With the threat of a second lockdown looming over us, many of us are understandably worried about what this might mean for our health.
If we do have to start staying home again, there are some easy ways to look after both our mental and physical wellbeing.
Even at the height of the first lockdown, we were still able to go out for exercise once a day. Aim to get outside daily, even if it’s just for a short walk. Exercise not only improves cardiovascular health but is also said to improve your mood and reduce stress. This is because exercise releases endorphins, as well as improving the quality of your sleep.
Exposure to sunlight is also said to increase your serotonin levels. Therefore getting outside regularly is key to managing stress and boosting your mood.
A healthy balanced diet is arguably one of the most important factors for good health. A balanced diet should include a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. You should try to limit salt, sugar and saturated fats. A healthy diet can not only help you to maintain your weight, but it also keeps you energised and can improve your mood.
When you’re stuck at home, it’s easy to reach for unhealthy, processed snacks. At Snackcess, we want to simplify healthy living by making it easy to snack well. Our boxes of healthy snacks are high in protein and fibre, which can help keep you fuller for longer and stop you reaching for unhealthy alternatives.
Separate Your Work and Personal Life for Your Mental Health
If you’re working from home, it’s easy to let your work stress carry over into the rest of your life, which can massively impact our mental health. If you can, define your working hours and breaks, and don’t return to your desk until you’re working again. It might also help to close the door to the room you work in if you can, or put away your laptop so you aren’t tempted to look.
Stay in Touch with Friends and Family
We all know how lonely lockdown can get, and this can be detrimental for our mental health. Try to arrange regular video or phone calls to stay connected. Planning virtual activities like zoom quizzes can help to break up the monotony of regular calls and provide a substitute for other activities you’d do if you could meet up.
Have a Sleep Schedule
Aim for 8 hours a night, and try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Lack of sleep can be detrimental to both your physical and mental health. After a poor night’s sleep, you may struggle to concentrate, eat more, and see a decline in your mood and ability to manage stress. In the first lockdown, many people struggled to sleep due to stress and a lack of physical activity. If you do struggle to sleep, you might find it helpful to reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake, reduce artificial light and improve your sleep environment.
Aim for at least 2 litres of water a day. Staying well hydrated has a variety of health benefits, from improving memory and mood to reducing food cravings. Research suggests that even mild dehydration can make it harder for you to manage your stress. Given that in lockdown 57% of Brits were exhibiting signs of anxiety, drinking enough water may help you to improve your mental health.
Quit Smoking for Immediate Health Benefits
As smokers touch their face and mouth more, they are at greater risk of catching COVID-19. Further to this, smoking affects the lungs and therefore increases the risk of developing complications or getting more severely ill. If you smoke, now would be a perfect time to stop. By stopping smoking, you are not only reducing your risk of developing cancer and other serious conditions in the future, but you can also improve your health in the short term.
Within 8 hours of quitting, your oxygen levels will begin returning to normal, and within 72 hours your sense of taste and smell will have improved, breathing will feel easier and your energy levels will be increasing.
If you need help stopping, Stoptober is about to begin.
Mindfulness for Mental Health
Mindfulness is the practice of ‘knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.’
Put simply, it is a common type of meditation that focuses on drawing attention to how we feel and think. It involves reconnecting with your body and being truly present in whatever it is you’re doing.
Mindfulness can improve mental health by reducing anxiety and improving your mood. It is also said to have physical benefits, such as reduced pain.
If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness, Wellbeing in Your Office have more detailed information, and offer mindfulness classes, workshops, talks and courses for your workplace.