Amidst all the chaos and uncertainty that our community is experiencing at the moment, it is important to ensure that we are taking steps to maintain our health and wellbeing.
Whilst our normal routines may be anything but normal – our accessibility to the things we have become accustomed to may have reduced and the ability to get what we want, when we want it has been restricted – we have all been presented with an opportunity for change.
We now have the time and space to set goals and implement strategies to reach them, as well as grow in areas that we have not previously prioritised and build resilience and strength.
The food that we eat impacts hugely on our mental and physical health. Not only does it provide fuel for our bodies, but it can influence our mood, energy and sleep cycles. This is why having a good gut health diet is important.
Now, more than ever, it is imperative to consume nutritious foods. Put simply, eating whole foods including a range of fruits and vegetables, protein, nuts and seeds, and legumes will give our mind and body sustenance and vitality.
Use food to add diversity and interest to your days in isolation. Food is also an adventure. Explore new flavours by testing out a new recipe or reinventing an old favourite, or connect with family and friends by sharing food ideas.
Just like nutrition, exercise is a key component to staying mentally and physically healthy. Aside from the benefits of being fitter and stronger, there is evidence to show that exercise is linked to immune, sleep and mood regulation.
Exercising frequently during isolation is therefore incredibly important. Whether you choose to ride, run, or walk, get outside daily. The benefits will far out way the awkward encounters of giving your fellow exercisers a wide berth.
There are many options for indoor fitness too, whether its a social media challenge, fitness app, video session with a personal trainer, or just your own creativity and drive. Get active.
Whilst we must maintain physical distance from others, there need not be restrictions on staying connected. In this technological age, it is easy to stay in touch with our community. There are many apps and resources available for exercise, learning, communicating and sharing.
Check in regularly with loved ones – for your own wellbeing and theirs, too. Schedule catch-ups, or keep it spontaneous, just as you would usually. Share moments, challenge one another, spend time and have fun. Distance does not mean that we are alone.
Mindfulness, when practised regularly, can aid in reducing stress, increasing energy and mental clarity, improving focus and calm, and regulating sleep. Mindfulness practice is merely the act of being present. Centring focus on the current state of the mind and body.
It switches on the parasympathetic nervous system, improving emotional regulation, reducing blood pressure and heart rate, increasing muscle relaxation, and allowing thoughts to slow. Mindfulness practice can provide a reprieve to the bombardment of information, situational stresses and current hardships. Allowing you an opportunity to take a mental break, and then to regroup and refocus.
Keeping your home clean will contribute considerably to being healthy. And it is the little things that count in reducing the load on your immune system. Minimising harsh chemicals, regularly washing bedding, towels and clothes, flushing the toilet with the lid down, thoroughly washing your produce before eating, cleaning then drying surfaces are all small but effective.
On a larger scale, air quality is of utmost importance. An air purifier may remove mould spores, odours, dust and mites, bacteria, pollen, pet dander and smoke. All of which can engage an allergic or immune response. Having your heating or cooling units cleaned will assist in maintaining a healthy home, too.
In this current state of unknown, our ability to be resilient, adaptable, and maintain our wellbeing throughout is integral. There are many ways in which you can ensure that you can stay healthy whilst at home, all of which are easily implemented.
Change can be daunting for some and motivating for others. No matter the state of being, or your understanding of the term, change may only occur when there is a driving force. The silver lining to isolation is that we have the chance to reflect on what is important to us and how best to achieve our goals.
What will you do with your time at home?
By Sarah Bakker – Patient Advocate & Merge Health Coach