Six Ways to Stay Healthy During Lockdown

Six Ways to Stay Healthy During Lockdown

As many have already stated, these are strange and unprecedented times. As much as many dislike and act out against the regulations, quarantine and isolation are the best ways we can help save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. Personal health has been sharply brought into focus, but we must also do our best to stay healthy while at home.

We’re here to guide you through some ways you can keep your mind and body fit during the lockdown. It can feel like we’re hugely restricted, but now is the best time for this to happen; we have a wealth of information and entertainment at our fingertips to keep us engaged. With the advent of the Internet and smartphones, it’s never been easier to make it through such an unfamiliar situation.

When we say staying healthy, it’s more than just physical health. The pandemic has taken a toll on many people’s mental health, too: anxiety, loneliness and frustration can be seemingly-unshakeable. We need to take care of our minds just as much as our bodies – doing so comes more intuitively to some more than others.

1. Keep to a schedule

For the vast majority of us, our daily routines have been drastically changed, even breaking down altogether. A change in working circumstances means adapting and altering a schedule that you may have kept for years. This is compounded if there’s children or relatives to now look after. It’s easy to feel lost, and that means getting swept away in unwelcome feelings.

Make a new schedule and sticking to it might seem like a simple thing, but it will help bring a sense of normalcy to everyday life. Even easy things, like getting out of bed at a set time, getting dressed and allotting time for a walk, can be a part of it. To this end, it will also keep you physically healthy, if you’re finding yourself snacking too much, or skipping main meals.

Mental health professionals are quick to sing the praises of a schedule: it can help keep your sleep healthy, keep your mind from wandering and help you stay in the moment. Remember when starting a new routine to be forgiving on yourself, as it can take some time to build new habits. Writing it down and ticking off your tasks every day can also keep you on track, along with a little satisfaction of seeing all the things you’ve achieved. It can be easy to think you’ve done nothing all day, when in fact you’ve done a great deal of small things that add up.

2. Keep constant contact with friends & loved ones

As previously mentioned, living in the age of the internet has made communication immeasurably easier and more powerful, with the ability to talk to people living hundreds of miles away instantaneously. This should be fully utilised during the lockdown, of course, since it may be some time before we can meet up with our friends and family again. Also, as humans are social creatures, there’s an instinct in us to be together, making being alone all the more difficult.

First of all, it’s worth mentioning that you shouldn’t be shy about asking your friends to chat, or feel as though you’re bothering them – we’re all in this together, and they’re more than likely feeling the same as you. They might need someone to reach out to them, too, especially if they’re vulnerable or someone who’s in one of the high risk groups.

As for ways to communicate, we’re spoilt for choice. There’s the trusty phone call and text messages, but with but every modern device being equipped with front-facing cameras, there’s no reason not to video call people at every opportunity. Seeing a familiar face during a time of crisis will help ease the loneliness.

Services like FaceTime for Apple devices, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Skype give you great options for smaller calls. If your friends and family are spread out across multiple services and you want them all in a single call, consider Zoom. In the past it’s been used mainly for business meetings, but recently it’s been adopted by swathes of people looking to host virtual gatherings, pub quizzes and even birthday parties! It’s free to sign up, though calls are limited to 40 minutes – more than enough time for a catch-up and a soul-quenching chat.

To tie into the first point, scheduling a chat once or twice a week will scratch your social itch. Speaking of being in the virtual space…

3. Control your news intake

For many of us, we feel as though we need to stay right up to date – to the minute – with what’s going on in the world, especially since the start of the pandemic. No one is going to talk against staying updated, but with smartphones and social media, it’s easier than ever to have a constant drip-feed of news from around the world. This is a double-edge sword, as I’m sure many of you have hear people express that they’re “tired of the news”.

It’s been given a few names, such as news fatigue and headline stress disorder, but the cause is the same: being exposed to too much news and it causing feelings of sadness, tiredness, helplessness and anxiety. Worst of all, some of these headlines may not even be true, as false news becomes more prevalent during the crisis.

The simple solution is to control your intake, whether that’s unfollowing certain accounts, controlling your social media time or only getting your news from trusted sources once or twice a day. Twitter has the ability to mute words and hashtags, which is effective to limit your exposure to certain conversations.

You may feel like you have to keep up, but you must put your own mental health first. Even a daily update will give you all the key information you need without weighing you down. Just focus on what you can solve at home, and don’t feel guilty for searching out happy news or funny memes.

4. Maintain a healthy diet

Comfort comes in many forms – snacking may be one of the most universal forms. The perfect storm of bad news, loneliness and aimlessness may mean we turn to sweet and fatty treats to give us a pick-me-up. Combine that with shopping trips being turned upside down and it’s easy to slip into an unhealthy diet.

To be clear, a treat every now and again is good for the mind, but try to switch over to fresh fruit or nuts if you know you’re prone to snacking. If you have the ingredients, there’s huge resources on healthy treat recipes out there, ready for you to try (and maybe build upon) during the lockdown period. You can even fortify them with supplements to give them an extra boost of nutrients like fibre, vitamins and minerals.

As for main meals, you should stick to your three squares a day as often as possible. WHO suggest prioritising fresh ingredients and planning your meals, freezing the leftovers to be enjoyed later. There’s also the option of batch-cooking a number of meals to be enjoyed throughout the week. If you’re having difficulty working out what to cook with limited ingredients, there’s a swathe of websites dedicated to using what might be sitting in your cupboards – simply search for store cupboard recipes. In fact, searching online for recipes can help you adapt your diet to what’s available, keeping things healthy and delicious while your usual shop may be out of reach.

Remember to pay attention to what you’re drinking, too. An overabundance of sugary soft drinks, caffeine and alcohol will do your body no good – again, everything in moderation. Even with extended time indoors, it’s still important to drink enough water every day; around 2 litres.

5. Stay fit – keep exercising

The lockdown doesn’t mean you have to be inactive. Now that we’re not getting the small amount of exercise we would before, getting whatever we can is all the more important. The NHS suggests that 150 minutes of “moderately intense activity” a week is ideal for adults. Fortunately, you can get a decent work out, both indoors and outside – no equipment required.

First of all, according to government guidelines, you are allowed outside once a day for the purpose of exercise, so long as you maintain social distancing rules of staying two metres away from people. Walking is one of the best and most accessible exercises, with brisk walking often being called a gentler alternative to jogging. To tell if you’re walking fast enough to be consider brisk, you should be able to talk, but not sing the lyrics to a song.

Outdoors exercise doesn’t have to be limited to walking by yourself: you can run or cycle too, with others from your household, if you wish to mix things up.

If you’re under stricter quarantine and cannot leave the house, you can still stay fit and burn some calories. Essentially, any sort of exercise that makes you lose your breath for longer than ten minutes is ideal – if you have any equipment gathering dust in the attic, now’s the time to get it out. For the unmotivated, sometimes it can help to work out while watching an episode of TV or a video (this can be great for building up a daily habit). If you have limited or no resources, the NHS has a series of great ten-minute routines for a range of abilities.

6. Accept the unfamiliarity of the situation

What’s happening right now is weird and scary, with so many unknown factors. With a once-in-a-generation event like this, it’s important to remember that there’s simply so much outside of our control, and that it’s okay. It’s easy to lose yourself in the scale of the pandemic, but within that there’s a small kernel of comfort: everyone is going through the same ordeal of being quarantined, looking after their families and being separated from their friends. We’re all relying on the same methods to stay mentally and physically healthy.