We have entered truly uncertain times. Many of us have lost our routines and the daily lifestyle we have grown accustomed to, from going to work, to going to the gym, to accessing our local cafes and seeing our friends and family on a regular basis. Routine and predictability provide an incredible sense of comfort and safety. Not knowing what’s next, when things will return to normal again and what that new normal will look like is very unsettling. While we can’t answer any of those questions for you unfortunately because we are all in this together, there are some things you can do to try and alleviate your stress and make this time more manageable and pleasant.
The very first thing you can do is take a few minutes every day to focus your attention towards what is still good in your life. I would recommend writing this down every morning and evening as well as whenever you feel your mind needs refocussing. You could start your lists with: “I am grateful that:” and include things like: “I am healthy, I have a nice home, I am safe, I have my parents, I have a loving dog, I have my work, I have great friends” etc. This will train your mind to focus on the positives and away from the negatives. Even though things are tough, we still have a lot to be grateful for so try and make yourself aware of that.
Another great thing you can do is become a part of a community around you that helps those in need. This can include calling others who may be isolated and lonely, going shopping for them or walking their dogs, amongst other things. Try and connect with other, like minded people, which will keep you connected to the community and might even end up leading to new friendships. You are also helping others in need, which is a powerful way to not only provide you with an understanding of how wonderful and needed you are but also puts your worries into perspective.
You can also use this time to start walking more and moving more in general. You can try out new ways of exercising and see if you discover activities you might truly enjoy. There are a lot of free workout videos on Youtube from yoga to boxing to pilates and weight lifting. Give them a try and see what you might enjoy. This will improve your energy levels, help you stay more positive and improve your physique to boot. We are all moving so much less now, which can have really negative effects on our physical and mental well-being so make sure you use your exercise time to go for walks and try and do a little workout at home as often as possible. You only have one body so treat it with kindness.
Your body also needs special attention now when it comes to nutrition. It is under a lot of stress so, if possible, try and support it with healthy food options. While fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, lean proteins, legumes, nuts and grains are always the ideal options, frozen and canned are also good, accessible options right now. Just make sure that frozen and canned options have nothing but water added to e.g. beans / lentils / peas / carrots and try and opt for wholegrain rice, bread, cereal and pasta options where possible. If you would like to watch your portions this is a great time to download a calorie tracker and read the ingredient lists to understand what you are putting into your body. Most importantly, consume a lot of vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices topped with some lean protein like fish, chicken, eggs, natural yoghurt, beans or lentils and some healthy fats like nuts, seeds, olive oil or oily fish and try and be kind to yourself. Now is not the time to focus on being perfect but to do the best with what is accessible to you.
Finally, try and use this time to reach out to your friends and family. Chances are they are just as bored, worried, lonely or scared as you are and sharing always helps. We are all in this together and we can keep each other strong. Let the people in your life know that you love and appreciate them and that you’re here for them. Your love and support are more powerful than you think.
NHS Nutritionist & The DRC Lead Lifestyle Nutritionist
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