Top 10 tips to stay mentally and physically healthy on lock-down
Coronavirus is bringing a halt to normal everyday life, and we all need to adjust to keep our physical and mental wellbeing in check. It can be very easy to put our overall health and fitness on the backburner in times like this, however you can choose to make this an opportunity to harness your health goals and mental resilience instead. The good news is there are plenty of ways to stay on track and remain positive!
1) Keep your mind busy
Possibilities are endless when it comes to hobbies and personal learning, so make this a time to develop your skills and do things you enjoy. There are plenty of online courses you can do so maybe it is time to learn a language, develop work-related skills or even start a longer-term course to gain new accreditations. On the other hand, you can fully partake in new or existing hobbies, such as playing an instrument, cooking, knitting or reading.
2) Manage stress
Managing stress simply starts with checking on yourself. Notice how you are feeling and be aware of the specific reasons behind your stress and anxiety. Perhaps you are worried about your relatives, your own health, the idea of confinement or simply the overall uncertainty. Whatever it is, identifying your stresses helps you to take actions to make you feel more in control and mitigate the potential negative outcomes. Additionally, find ways to relax on a regular basis, for instance by meditating, taking a bath and doing some breathing exercises.
3) Focus on what you CAN do
Social distancing can be frustrating, and it is natural behaviour to focus on what we cannot do. This however brings a sense of helplessness, which can in turn aggravate any feelings of anxiety and stress. Focus on what you can do. There are plenty of things that can be done from home to keep us occupied and happy. You have been given the gift of time, so use it wisely to do what you enjoy and pick up on things you may not have had the time to do before.
4) Keep a routine
While our first response to being stuck at home may be to lie in and laze around the house, it is counter-productive when it comes to our well-being in the longer term. Having a lazy day is fine, however making a habit of getting up late, not getting dressed and watching too much TV can significantly affect our health. Make a point of keeping a routine, getting up and dressed at a reasonable time, occupying our minds with more intellectual activities and keeping fit with regular exercise.
5) Limit social media
Sitting on the couch and scrolling through social media may be all too tempting in such times. However, spending hours on social media is detrimental to our mental health and may in fact bring more confusion concerning the current news. Limit your time on social media to a few minutes in the morning and evening to avoid getting overwhelmed. Additionally, steer away from negative news by only watching or reading essential information and focusing on positive stories.
6) Avoid panic-related behaviours
Instinctively, we are influenced by people and our environment to make decisions and act in a certain way. This herd mentality means we are highly likely to mimic behaviours associated with panicking. We need to continuously question whether we are making decisions on an emotional basis rather than rational reasons. Endeavor to remain calm and keep making logical decisions rather than let others’ behaviours like fear spreading and panic buying make you feel as though you need to do the same.
7) Stay connected
As much as you should aim to reduce your overall screen time, the one thing you should prioritise when it comes to using technology is staying connected with family and friends. Social distancing means we may feel low and miss being with other people, so staying in touch with people and keeping conversation going in essential to keep our spirits up. Keep messages and chats going, and plan some phone calls and video calls to feel less isolated and support your loved ones.
8) Eat healthy
Boredom and stress are key triggers for snacking, eating unhealthy foods and over-eating. Therefore, it is crucial that we keep an eye on our food intake and strive to eat well-balanced healthy meals. Keeping hydrated is also important, so aim to drink at least the NHS recommendation of eight glasses of water per day. Avoid buying junk food and choose foods that help support your immune system such as citrus fruit, green vegetables, ginger, garlic and almonds. You can take this opportunity to be more organised with meals and enjoy healthier foods than what your typical restaurant or pub would offer.
9) Keep moving
Making a point of staying active is essential to manage both your physical and mental health. Not only will working out make you stay on track with your fitness goals, it will also improve your mood, give you a sense of achievement, keep you sane, and reduce your stress and anxiety levels. You can begin a home exercise routine with the help of online tutorials and workout videos, or workout outdoors given you keep your distance with other people (at least 2 meters). Whatever you do, now is not the time to give up. Push through to avoid making your return to normal exercise more difficult.
10) Get some fresh air
Isolation may be psychologically challenging and can have a profound effect on our brains and bodies. The feeling of seclusion can lead to anxiety and even panic attacks, particularly if we are being confined to the same space. Therefore, it is essential to get some fresh air and catch some natural sunlight to maintain our mental wellbeing. Spend some time outdoors either in your garden, by opening windows and doors for some fresh air, and by getting some exercise walking, cycling or running outside while keeping your distance with other people.