The UK government is meeting today to discuss the current lockdown.
With scientific research indicating that it can take at least six weeks of lockdown to contain the virus, it is likely that it is going be extended by at least another three weeks.
The lockdown is presenting many challenges for us all and it has significantly affected work, social lives, travel, shopping, and exercise, amongst others.
Many of these have a direct impact on both our mental and physical health and, therefore, this kind of disruption has the potential to detrimentally impact our wellbeing.
The following section will highlight a number of key areas to focus on to promote good health and wellbeing during this challenging period.
1) Get Enough Sleep
I must be honest, I do feel a little hypocritical using this point.
Despite being able to maintain my normal bedtime routine for the first week or so, staying up late playing Call of Duty eventually put it to the sword.
However, although my bedtime and rising-time have changed, I am still consistently sleeping for seven to eight hours per night.
We are all well aware of the impact that sleep has on our health. It is an essential requirement for maintaining good physical and mental health.
Failure to get adequate sleep has been linked with a range of issues.
This includes poor cognitive function, low mood, irritability, weakened immunity, and the development of chronic diseases.
Consequently, getting enough sleep should be a top priority during the lockdown.
I recognise that this is easy said than done for many and that I am one of the lucky ones who can fall asleep at the drop of a hat.
There are a number of activities and techniques that can be employed that may facilitate better sleep.
Restricting electronic use close to bedtime, using relaxation exercises & techniques, and establishing a better bedtime and “winding-down” routine may all be beneficial.
2) Practice Good Hygiene
Considering that we are now spending most of our time indoors and don’t have many social interactions, there may be less of an emphasis on maintaining good hygiene.
However, it is important that we continue to practice good hygiene.
Activities such as showering, changing into clean clothes, brushing our teeth, putting on deodorant, keeping the house clean, and washing our hands, should be performed on a daily basis.
While ensuring we do these things every day is evidently important for promoting our physical health, it can also impact our mental health.
Failure to do so has the potential to lower our self-esteem and mood.
Having poor hygiene will likely prevent us from wanting to interact with others or from going outdoors.
As to be highlighted in the following points, getting outdoors and interacting with others (where safe and possible) is massively important for maintaining health and wellbeing.
3) Perform Daily Physical Activity
As a PT, I’m obviously a huge advocate of exercise due to the benefits it has on our mental and physical wellbeing.
If possible, it is recommended to get some form of physical activity on a daily basis.
When I talk about physical activity, this does not mean a high-intensity, sixty-minute workout every single day.
There is no particular exercise that must be done every day for a specified amount of time. It can literally be anything; any activity that gets us moving.
The government allow us to get outdoors once a day to exercise – take advantage of this, if possible.
There are many studies that have shown outdoor exercise to be highly beneficial for our mental health, as well as our physical.
I recognise that some individuals can’t go outside as they must self-isolate.
This clearly makes things more restrictive, however, there are a number of great online classes and home workouts that can be used to keep us active.
On that note, I have designed three home-based training programmes that are free for all.
Within the spreadsheet, there are YouTube instructional videos that provide information on how to perform all of the exercises in each programme.
4) Eat Well And Stay Hydrated
For me, there is often a temptation to binge eat or make poor food choices.
I have found that the temptation has increased tenfold since lockdown has begun and I don’t think I am alone in this!
There is nothing wrong with consuming processed foods in moderation. However, it can become problematic when they start to interfere with a healthy diet.
Typically these foods have poor nutritional profiles and are high in calories; therefore, consuming a great quantity of them can detrimentally impact our health and body composition.
Consequently, it is crucial that we consume a calorie-controlled, balanced diet that is high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to benefit our health and wellbeing.
Maintaining hydration levels should also be a daily priority.
It is thought that the body is anywhere between 50 and 65% water while the brain is approximately 73%.
This, in itself, should highlight the importance of drinking enough water. Studies have shown that being dehydrated can negatively impact both physical and mental performance.
5) Be Socialable
As human beings, we need social contact for the good of our wellbeing – there are many scientific studies that have demonstrated this.
Therefore, one of the biggest challenges of lockdown is not being able to have regular interactions with our friends and family members.
Although we may not be able to see these people face-to-face, we do have technology that allows us to maintain contact.
While it doesn’t quite replicate physically being with people, it certainly does help to keep us connected to others.
Therefore, as much as possible, be social. Although there are many question marks surrounding applications such as Zoom, it has proved to be invaluable for me thus far.
I used the application to make regular contact with family, friends, and clients from all different parts of the world.
6) Apply The Government’s Guidance
The final point goes without saying.
While most are adhering to the Government’s guidance on social distancing, self-isolation, and infection control, unfortunately, some individuals are not.
Even yesterday when walking by the canal, there were five guys using outdoor gym equipment that had been clearly taped off.
Ultimately, if we want to maintain good health during this period, we all need to follow this advice. It is for the benefit of our own health and the health of others.