These are interesting times indeed, covid-19 has and is changing so many aspects of our everyday lives. What is normal these days, how do we find balance, stability and stay healthy when so much of what we’ve always known and done has been thrown up in the air almost overnight.
Here I will outline 5 ways to stay healthy in 2020 so that you can reduce your stress levels, understand better how to live and work from home and keep yourself fit and healthy while the gyms are still shut.
I am no guru or scientist, I am a personal trainer and life coach who has had to adjust the way I operate and how I help my clients due to covid-19. So many people have been affected on a personal and professional level it’s frightening. From those directly impacted by the virus through illness or the loss of someone close, to business and job losses right across the board.
It doesn’t have to be doom and gloom all round though, by making a few positive choices and applying a little self discipline and common sense you’ll be surprised at how much better things can be.
This guide will provide some basic advice on how to navigate your way through this pandemic, through lockdown and it’s easing and keeping yourself and those close to you safe and healthy. Once armed with the 5 ways to stay healthy in 2020 I hope you will put them into action and move forward safely and surely.
1: Social Distancing & Self Protection
It’s become a bit of a mantra these days; wash your hands, wear a mask, stay 2 metres apart. However, these are all measures that have been shown to help reduce the risk of catching and spreading the coronavirus.
Some of you will be exempt from wearing a mask for medical reasons and that’s fine, you just need to make sure you are vigilant in protecting yourselves and thoughts around you.
Some of you may believe that wearing a mask won’t make a difference, you believe what you believe. The question I will ask you is how would you feel if you infected a vulnerable family member or friend? If it doesn’t hurt you to wear a mask then why not wear one for the safety of those you care for and others around you?
Regular hand washing is essential, most of us are touchers, we touch surfaces, our faces, other people and this is a sure fire way to catch or pass on infection. It doesn’t have to be sanitiser and alcohol gel, good old fashioned soap and water works too. Wash thoroughly for 20 to 30 seconds and make sure you get into all the nooks and crannies of your hands, wash them every time you use the bathroom and when you return home from work, after shopping or from visiting the hairdresser or nail bar. Use a gel sanitiser as you leave the shops, restaurant, pub or even your friends house. It’s better to be that extra bit careful than be sorry!
As for the 2 metre distancing rule, again when out in public you may pass close to someone who looks fine. But they could be infected and have only mild symptoms, or they could inadvertently cough just as you pass them! A little personal space can go a long way to looking after yourself and your loved ones. You may think “I’ll be OK, I’m young and healthy” but it’s not just about you!
2: Working From Home
Many people have been working from home during the lockdown period, me included, and many still are as the advice is to keep working from home where possible. Many companies are also realising that they do not need all their staff in an office in order to operate effectively. This will reduce their overhead costs and will provide flexibility in the working day for a lot of people with regards to child care and commuting. These are just some of the benefits for both companies and individuals with regards to working from home.
However, for many it is also very stressful and limiting as it means they are stuck in the house for the whole day, no change of scene, no social interaction and no easy access to help and support with regards to work issues, and no escape from a stressful home life for some too.
This is where planning some breaks throughout the day will benefit many. Go for a walk, even if it is just to the shops for a loaf of bread or some milk. If you can’t get out then take some time away from your “desk” to sort the washing machine or do the dishes. Just have a change of focus for a few minutes. Another way to take a break is to make sure that you don’t eat at your desk, have your main meals away from your work space.
It is also important that where possible, your work space isn’t a cluttered kitchen table or where the kids are also playing their online games. Preferably your “desk” should be somewhere you can shut the door on at the end of the day. It is too easy to take your laptop to the couch with you after dinner to finish that email or sign off that report. We’ve all been there, I know I’m guilty of that too!
Working from home can be a real plus for most people if managed correctly. No more long commutes, a more flexible day and in some cases easier child care options. However, it is important to recognise the added stress that working from home can bring and it is vital that both employee and employer do everything possible to mitigate that stress. If you are self employed, as I am, then it is down to you to ensure that your working environment at home is suitable for you and that it is as stress free and productive an environment as possible.
3: Staying Healthy & Keeping Fit (part 1)
This has been a big challenge for many people, many of my clients have struggled with this in one way or another, especially in the early days of the lockdown. At the time of writing the gyms are still shut in Scotland.
So, in working from home our daily commute has become null and void, we no longer have access to a gym, classes or the motivation that a personal trainer or training partners provide, which means that for many of you your activity levels have dropped through the floor. The gym for many is as much about stress relief as it is about keeping fit. This just compounds the stress we are already under from working at home, from worry about covid-19, from worrying about our elderley or isolated friends and family members!
This does require a mindset shift, and it is possible to get a great workout away from the gym. It might not be what you are used to but it will help to relieve stress and keep you fit and healthy. In its simplest form walking is a great exercise, you can just chuck on your trainers and go. You can buy some simple to use and reasonably cheap exercise equipment to train with at home too. There are numerous options around this and even more videos on YouTube on what exercises to do and how.
In my opinion you have no excuse not to do something at home that will keep you moving in one way or another.
4: Staying Healthy & Keeping Fit (part 2)
I decided to split this off into a separate section, while it is closely linked to the above it is also a subject in its own right too.
There, the s word has been said and I know that it is boredom, stress, laziness and a “why bother” attitude that drives this. What I mean by “why bother” is that many of you are taking the opinion that why should you bother to eat healthily when you can’t exercise so what’s the point, you may as well have that cake, biscuit or whatever and work it off once the gym reopens! The trouble with this is that as we age we lose fitness faster, leaving a bigger mountain to climb when the gym reopens. This is demotivating and often leads to a complete halt in gym training and healthy living.
Well, it’s a slippery slope let me tell you. Put it this way, you are moving way less than normal and consuming more calories. This is only going one way, but it definitely doesn’t have to be this way. Yes you can snack, but in moderation and if you are exercising regularly. Yes walking is a form of exercise when done with purpose.
Many people are also struggling with how to cook and what to eat at home too. Rather than one or two meals a day that need to be prepared and cooked at home, it’s now two or three meals a day and again laziness and boredom kicks in. I do know that a lot of you have gone the other way too and are now cooking and eating better than ever before, and well done! It’s just a case of being prepared, thinking ahead and having a little self discipline.
Eating nutritious and balanced meals will actually leave you feeling full and satisfied for longer and as such you’ll snack less too! It all comes down to choices, and yes you do have a choice even though it may not always feel that way.
Staying fit and healthy is not just about keeping the weight off, it is about making sure your immune system is functioning optimally. A fit body is more able to tolerate stress both physical and mental, than an unfit body. Healthy body, healthy mind!
5: Common Sense!
Apparently common sense isn’t all that common anymore! We complain at being told what to do by the Government, our families etc but yet it seems that many of us still need to be told what to do! This may seem a little insulting to some of you, a little simplistic too and I apologise.
I do not mean to offend, but I do mean to inform and help you to help yourselves!
All I am asking is that you give yourself a moment’s pause before you react to something or act on something. Try to look at any given situation from more than one perspective, be mindful and considerate in your decision making.
This will most often result in you making the right choice, whatever that might be and arriving at that choice with less stress and more confidence in the knowledge that it is the right choice! Those around you will benefit too, whether they are family, friends, work colleagues or a stranger in passing. If you understand that all the choices we make have a ripple effect outwards from us at the centre that can affect those around us and in turn their reactions and responses will likewise impact us.
You will know most of what I have written here, you may have read some of the linked articles too. You may feel that my approach is too simplistic. My view is this, get the little things right, the simple things and they will add up to bigger positives. It is easier to make little adjustments to your routine, it is simple to change your thought process just a tiny bit. And over time these little changes will add up, where trying to make big sweeping changes all in one go can often be daunting and much more difficult.
These are the 5 ways to stay healthy in 2020, physically and mentally healthy. Make small, achievable changes, use common sense and mindfulness in your decision making. Snack healthily i.e. grab an apple rather than a bag of crisps. Reach out and ask for help and guidance if you need it, workout regularly and sort out your work space at home.
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