How to get out of COVID19 iso with our health intact…
When I sat down at the start of the year to list my personal, health and business goals I did not factor in a global pandemic.
Call me crazy, but I don’t think many people did.
I am guessing I’m not the only person who is currently trying to figure out;
- how to run my business completely online from home,
- how to monitor and educate my kids at the same time,
- get some healthy movement in for all of us (but in an appropriate and socially distant way),
- how to have fun family time,
- how to ensure we don’t sink into an abyss of baked goods and take away,
- how to wax myself with zero experience or skills,
- how to avoid Tiger King on Netflix for fear of binge watching.
All this whilst not turning to the trusty and faithful bottle of wine every night….
And it’s fair to also say that I feel like screaming at the next person who utters the word “unprecedented”, but I lack the vocabulary to come up with anything more appropriate so unprecedented times it is then.
The things that kept me sane and happy are no longer available to me. My gym and those there that lifted me up. My in-person best mate peeps and chick nights. My face to face patients. My hairdresser. My beauty therapist. My “dine in section” of my favourite coffee shop. (Except Kylie from Shabby Sisters, bless you and every other online shop that still offers me pretty things).
I am trained in nutrition and exercise and I will admit that one of the first coping mechanisms that I had was to drink too much red wine and eat some junk food. I would say that there is a better than average chance I’m not alone on this.
And whilst I reigned in my behaviour pretty quick because I recognised the unhealthy nature of it and the slippery slope I was on, it did make me think about what the longer-term health impacts that iso could bring us. Sitting for long periods. Encouraged to get take away. More Netflix. Later to bed nights (cause why get up?). Less social contact. Less opportunity for person to person movement. Increased stress from every angle.
So, I sat down and thought about all the things that we could do to make sure we get through COVID19 in a relatively healthy state and I came up with the top 5 things that I would recommend….
- Routine, routine, routine
It might sound super boring, but our bodies are actually built to like a routine. Our brains relationship with the sun is the ultimate over riding routine, and study after study shows us that other organs in our body work to a rhythm and routine too. Get to bed at a reasonable hour (ideally before 10.30pm) and get up, have a shower, get dressed. Time your food to a regular routine that works for you. Schedule some movement as part of your routine. If you have the ability to plan your work then schedule it to a routine too. If there is no reason to get up as early as you used to you might be tempted to stay up late and then sleep in. There has been a plethora of research over the years about shift workers and the impact on their health when they work against the natural light / dark, awake / sleep routine our brain wants. Every single one shows an increase in chronic diseases (which happened quickly, not after years).
Also – and maybe this could just be me – I feel like right now there is a lot that is out of my control. Setting a weekly routine has really made me feel like I have some control back in my life.
- Plan your meals
This is for a bunch of reasons. Firstly, never have we been so encouraged to stay away from the shops. Now is a great chance to plan your meals in advance so you can do one big shop and then stay away for as long as you can. Also, for those of us that are working from home then we have the opportunity to be able to prep them better than we might have before as we don’t have the same travel time. Wowsers, imagine having 5 serves of veg in a day! I get that you want to support your local restaurant of café – me too - but is every night really appropriate? See step 1 and plan that take away meal into your routine. In many ways we have less distractions now – this is the greatest chance many of us will have to investigate and make healthy options. Have a target – one new healthy recipe a week. There are A LOT of sites that can help you with this.
Some of my fertility patients have said to me that maybe this is not a great time to be thinking about babies – but to me, this is THE perfect time for preconception care. Same with some of my hormone imbalance patients. What a time to nail those healthy food routines that you have been putting off. Once you have formed the routine it is going to be so much easier to keep it when we go back to whatever our new normal will be.
There are 1 million reasons for you to move. Perhaps an exaggeration but it’s gotta be close. One thing I know to be true and that is you become what you do consistently. If you sit down all the time your circulation will be impaired, your muscle will waste, your body posture will change (and set you up for joint and back/neck pain later on). Your brain chemistry changes and you are more likely to be depressed and anxious. Your body will reflect what you do. If you don’t know where to start then just start with a brisk walk and follow it up with some squats (getting up and down off a seat is fine), some push ups from knees or standing against a wall, step ups to a sturdy stool or some side to side leaps / steps. The hardest part is always the start – see step 1 and put it into your routine. Start with the achievable, maybe 3 sessions of 25 mins a week and then go from there. If you need some inspo for your fitspo then just look at what is offered online. Every good gym is offering some sort of at home or online programming and often at a very reasonable price (or free).
- Breathe and connect to being outside
I forgot this early and went into action mode too quickly without stopping. Wasn’t until I had a bit of a black day that I realised that I made the mistake of not taking time out everyday to put my feet on the grass and do some deep breathing. Sounds really simple but taking the time to breathe slowly and deeply is the cheapest and quickest way to chill out your nervous system. We have been advised that we are in this for an endurance race and not a sprint. Any good athlete will tell you that longevity in a competition is all about the breathing!
As for being outside, well again there is study after study that shows us that time spent in nature increases our health.
Plus – its just bloody nice outside and you can still do that and maintain social distance!!! Winning!
- Have some alcohol-free days
This last one is a biggie when you are working from home. Or if you are a mum trying to teach your kids. Or if you have lost your job or your business. Or if you are stressed. Or if you are lonely.
I’m not saying don’t drink at all, I’m just saying be really careful if you are starting to rely on alcohol as the only means to relax or to be able to go to sleep. Alcohol can affect everything; gut health, skin health, hormone and reproductive health, mental health, kidney and liver health, heart health. I encourage a glass of red now and then (especially a good Barossa Shiraz), but if you find yourself getting through a bottle every day then there is an overwhelming chance that you are headed for some health trouble somewhere in your future.
And I guess that’s the thing isn’t it.
This is not forever even if it feels like it.
I’m not trying to be one of those really annoying always positive people, but I do think that for many of us we can turn this into an opportunity to break poor habits that have not served us well in the past and replace them with healthy habits.
Life is going to exist beyond iso and you can make the choice as to what that will look like for you.
If you need a hand, then please reach out.
Verve Natural Health
(Naturopath, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer)
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