In view of the coronavirus pandemic, most of us are required to stay indoors and only leave the house for shopping, outdoor exercise, medical needs and travel to and from work (if considered a key worker).
This change in routine has left some people in unfamiliar territory and feeling a bit lost – especially when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This feeling is completely normal as we are currently living in unprecedented times and we haven’t experienced a global pandemic like this before!
I thought I would provide 10 top tips you can implement to help you look after your physical and mental wellbeing during this lockdown.
1. Take care of your mental health.
Even though it is important to keep up to date with information regarding Covid-19; it can be so easy to become wrapped up by it. Continuously listen to the news and reading articles about the pandemic may increase feelings of anxiety and stress.
Giving yourself breaks from the news and social media, practising meditation, doing something creative or speaking to your family and friends on the phone might help alleviate these feelings.
It is also worth checking out resources provided by the NHS, Mind and Mental Health Foundation on how to manage stress and anxiety. If you think you are unable to manage your stress levels – please speak to your family and friends about this. As well as this, seek advice from your GP/Doctor.
2. Stay active.
Find fun ways to be active indoors and outdoors (as long as you are maintaining social distancing). Any activity is better than none, and more is better still! You can search for home fitness challenges online or try out a new exercise routine on Youtube. You can also take a nice brisk walk around your garden or local park.
The NHS recommended that UK adults do:
- at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week
- reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity.
- do strengthening activities that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on at least 2 days a week
Examples of moderate physical activities include:
- brisk walking
- riding a bike
- doubles tennis
- pushing a lawnmower
Examples of vigorous physical activities include:
- jogging or running
- riding a bike fast or on hills
- walking up the stairs
- skipping rope
3. Keep your environment clean and ensure good personal hygiene.
Continue to follow personal hygiene advice from the National Health Service (NHS) and World Health Organisation (WHO).
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based rub and clean; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth; make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately and wash your hands.
In addition, clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched like sinks and toilets.
4. Always stay hydrated.
Good hydration is important for our general health. The NHS recommends that we drink 6-8 glasses of fluid to prevent dehydration.
However, some individuals may need to drink more if they have an infection or high temperature.
Water, milk, 150ml glass of unsweetened fruit juice, vegetable juice & smoothie, decaf coffee & tea and sugar-free drinks count towards your fluid intake.
5. Have a healthy and varied diet
Including a variety of foods in your diet from the 5 main food groups (fruit & veg, starchy carbohydrates, meat & other proteins, dairy & alternatives, oil & spreads) can provide your body with key nutrients like selenium, vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, folic acid and zinc to support immune function. I posted an infographic on my Instagram on foods that are great sources of nutrients that are essential for the immune system.
You can also check out information on the Eatwell Guide to help inform you make healthier eating choices and ensure you are getting the right balance throughout the week.
6. Be creative with what you have.
You don’t need to panic buy to eat well nor do you have to break the bank. Find out what’s already in your kitchen, and then plan around these food items to create healthy & nutritious meals. You can search for easy, quick and healthy recipes online using ingredients that you already have like on BBC Good Food or Super Cook. You can also find various ways to eat healthy on a budget.
7. Reduce intake of snacks that are high in fat, sugar and salt.
Snacks can be a good source of energy, vitamins, minerals & fibre. On the downside, some snack foods can be high in fat, sugar and salt, so choose carefully and keep portion sizes sensible.
Choose snacks from the main food groups, try to vary which group throughout the week: fruit & veg, carbohydrates, protein, dairy and non-dairy foods. Further information on healthy snack options can be found on the British Dietetic Association website: http://www.bda.uk.com/resource/healthy-snacks.
8. Sleep well.
Most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep every night. By working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule.
If you are experiencing insomnia, please seek advice from a health professional. You can also check out apps on the NHS Apps library designed to help with sleep.
9. Limit alcohol intake.
It was reported that a lot of people stocked up on alcohol due to the closure of pubs and restaurants. When the lockdown measure was implemented, alcohol sales in supermarkets and corner shops jumped by 22% in March, according to consumer analysts Kantar. Figures for the whole of April and May are likely to be much higher.
It is recommended that UK men and women drink no more than 14 units a week. Regular and excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a range of health, mental and social issues.
If you drink alcohol, it’s ideal to spread your units evenly over 3 days or more – don’t ‘save up’ your units for a particular day. Try to aim for at least 2-3 alcohol-free days. Some practical ways to reduce alcohol consumption is to go for smaller sizes – for instance, instead of having a large glass of wine, they can have a small glass instead.
You can also consider different drink options; instead of having an alcoholic drink with strong strength (ABV in %), opt to have a non-alcoholic drink or low-alcoholic drink instead. You can also stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water, juices, and smoothies instead which are healthier alternatives.
You can check out the Drinkaware website for further alcohol advice, information and tools to help you make better choices about drinking.
10. Take a daily supplement containing 10mcg (400IU) vitamin D
We get most of our Vitamin D from the sunlight but as most of us are staying indoors we may have low or no exposure to the sun. Thus, taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (mcg) of 400IU of vitamin D is essential to ensure adequate vitamin D levels. Individuals who are at risk of vitamin D deficiency are required to take a vitamin D supplement all year round: these include people who have darker skin tones (for example people from an African, African-Caribbean or South Asian background), people who often stay indoors, and people who usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoor
Having said this, there are foods that are good sources of vitamin D that can be included in diet such as:
- oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
- red meat
- egg yolks
- fortified foods – such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereals