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Staying Healthy During Lock down

As the COVID-19 lock down continues to keep many of us at home, it can be easy to fall into bad habits. During these difficult times, your mental and physical health need a bit of support. Below are some idea’s on how to stay healthy during these times and hopefully they can inspire and help you and your family create meaningful and positive healthy choices as the lock down continues.

How to look after your mental health

With all the change and uncertainty in life at the moment, taking care of your mental health has never been more important. There are several benefits associated with positive mental wellbeing, including things like:

  •       reduced stress and anxiety
  •       improved moods and clearer thinking
  •       a greater sense of calm and increased self-esteem
  •       improved relationships.

Practice mindfulness exercises 

Mindfulness is a practice that is beneficial no matter what’s going on in the world. If things seem a little stressful at the moment, and you’re finding it hard to focus, it could be the ideal remedy.

Being mindful is the act of being fully present and aware of where you are and what you’re doing. It’s something that all people can do, although few of us take the time to actually spend doing it. However, it can be a great first step when discovering how to stay healthy during lock down.

Grounding Technique

Practising mindfulness can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve your memory, and help with concentration. Maintaining a mindful life can benefit your emotional health, relationships and communication skills now and in the future.

A great place to start with mindfulness is with some basic breathing exercises. Take one minute out of your day to sit and focus on your breath. Notice the air going in and out of your nostrils as your chest rises and falls. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to focus on your breathing. 

Stay in touch with friends and family 

In these difficult times, it’s important to focus on some of the positives in our lives. One such positive is our access to technology, and how it can be such a powerful tool for bringing us together. With our smartphones, internet access, webcams, and other methods of communication, it’s never been easier to stay in touch.

Although many of us can’t see friends and loved ones face-to-face at the moment, we can still keep in touch. Speaking with the people you care about can give you (and them) a mental boost.

There are plenty of ways you can keep in touch:

  • Call your friends and family. Try and arrange to speak with different people throughout the week. It can give you something to look forward to and keep you feeling social.
  • Arrange an online activity. There are plenty of apps and services that let multiple people voice and video chat together. Play games, tell stories, and catch up remotely. You can even do things like have a murder mystery party or set up a pub quiz. 
  • Send messages. Try reaching out to some people you’ve not spoken with in a while, even if it’s just a message to say hi.
  • Write letters. If you’re feeling old school and you have the means, now might be a good time to write to someone you care about.

Get enough sleep

Sleep plays a fundamental role in mental health. However, when daily life gets disrupted, it’s easy to fall into bad sleep cycles.

Try and focus on maintaining a regular bedtime and avoid the temptation of lying in bed for ages in the morning or during the day. Take some time to wind down at the end of the day and avoid having caffeine or alcohol late at night.

Stay physically active

As we spend more time at home and stop the spread of COVID-19, it is easy to forget our daily activity routine. Many of our usual venues have closed, and we are no longer getting incidental exercise from commuting or running errands. But it is especially important to stay active during this time. Regular exercise is good for both physical and mental health. It has many benefits including: reducing the risk of health conditions like stroke and heart disease, controlling weight, reducing stress and anxiety and improving sleep.

For the the recommended guidelines on how much exercise you should be doing each day click the link below.

https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines

Ways you can still be active

There are still many ways you can be active while maintaining physical distance.

Out and about – You can still exercise in some public places. You can meet up with a friend, family member, or trainer.

You can: walk, run, ride a bike or scooter or kick a ball at the oval.

Just remember to stay home if you are unwell, keep 1.5 metres apart, avoid physical contact, and wash your hands.

At home

Physical activity you can do at home includes:

  • Weights training — if you don’t have any weights, make your own with filled water bottles, cans or jars
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Backyard sports
  • Going up and down stairs
  • On-the-spot running, star jumps, sit ups and push ups
  • Gardening
  • Dancing
  • Virtual fitness classes
  • Zoom or Skype group lounge exercises with your friends

Maintain a healthy, balanced diet

If you’ve been working from home or furloughed recently, you’ll no doubt have noticed the benefits of having your own kitchen nearby at all times. You may find yourself eating more of all the wrong things, which, although comforting at the time, can be problematic.

Eating well can help you stay healthy and avoid illness. Focus on choosing and enjoying a wide variety of foods from the 5 food groups every day. Healthy eating can boost your quality of life and reduce the risk of infections and diet-related chronic diseases.

Learn about healthy eating

The term ‘healthy and balanced diet’ can sometimes seem like a difficult one to understand. We’re often bombarded by messages and advertisements about food that seem to conflict each other, so how do we know what’s healthy?

There are many ways for Australians to choose foods that promote their health and wellbeing. The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide recommendations for healthy eating that are realistic and practical.  Most importantly, the recommendations are based on the best available scientific evidence.

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating covers the 5 food groups and the recommended amounts you should eat every day. These include:

  • plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans
  • fruit
  • grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
  • lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
  • milk yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives

Healthy eating habits include:

  • being physically active and choosing amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs
  • enjoying a wide variety of nutritious foods
  • drinking plenty of water
  • limiting intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt and added sugars such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips, crisps and other sugary or savoury snacks
  • limiting intake of alcohol.
  • caring for your food — preparing and storing it safely

Staying healthy is a habit 

Evidently, it’s vital that we all take care of our physical and emotional health during this difficult time. In doing so, we’re better placed to look after ourselves and others.

With some simple changes to your daily routine, such as getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and keeping in touch with people, you can boost your mood and stay healthy.

Resources

https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/ongoing-support-during-coronavirus-covid-19#staying-healthy

https://www.futurelearn.com/info/blog/stay-healthy-during-lockdown

https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/covid-19/information/covid-19-mental-health

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