8 top tips to help you stay healthy in lockdown
With the nation plunged back into lockdown, many people are worried about the impact the restrictions will have on their physical and mental health. As restrictions continue and we head into winter, with all the added problems of cold and flu viruses, it’s more important than ever to find ways to stay healthy in lockdown – even if lockdown changes slightly after 2nd December and over Christmas!
Although the Government has now released details of the UK-wide relaxations over the Christmas period, which have been widely welcomed, many people are surprised and concerned that most of the country will still face the restrictions of Tiers 2 and 3 when England’s current national lockdown restrictions are eased on 2nd December. Only Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly are placed in the lowest Tier 1 category with 41.5 per cent of the population still facing the severe restrictions of Tier 3. Essex, including the unitary authorities of Southend and Thurrock, together with most of East Anglia, will be in Tier 2.
There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our way of life. From working at home to socialising virtually, rather than face-to-face, there are many changes we’ve had to embrace. For many people, the closure of gyms, fitness clubs and leisure centres has severely impacted their health and fitness plans.
However, there are ways you can enhance your health while you are at home. If you want to keep yourself well during the ongoing lockdown restrictions, take a look at the following 8 top tips to help you stay healthy in lockdown.
1. Spend Time Outdoors
The first national lockdown took place in spring and summer, which made it easier for people to spend time outdoors. Now that colder temperatures and darker evenings are upon us, getting outdoors might not seem as tempting.
However, spending time in nature can be great for your mental health so it an essential element of staying healthy in lockdown. What’s more, a burst of vitamin D can help to enhance your mood.
If you have your own garden, be sure to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Alternatively, taking your daily exercise excursion will ensure you are able to make the most of being in the fresh air.
Although we can get vitamin D from certain foods, the best source is from sunshine and because of our climate a large percentage of the UK population are deficient, particularly BAME groups. In April 2020, the NHS issued a statement, based on recommendations from Public Health England (PHE), that we should all consider taking 10 mcg/day vitamin D as a supplement, to keep our bones and muscles healthy.
The guidance is for everyone including pre-school children and the elderly. It applies to us all, and not just to those in specific high-risk or vulnerable groups.
2. Stay Active
If you are a regular gym-goer, you’ll be looking for ways to maintain your fitness levels throughout lockdown. Gyms will be re-opening across England from 2nd December, although indoor group glasses will be restricted in Tier 2 and not allowed at all in Tier 3.
Additionally, if you are in a higher risk category you may still prefer to be cautious and avoid your normal gym sessions.
Jogging or running is a great form of cardiovascular exercise, so be sure to use this to complement your training and as a reason to spend time outdoors. Even if you’re not a regular fitness fanatic, taking a daily brisk walk can be a good way to embrace a new fitness regime.
In addition to this, there are plenty of exercises you can indoors throughout lockdown. If you have the equipment, using an exercise bike will get your heart rate up, while strength training should help to build muscle. Alternatively, bodyweight exercises and simple at-home routines can help you to optimise your fitness levels, even if you don’t have access to equipment.
Remember, many gyms and personal trainers are offering virtual sessions, so you can access bespoke workout plans and fitness classes at any time.
The Simple Lockdown Workout is a VERY simple and basic routine that most people can do safely at home on their own, or with their partner without needing ANY equipment. This workout is not only a great way to stay healthy in lockdown, but also perfect to build into your fitness regime on an ongoing basis.
3. Be Kind to Yourself
Many people are finding it hard to deal with the ongoing restrictions, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Life has changed dramatically for everyone, so it’s natural to find the changes a little jarring.
If you’re not quite on top of everything at home or you notice yourself being a little more irritable than usual, try not to dwell on it.
By taking positive steps to enhance your day-to-day life, you can be as productive as possible. Not berating yourself for what you perceive as failures is the first place to start. Instead, give yourself a break and recognise how much you’re dealing with during this strange and unnerving time.
4. Eat Right
What we eat has a major impact on our physical and emotional wellbeing. While it might be tempting to treat yourself to junk food or sweets and an extra glass or two of wine, regularly eating unhealthy foods and excess alcohol can cause you to gain weight, feel sluggish and develop a low mood.
Conversely, filling your diet with healthy, nutritious food will help you to feel more energised and brighter. Did you know that you can reduce anxiety with your food choices?
Now is a great time to practice your culinary skills, so why not commit to becoming a great home cook during lockdown? If you have got extra time to hand, put it to good use and hone your skills as an amateur chef or maybe even try out more veggie-based dishes? Go Vegan is a great guide to delicious everyday vegan food.
5. Use Stress Reduction Techniques
Learning to manage stress is always important, but it’s particularly vital at times like this. When you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, knowing how to use stress-reduction techniques can enable you to feel calmer and more empowered.
There are a wide range of techniques to use, so be sure to try as many as possible to find a combination that works for you. From deep breathing exercises and mindfulness to meditation, yoga or self-hypnosis, there are a variety of ways to reduce your stress levels.
6. Lose Weight
If you have been planning to lose weight for a while or want to lose what you gained during the first lockdown, now could be the ideal time.
Additionally, as even Boris Johnson acknowledged, being overweight increases the likelihood of COVID-19 symptoms being more severe if you are unlucky enough to get the virus.
The best way to lose weight is unquestionably by making lifestyle changes and adopting a healthy diet and taking regular exercise. However, some people feel more incentivised to make those changes if they can first shed the pounds quickly. Meal replacement products such as Shake That Weight mean you can follow a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) principle to shed the weight while still feeling full. But do remember that meal replacement products should only be a short-term option.
Whatever products you choose, ensure you are getting sufficient nutrients every day. Shake That Weight, for example, says each of their meal replacement products contain 25% of your essential daily vitamins and minerals.
While there are various weight loss options to consider, following an established regime may make it easier for you to hit your goals. Whether you use professionally formulated shakes, increase the amount of exercise you do, or make your own diet choices, losing weight during lockdown can help to give you an increased sense of purpose as well as a host of mental and physical benefits.
7. Set Up a Home Office
If you’re working from home during lockdown, it’s important to have access to a quiet and productive environment. While some people may have a spare room to convert into a home office, this isn’t the case for everyone. If you have been working from your living room or at your dining room table, it might be time to set up a dedicated workspace that offers more functionality.
Considering Feng Shui principles when setting up your home office can provide great benefits.
Your employer has a duty of care towards you regarding health and safety, even when you’re working at home. This means that they may be willing to provide you with a desk, chair, and other equipment to ensure your working environment is not negatively impacting your physical and/or mental health.
8. Stay Sociable
With pubs, clubs and other leisure venues closed, it can be hard to stay sociable while lockdown continues. Furthermore, the inability to meet with extended family members or friends means there are few options when it comes to socialising. Sadly, this can lead to loneliness and isolation, which may have a knock-on effect on your emotional wellbeing. Due to this, it’s important to take every opportunity to be sociable during lockdown.
Be sure to make the most of virtual connectivity. Video calls and instant messages are a great way to maintain your social relationships until you can meet face-to-face once again.
Social media can also be a great way of keeping in touch and many local groups, including mental health support groups, have been formed. That said, think carefully about how you are using social media: ensure your usage is not excessive as it can be rather addictive, and avoid getting involved in any forums and groups that are very negative.
Looking to the Future
Although lockdown can present challenges, the promising news regarding possible COVID-19 vaccinations has given millions of people hope that we will be able to return to a more normal environment in the coming months. In the meantime, there are plenty of ways to enhance your health while you’re at home, which means you can use your time in lockdown to make positive changes and embrace an optimistic mindset.