We are all guilty of falling into unhealthy habits during lockdown like rolling out of bed 10 minutes before logging on, staying inside all day without much physical activity, eating more or less than we usually do or working more or less than we should. As we ease out of lockdown, it is important to start getting back into healthy habits. Many people found the third lockdown challenging as it was winter and so it was more difficult to get outside and be physically active. To mark world health day, we are dedicating our Wellness Wednesday post to things you can do to get back into good, healthy habits as the restrictions lift.
Make small changes to your diet to get back on track
Many of us have slipped into unhealthy eating and drinking habits. It’s easy to skip meals, drink more than we should or snack on unhealthy treats out of boredom when you are at home, but these are bad habits that can affect your concentration, weight, general health and metabolism. Aim to have a balanced diet and don’t forget to include fruit, vegetables and fibre. Our top tips are to plan your meals before you do your weekly food shop, drink plenty of water throughout the day, limit your alcohol intake and make gradual changes over time to ensure it is sustainable, because we all know that crash dieting doesn’t work!
Gradually increase your exercise
It was much harder to get out and be active in the winter months, so many people found that their physical fitness declined a lot during the winter lockdown and it can be difficult to find the motivation to build up fitness levels again. Just a little bit of exercise each day can help keep you at a healthy weight and release endorphins, which are the chemicals that reduce stress and make us feel good after a work-out. Now the government restrictions are easing, and you can meet people outside, why not go for a walk with a friend or go to a COVID-secure outdoor workout class? However, don’t be tempted do too much too fast it as it may lead to an injury. Gradually ease back into a fitness routine over the next few months.
Get a good night’s sleep
Make sure you are getting your 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night. It’s easy to get into an unhealthy routine by going to bed later that you would have done before lockdown, but that is not good for your mental or physical health. Some people need more sleep than others, so make sure that you listen to your body. By getting your recommended amount of sleep, you will boost your immune system and it’s scientifically proven to make you happier.
Even though the restrictions are easing, it’s still important that we remain mindful of preventing the spread of COVID-19. You should still maintain a social distance of 1m between you and anyone not in your household to minimise the potential risk of spreading the infection. Carry on washing your hands thoroughly and using hand sanitiser in public spaces. It is great that lockdown restrictions are easing and that we’ll soon be able to get a haircut, go to the gym and the pub, but we need to still be careful and follow the government advice because the last thing any of us want is yet another lockdown!
Talk to your loved ones
Being physically away from people can affect us mentally, so make sure you keep in contact with your friends and family. This could be scheduling a weekly video call, even setting up a WhatsApp group or going for a walk to check in every now and then. Talk about how you’re feeling and listen to your loved ones to see if there are any ways you can help them.
It’s ok to have bad days
The pandemic has really highlighted the importance of mental health, so don’t feel bad if you’re not having the best day. Make sure you talk to your loved ones about how you’re feeling and seek medical advice when you need it. Being stuck inside can give you a bit of cabin fever so it will affect everyone in different ways physically and mentally. Remember to be kind to yourself and take each day as it comes.
We offer Mental Health First Aid courses at Marshall Centre, where we train people to act as a point of contact and reassurance for anyone experiencing personal problems that may impact them at work. Mental Health First Aiders are friendly face, fully trained to listen without judgement, hold supportive conversations, offer guidance and signpost further support. If you’re interested in finding out more, click here.