With the world now a whole year into the global Covid-19 pandemic, and England in its third national lockdown, keeping on top of your mental and physical health has never been more critical.
Our lifestyles and routines have dramatically changed. Access to friends and family is restricted, as are many of the social events we all know and love. Combined with the added pressure of the cold winter days, keeping healthy during lockdown is extremely difficult.
Whether you are an essential worker or currently stuck working from home, there are plenty of small steps you can take to improve your mental and physical wellness.
Create a Routine
Whilst we appreciate that building a routine is difficult in these trying times, it is vitally important for your overall health.
Creating a structure for your day will hugely benefit both your physical and mental health, making each day more productive and enjoyable. This might be as simple as a daily lunchtime walk, or a quick video call with a friend after work.
Especially for those with no access to a private garden, getting outdoors can be extremely difficult.
However, dedicating even a twenty-minute portion of your day to walk around your local area and breath in the fresh air, will dramatically increase both your physical and mental health.
If possible, try to explore some local nature. This might be heading to a local park or woodland. Escaping the urbanised areas can make your walk much more interesting and enjoyable, allowing you to appreciate this time of the day much more.
Getting an adequate amount of water is essential for good all-round health. It is recommended that every adult aim to consume at least two litres of water every single day. Whilst this might initially seem like a lot, you will appreciate the difference it will make to your day once you begin to hit that target regularly.
To prevent using endless amounts of single-use plastic, consider investing in a bottleless water cooler, to provide you with cold, filtered, great-tasting water on demand.
Besides drinking water, eating fruits and vegetables is an incredible way to ensure you stay hydrated. Packed with vitamins and minerals, many fruits are also actually 80% water, making them a delicious way to boost your hydration intake for the day. Concentrate on fruits such as berries and grapes, which are a sweet, tasty snack to enjoy throughout the day.
Over the past twelve months, one way or another, we have all had to develop strategies to help us get through these difficult times. These strategies must complement our lifestyle and help improve our health and happiness.
However, many have reported that their alcohol consumption has dramatically increased, and others have turned back to the cigarettes they ditched years ago. If you find yourself reaching for unhealthy coping mechanisms, consider confiding in a friend, and working together to break habits.
Try to find new hobbies to keep you busy and give yourself something to look forward to.
With gyms now closed, sticking to a regular workout routine can be challenging.
Consider exploring the wealth of free fitness videos online. Ranging from yoga to strength training, to walking workouts enabling you to reach your daily step goal. There are options for every ability level.
This does not mean we are all required to become fitness fanatics overnight, but getting our heart rate up for just a short period will drastically increase overall health.
The NHS recommends conducting 150 minutes of exercise every single week. At first, this figure seems daunting. But when you realise this ranges from walking to the supermarket to skipping in your living room, you can soon rack the minutes up.
Regular exercise makes you feel and look great and can help prevent strokes, diabetes, and anxiety. It is also a fun way to beat the boredom on these long lockdown days.
Nutrition is Key
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is tricky, yet vital during these difficult times.
Focus on getting a selection of at least five fruits and vegetables into your meals each day. These should be alongside various sources of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats.
Lockdown can be viewed as an opportunity to promote a great diet. Make mealtimes a fun experience for the whole household by trying new dishes and cooking techniques. Experiment with different cuisines and recipes; an abundance of which can be found online.
Focus on Sleep
Some adults can happily function on much less sleep than the average person, whereas others struggle to go about their day with less than nine solid hours. Rest is a very personal matter, but aiming for seven hours of good quality sleep per night will make a massive difference to your physical and mental health.
A good night's sleep will improve your concentration and mood, imperative for these long work from home days. A lack of sleep can increase your risk of poor heart health, as well as high blood pressure. A proper sleep pattern is also reported to boost your immune system.
Many people struggle to adapt to a good sleep routine, and a key factor is ‘switching off’ at the same time every day. Take yourself back to childhood and enforce a regular bedtime. With perseverance, this will eventually teach your body that it is time to rest. Try to avoid screens for an hour before bedtime, and take a warm bath to relax your muscles.
Avoid exercise close to bedtime, as it can cause a spike in adrenaline, making sound sleep nearly impossible. Although, some light yoga and stretching have been shown to increase the ease of which you can doze off.
Go Easy on Yourself
The past twelve months have been a tough time for us all. Focusing on our personal health and that of our family should be our priority.
Our stress levels are high, health anxiety is rife, and many are worried about their income. Staying mentally and physically healthy is challenging, and the task should be taken one day at a time.