A 10-Step Guide To Staying Healthy, Happy & Sane During Lockdown
Over the last few weeks most people have been adjusting to a new normal and trying to establish new habits to keep them healthy, happy and sane during this period of lockdown and throughout the coming weeks and months.
There’s so much information out there and so much you *could* be doing right now and it can be a little mind-boggling, so we’ve put together a simple guide from our own experience and from what we’ve seen as particularly important for our clients.
No need to overcomplicate things. Here’s how to stay healthy, happy and sane throughout lockdown and beyond.
- Plan Your Week
You might not have as many plans but why should organisation go out the window?
At a time when life is strange, it’s also important to feel even a small sense of control over your own life and time. Not to mention the fact that the process of planning the week ahead, in itself, causes you to think more carefully about what you want to achieve and how you are going to get that done.
Set aside 10-15mins on a Sunday to plan out your week, including your training sessions and home workouts, your #onceaday, virtual evening plans with friends, downtime and weekend fun. You will get more out of your week than if you had just decided to ‘wing it’, maintain some semblance of normal and be far more likely to exercise and eat well, which is key to staying healthy and happy.
Bonus tip: We’ve been planning evening meals about 4 days in advance. This helps reduce food wastage, allows you to experiment with different meals and gets rid of the last minute panic over dinner… you always have something healthy and delicious planned! If you and your housemates or family are prone to larger evening meals, it also allows you to plan out your food intake for the rest of the day to give yourself more room to ‘play with’ at dinner.
2. Set-Up Like A Boss
Working from home is delightful for many reasons. Most importantly, you can work in PJ bottoms and your colleagues will never know. What a time to be alive.
An important drawback is the lack of a workplace set-up, however. In our experience and that of our clients, creating a proper workplace environment can help you be more productive throughout the day, encourage more of a divide between home life and work life and reduce the aches and pains associated with poor posture.
Even if you are limited with what you have available and have found yourself working on the sofa, here’s how to set-up like a boss.
- Finding the right spot
If you’re lucky you’ll have a desk but, for most of us, the reality is working from the sofa, kitchen table or, even worse, bed. Although there may be something attractive about working from bed the whole day, the best advice would be to find somewhere that is as separate as possible from ‘home life’, sleeping or your downtime. Create a little set-up that you can enter and leave at the beginning and end of the day, or you might find your working day and home life blend into one.
- No slouching sir
Again, it’s tempting to slouch into the sofa and find yourself getting up, a little stiff, 5 hours later for lunch. This is less than ideal. Try to find a set-up that encourages proper posture. You’ll thank us later when you’re the only one of your colleagues not plagued with back and neck pain.
Use a pillow to prop you up and try to raise the height of your laptop so you’re not hunched over it all day. If in doubt, set yourself an alarm to go off every 1-2hrs to remind you to do some desk mobilisation and stretching.
- Let in the light
There is nothing more depressing than working in the dark all day. If there’s one benefit of working from home, it may well be the freedom and the flexibility, so make the most out of it.
Want to work outside in the sun all day? Great, find yourself a little spot and don’t forget your sunscreen.
3. Use Your #OnceADay
You’ve got it, use it. Going prolonged periods of time in the house without leaving, is not great for physical or mental health.
Even if you have a garden, the change of scenery is important and getting out for your #OnceADay can help break an otherwise monotonous schedule.
Lockdown has also caused a far less active lifestyle for most of us and getting out for a walk or run everyday will help you get those steps up, increase activity levels and contribute to protecting your physical health.
4. Nutritious & Delicious
We are all acutely aware of the need to protect our physical health and nutrition plays a key role here.
When it comes to staying healthy, prioritise proper nutrition to encourage optimal health. Need a refresh on the entirely unsexy nutritional principles for optimal health? Here we go:
- Limit refined starches
- Limit added sugars
- Limit processed foods
- Limit your intake of certain processed fats eg. trans-fats
- Emphasise whole grain foods, with or without lean meats, fish, poultry and seafood
“And all potentially consistent with: Food, not too much, mostly plants” – Katz & Meller (2014)
Aside from its important role within health, food is good for the soul. With all this new time on your hands, why not experiment with cooking and set yourself up with a healthy lockdown habit to last you a lifetime?
If you want to work on your nutrition during this lockdown period and would like some help understanding what to eat for your goal and how to go about changing your diet for long-term success, Intake Nutrition offers Online Nutrition Coaching to help you do just that. Enquire here for more information and guidance from an MNU Certified Nutritionist.
5. Curate Your Environment
Never have we had more control in this respect. When it comes to your environment, make sure to create one that encourages, rather than undermines, your health, happiness and sanity.
- If you find the news is increasing your anxiety and stress, restrict your watching time to 5-10 minutes per day.
- Buy the food you want to eat. One difficulty of working from home is the boredom snacking and this is something we’ve heard a lot about from our clients. Focusing on proper meals and mindful eating practices can help this but the reality is; if you don’t want to find yourself eating it, don’t buy it. If you know you’ll be reaching for a 3pm snack, that’s fine! It’s easy enough to ensure that you have other options ready and available than a tin of biscuits. There’s nothing wrong with a cuppa and a biscuit but if you find it hard to moderate your intake, it may well just be better to go for some more nutritious alternatives for your afternoon pick-me-up.
6. Exercise At Least 2-3 x Per Week
Not only will this help you stay active and keep you sane, maintaining some resistance training can help mitigate the consequences of poor posture throughout the day.
Moving your body just has hundreds of benefits and, if you’ve always meant to start but never ‘had time’ before, why not start now? There is so much you can do with just bodyweight or inexpensive resistance bands to help keep you healthy and active during this time.
Unsure where to start? FIT By Flo offers Online Coaching with bespoke training programmes, advice on equipment and set-up and ongoing support to help you through the process from a qualified Personal Trainer. Get a free consultation here. Alternatively, join the free FIT By Flo Facebook Community here for free classes, Q&As and community spirit.
7. Prioritise Your Sleep
When it comes to health and fitness goals, it’s not all go go go. You need to prioritise your rest and recovery, particularly through your sleep, to make sure you can perform and adapt properly.
Lack of sleep can affect both physical and mental health and lead to:
- Reduced cognitive function, concentration and performance
- Increased risk of injury
- Increased hunger through hormonal disruption
- Impaired ability to adhere to a calorie deficit
- Impaired recovery and training adaptation
So how much sleep do you need?
- Those aged between 18yrs and 64yrs should be aiming for between 7-9hrs per night!
If this wasn’t the perfect time to start sleeping your way to success (you know what I mean), then I don’t know what it is! Set a solid evening routine and start prioritising your shut-eye.
8. Manage Your Mindset
Lockdown is hard and pretty stressful, which means that now more than ever, you need to protect your sanity and mental health. All these steps will contribute to protecting your mindset in some way but it may well be worth dedicating some specific time to it.
Meditation, using apps such as Headspace, practicing gratitude and journaling have all been things we’ve seen help in this area. However, if you find that you are really struggling during this time make sure to reach out.
9. Differentiate Weekdays & Weekends
It’s all too easy to let the days roll into one. Not here!
Create some boundaries that simulate some kind of ‘normal’ routine and make sure to use the weekend to switch-off from work and do something fun.
There are more and more virtual events being organised and Time Out are sharing them here.
Themed nights are also popping up… why not dress up in ski gear and have an après-ski night with cheese fondue and cocktails? Or take it back to the 70s? It may sound weird but I’m sure it beats doing your 27th virtual pub quiz of lockdown.
10. Find Some Joy
It may be hard but, if you think hard enough, there will most likely be at least one thing that you’ve enjoyed about lockdown. What is that?
Maybe you love working from home, or you suddenly appreciate the outdoors far more. Maybe you’ve established a newfound love for running or got to spend more time with your family and loved ones than you have in years.
Find a little bit of joy in what you’re doing right now and hold onto that. This is an unprecedented situation and it will probably never happen again in the same way. What will you miss from lockdown and what do you want to maintain when you go back to ‘normal life’?
That’s it folks. 10 steps to keep you healthy, happy and sane!
Please let us know how you get on and share with anyone who wants to boss a healthy, happy lockdown.
Much love as always,
Intake Nutrition x