It seems to have been a lifetime ago since we first heard of coronavirus. Over the past few months staying home to stay safe has become the new norm. And while it keeps us all safe from the virus, its effects on other elements of our well-being are not so desirable.
Limited space can lead to a number of issues for your mind and body health. Limited space leads to limited movement which contributes to an increase in muscle loss, and a decline in psychological well-being.
Although it is vital to stick to the recommendations for limited contact with others and avoid crowded spaces, that doesn’t mean your health has to suffer. Here are our best tips for beating the lockdown blues while keeping your body healthy.
Three musts for your mental health
No matter how big your living space is, whenever we feel confined, this has a huge impact on our mental health. Anxiety levels rise and any underlying conditions, such as depression or insomnia can become all that much worse. That’s why it’s important you put your psychological well-being in top place. Here are our top three tips for minding your mental health during lockdown.
Meditation has long been proven to have a significant impact on psychological well-being. While we admit it does take some getting used to, it is a powerful tool to put your mind at ease.
With meditation, you can begin to control your breathing, relax your body, and calm your mind. As you practice, you’ll soon become one with yourself and lower your levels of stress. To get started you can try one of the guided meditations on our app, join Verv expert Gia on Instagram for a live meditation session, or even try this simple visualization technique.
2. Talk to others
Talking helps. It’s a fact. We, humans, are social creatures that need and crave interaction. Have you ever felt your day brightened by a chat with a true friend or perhaps even a hug from a loved one? These interactions have a powerful impact on our psyche and also on our physical health too.
If you are in lockdown with a loved one, get up right now and give them a huge bear hug. This action is proven to reduce stress levels and promote feel-good chemicals (oxytocin) in the body. It’s perfect for improving your mental health. If you’re not so lucky to have a loved one close-by, then the best thing you can do is pick up the phone or go online and get in touch with a friend.
Talking reduces stress and gives you that human connection. And luckily enough, we live in an age where communication doesn’t have to be done in person. Face time, Skype, and other technologies make it possible to communicate risk-free. So, what are you waiting for? Get your boost of Vitamin C (Conversation, that is).
It’s all connected – your mind and your body. Whenever you’re feeling down, you are less likely to exercise. And this is a Catch 22 situation as exercise is one of the best activities you can do to perk yourself up a little.
Exercise releases feel-good hormones in the body that make it easier to deal with the psychological and physical effects of stress. That’s why it’s essential that no matter how little the effort, you try to do some exercise each and every day.
P.S. We’ve got a great short routine for you below.
Your diet in lockdown
Is the snack cupboard calling? Are you boredom eating? Us too. The lockdown has had a massive impact on how and what we eat. To combat our boredom of seeing the same four walls day in and day out, we are more likely to reach for a snack in between meals for something to do.
While preventing snacking 100% isn’t always possible, nor is it the only lockdown diet issue, here are some of our tips for keeping your diet healthy when staying safe at home.
- Switch unhealthy snacks for healthier alternatives. Try natural versions of sweets such as dried fruits, create healthier desserts, and switch chips for nuts to lower your intake of bad fats and sugars.
- Cook at home. This might sound like a no-brainer when restaurants are closed. But it’s not. In lockdown, we may be more likely to order from delivery services or buy shop-made ready meals. Instead, use this time to get your diet in order and discover easy-to-cook healthy meals. You can even check out our lockdown meal-planning guide to help you.
- Create a routine. When and what you eat can be very much based on what you’re doing that day. So even if your usual routine has become a bit blurry, the worst thing you can do is let it impact your diet. Instead, adapt to your new norm and set specific times you need to eat. Leaving it too long so that hunger sets in or eating too regularly are not good for you. That’s why it’s vital you create a schedule that works for you.
Five-step workout routine
Our lives are complicated enough right now. So, why make life any more difficult. We’ve created this five-step simple routine to get you moving without adding any more stress to your life. Adding in exercise helps your body to:
- Maintain heart health and lower the risk of diabetes
- Add a boost to your balance and flexibility
- Reduce the decline in muscle mass
- Boost your mental health and help prevent depression
- Protect your joints from damage
With such great reasons to get moving. Let’s get started. Here’s how:
1. Around-the-block walk
Depending on where you live and how lockdown looks for you, this activity will work differently to suit your needs. It’s very simple. Take 30 minutes and walk around the block. This builds your leg muscles and helps you get in a little light cardio, which is great for heart health.
If you live outside the city, even better. Go for a walk outdoors or spend some time in your garden. The fresh air will liven you up and breathe new life into your soul.
What if you’re on a hard lockdown or cocooning (staying away from others)? In this case, while a little difficult, it’s important you spend some time walking inside your home. Perhaps make sure the windows are open to let in that fresh air and use those visualization techniques from earlier to imagine you’re outdoors.
2. Reach up lifts
Now that your body is warmed up from that walk, it’s time to stretch those muscles out. This exercise helps lift your body up and stretch the muscles from head to tone.
All you need to do is stand up tall. Now lifting your hands above your head reach right up. Keep going and stand on your tippy-toes, like a ballerina. Hold the pose for 3-5 seconds and release. Repeat this activity up to 5 times. Listen to your body to decide how much you can do.
3. Wall pushups
You’ve stretched out your entire body. Now let’s get those arms working with some wall pushups. Stand facing a flat wall, approximately two feet away. With your feet hip-width apart, place your hands on the wall at shoulder height.
Bend your elbows in and let yourself come closer to the wall. Now, push backward and into the original position. This activity is exactly like a regular pushup, except that it does not place as much strain on your arm muscles, allowing for a much gentler tone. Repeat up to ten times.
4. Neck flexes
Oh! Neck pain can be a pain in the neck. It’s one of those most-annoying injuries that can prevent you from engaging in activities you normally enjoy at best or cause rehabilitating pain at worst. To ensure your neck health, it’s vital you work it out each and every day.
To do so, stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Now, let’s focus on your neck. Look to one side, turn your head as far as you can without pain. Hold this pose for 3 seconds. Next, look to the other side. Hold for 3 seconds. Now, it’s time to look up. Hold for three. And, now, down. Again, hold for 3. Repeat this sequence 5 times to get the maximum benefit.
If you need some more gentle exercises for cervical pain, check out our article here.
5. Abdominal contractions
Even if you’ve no intention of hopping into a bikini anytime soon, that doesn’t mean you should neglect those abdominal muscles. Your abs are known as the core of your body for good reason. They help with balance and flexibility. So, that’s why it’s important you use the ‘use or lose it’ mentality here.
To work your abs gently, stand tall, feet hip-width apart, and place your hands on your hips. Take a deep breath in and tighten your abdominal muscles. Hold this for 3 seconds and release. Breathe out. Repeat this activity 10 times.
Bonus abs! Sitting on the sofa, raise one knee up to your chest and match it with the elbow of the opposite arm. Lower it down again and repeat with the other leg.