Nobody could have anticipated that we would be starting 2021 still struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel while trying to juggle homeschooling and working from the kitchen table.
The pandemic has been incredibly challenging, not least when it comes to trying to focus on health and wellbeing. In this guide, we’ll explore some effective ways to stay safe and sane.
Exercise and open air
The Covid-19 crisis triggered a sharp increase in home workouts and sales of gym equipment and activewear, but studies show that most people have been less active during lockdowns. Exercise is beneficial for a raft of reasons, and it’s essential for good physical and mental health.
If you’re not an active person, aiming to exercise on a regular basis will have a positive impact on your mood, as well as your physical wellbeing. You don’t have to spend your life doing sit-ups or mastering the complex yoga moves you see on social media feeds. Simple things like going for a walk or a jog every day, taking your bike out or doing a 20-minute workout in your living room can make all the difference.
Try and schedule physical activity daily and include it in your routine. Exercise builds strength and stamina, it reduces the risk of illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and it makes you feel uplifted and energised. When your body is moving, endorphins are released and the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain increase. This is why you feel great after a workout. It’s also beneficial to get fresh air, especially if you’re working from home. Take regular breaks, get out into the open and enjoy a few minutes away from your desk.
Personal hygiene and cleanliness
For months now, we have been hearing about the importance of washing our hands, cleaning surfaces in our homes and disposing of used tissues. Personal hygiene has always been crucial, but the pandemic has underlined the importance of sticking to simple rules to reduce risks and create a clean, healthy home environment. You can click here to find out more about the benefits of good personal hygiene and cleanliness.
If you don’t already have supplies of hand sanitiser and hand wash at home, now is the time to invest and to make it your mission to keep on top of hand washing and cleaning. This is not just beneficial for Covid-19. It will also help to reduce the risk of spreading coughs and colds and other illnesses.
Your diet plays an integral role in maintaining good health. If you have a healthy, balanced diet, your body will get all the nutrients it needs to function effectively. At this time of year, we tend to read or hear about dieting to lose weight rather than enhancing our diets to provide better nutrition. Whether you’re looking to lose weight or improve your health, it’s advisable to focus on nutrition and create a menu that is packed with vitamins and minerals and foods that offer benefits for the body and mind.
Avoid fad diets and embrace healthy eating as a long-term lifestyle change. If you’re not a maestro in the kitchen, search online for simple, quick, healthy recipes or follow a healthy eating plan. It’s useful to use an app to monitor what you eat. This way, you can see if you’re hitting daily targets for protein, fibre, and vitamins, as well as keeping an eye on your calorie intake if you’re trying to lose or gain weight. It can be difficult to adapt to a new diet, but your immune system will appreciate.
If you tend to give up easily, or you get bored when trying to follow plans, vary your meals, introduce new ingredients and allow yourself a treat once in a while. Eating well doesn’t have to mean giving up pizza for good or never eating a slick of cake again. There’s nothing wrong with having a doughnut or a burger on a Saturday night if you’ve eaten well all week.
Tackling stress and anxiety
For many people, the pandemic has triggered a rise in stress and anxiety levels. If you find yourself feeling low, you’re stressed out, or you’re worried or anxious, try and tackle the problem head-on. Find time to devote to activities that help you to feel calm, exercise daily, get some fresh air and connect with others.
Limit the amount of time you spend online and avoid consuming content that exacerbates anxiety. It can be difficult to escape the headlines at the moment, but if you find that watching the news or reading social media affects your mood, take some time out. Talking can help you manage your emotions and get things off your chest, but it’s not always easy, especially when you can’t see friends and family. If you find it hard to express yourself, you could try writing down how you feel or using creative hobbies, such as painting or drawing, to help you process thoughts, feelings and emotions.
It’s also critical to realise that there is help available. If you are struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out. There are charities that provide web resources and phone lines, and you can also contact your doctor. Spending time doing things that make you happy is also hugely beneficial during lockdowns and periods of restrictions. From baking and binge-watching a new TV series to going for a bike ride and organising a virtual catch-up with friends, make sure you make time to relax, interact with others and have fun.
There is no doubt that it can be difficult to focus on health and wellbeing when there is so much going on in the world and bad news seems to be coming at us from every angle. As we continue to try and get through the crisis, it’s essential to try and look after yourself and others.
Exercise, eat well, get out and enjoy the fresh air, adopt good personal hygiene practices and take steps to prevent and combat stress.