 - 1:19 am

Hi, Caz 🙂 Great advice to get us all through these winter months. Thank you!

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 10:50 pm

You’re welcome, I hope you liked the post. Thanks, Michele! Take good care of yourself  ♥ xx

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Claire November 15, 2020 - 4:53 pm

Great post Caz! I’ve been making sure to take my vitamin D this year given that I’ve been at home in shielding. But also important every year during the winter!

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 10:53 pm

I’m glad you’re already ticking off the Vitamin D, Claire. It’s worthwhile at the best of times but all the more so with so many shielding or just generally getting less time outdoors this year. Stay safe & well lovely ???? xx

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notesoflifeuk November 15, 2020 - 10:35 pm

Thanks for the reminder! I need to get a thyroid test booked.

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InvisiblyMe November 15, 2020 - 11:00 pm

You’re welcome, I hope you liked the post. Thyroid conditions can be so hard to diagnose, and it doesn’t help when doctors don’t fully recognise the need for tests other than TSH and patients are constrained by ‘normal’ level regulations that differ between countries. I hope your test goes as well as possible when you get it. Thanks for the comment ????

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Mrs. Ram’s Jams November 16, 2020 - 12:14 am

Yes! Great list!

My doctor gave me a pneumonia vaccine this year too, which I didn’t even know existed . . . but apparently it’s recommend when taking biologics for IBD?

Who knew?

????

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InvisiblyMe November 16, 2020 - 5:24 pm

You really do learn something new everyday! I hadn’t realised the recommendation for biologics with IBD but I did know about the pneumonia vaccine. It’s a one-off, which is quite good rather than having it every year. I would say I hope it helps but it’s the sort of thing where you don’t want to actually find out if it does indeed work! xx

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Stacey Chapman November 16, 2020 - 1:46 pm

Caz, what’s a MOT?
Regardless, great article with good advice. I’m reading multiple articles about the dangerous side effect Covid is having on people not keeping up with their overall health and screenings. So I think your post and advice is spot on. While I know the thought of getting Covid is frightening and going to Doctors offices or hospitals for regular screenings can be nerve wracking, keeping our bodies in good overall health has never been more important! ❤️

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InvisiblyMe November 16, 2020 - 5:28 pm

Hahaha ooops, I should have thought about the fact that MOT might not translate across the ocean! MOT is basically a check up for a motor/car. If you say your computer or your own body needs an MOT, it’s a casual way of saying check up.

I’m really pleased you liked the article, thanks, Stace! It’s very worrying with so many missing necessary check-ups, or trying to ignore and delay having troubling symptoms looked at. Some doctors and hospitals need to do more to re-assure patients, and I say that from experience. They have the ability to think outside the box and wear the PPE the have to keep patients safe, but people are more put off when they don’t think they’ll be doing those things (because unfortunately not all of them do!) It’s a good time to do what we can to look after ourselves and make sure our loved ones are getting the checks they need too. xx

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chronicmom November 16, 2020 - 7:53 pm

Great list. I got my flu shot and soon as I could, I do not want to mess with the flu this year.

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forresting365 November 17, 2020 - 12:17 pm

This is a great post, Caz! Thank You! I had a great laugh at the beginning as I am a bit of a dinousaur…had to truly ponder what MOT meant, God help me! I figured it out! ???? Moment of Time?!! Right? ???? These are all such great suggestions and I truly appreciated the section on Magnesium and Your link. Just started taking that and thinking about it a few months ago. I’ll look at Your food source link. Thanks again for All! Sending You huge hugs and Much Love!!! ????❤️????

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InvisiblyMe November 29, 2020 - 4:33 pm

Hahah I realised after posting this that many people probably didn’t have a clue what I meant by MOT, oops! So yes, a car check but for people ???? Magnesium is so often overlooked, just as Vit D was before covid. I hope you can boost your levels and hopefully feel the benefit, but it’s a good one just to work behind the scenes and keep things ticking along healthily. I’m really glad you liked the post, thanks, Katy! Sending hugs right back at-cha ???? xx

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englishwithkirsty December 1, 2020 - 6:06 pm

Now I know that my cheese advent calendar is a step towards looking after my health in winter! Fabulous ????????

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