It’s fair to say that the epidemic has made us all a bit more conscious of our health. Many of us have found ways of coping and taken a little control over our wellbeing, whether it’s taking part in a Zoom yoga class, going on runs, or experimenting with cooking. As we head back into the world, there’s no reason we shouldn’t keep those healthy habits going.
You are what you eat
Everything starts with what you eat. You’ll get out of your body what you put into it, so unless your diet is up to scratch, all those ab crunches you’ve been doing will be for naught. A good diet will improve your quality of life better than anything else.
- Cutting out junk food and eating healthy, regular meals with plenty of fruit and vegetables will reduce the compulsion to snack.
- Replace those carbonated drinks with glasses of water to stay hydrated without the excess sugar.
- Our summers are only getting hotter, so it’s more important than ever to keep yourself hydrated. Be sure to have a water bottle near your workstation, or close by at home.
- If you’re trying to increase your fruit and veg intake, then you could try smoothies. However, blending releases the sugars locked up in plant fibres, so try to keep it limited to 150ml a day.
- If you go through pots of coffee to get through the day, try to use low-fat milk or have your coffee black with no sugar to really cut those calories.
You don’t need to drop the chocolate and sweets completely (we all have our vices!), but everything in moderation. Besides, you enjoy the finer things in life more when they are a treat rather than a habit.
The best thing you can do for your physical and mental wellbeing is exercise. The UK Chief Medical Officer’s Physical Activity Guidelines suggest around 150 minutes per week of physical activity for adults aged 19 to 64. This might sound like a lot but spread that across a few mornings jogs and it becomes a lot more manageable. It’s a good idea to mix up your routine between cardio, flexibility, and strength training.
At the end of the day, any exercise is good, and you should do whatever you enjoy. If you’ve been doing yoga classes over Zoom, why not try them face to face and get socialising again? Maybe there’s a new sport you’ve been wanting to try but haven’t been able to due to social distancing rules? Get out there and give it a go!
Thinking happy thoughts
Being bombarded with news about the epidemic hasn’t been great for our mental health. So long as you know what you need to know in order to be safe, it’s good to turn off the news and step away from it all sometimes. The world can be overwhelming and it’s important to maintain a positive mindset. If you suffer from anxiety, it’s a good idea to stay away from caffeine if you can as it can worsen it.
It might sound silly, but the phrase ‘fake it till you make it’ holds some weight; acting positively towards other people, and being consciously thankful for the blessings you have in life — these things will improve your outlook over time. Regular practice of mindfulness and meditation techniques can be an excellent stress-reducer.
The importance of routine
There’s nothing worse than having to balance a hundred things at once and feeling like you haven’t got the time for any of them. Being organised and sticking to a schedule will help make things feel more manageable and make it a lot easier to maintain a healthy work/life balance; be sure to set aside some time for yourself to indulge in some of those hobbies and interests you picked up over lockdown.
If you find yourself sitting at your desk for extended periods of time, then it’s important to take breaks. Sitting down for a long time can have many long-term consequences, such as poor circulation and heart issues, weight gain, diabetes, spinal issues and more. That’s not to mention the effects of staring at a computer screen for too long. Make sure you get up and move your body every so often. Stretches and bodyweight exercises like squats are great for this.
It’s not just your day that benefits from having a routine; by organising your time and peppering in some physical exercise here and there, you’ll help ensure you get a good night’s sleep, which will be a major boost to your physical and mental wellbeing. Switch off your phone and don’t drink caffeine too close to bedtime.
You might have developed some good habits over the lockdown, but perhaps you picked up some bad ones too. Now’s the time to tackle them! Some things are good in moderation, but smoking isn’t one of them. Giving up smoking is never a bad idea, particularly when the cost of living is only increasing. The money you spend on cigarettes would be better put towards the weekly shop or energy bills. And it might be tempting to head out on another pub crawl now everything has opened up again, but your liver will thank you for your restraint.
The lessons we’ve learned over the past two years should stay with us as we move into a post-pandemic world. Now more than ever, we need to look after ourselves and practice some self-care. Lots of people have tips and advice, their little ‘life hacks’ to get you into top shape, but sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones; nothing is going to beat a good, varied diet coupled with regular physical exercise. Making little changes at home and the office can start adding up quickly to help you be your best self.