Surviving lockdown (again!)
I am going to share with you and run through some very basic tools to help you through these difficult times.
They are very simple, but do not underestimate the power that they can have in helping and supporting people who are overwhelmed with the balance of work, kids, home-schooling, managing the home and not being able to get outside as much as they would like. It can become extremely overwhelming and because of that, we need to go back to basics.
I know it sounds obvious but good nutrition is extremely important. We have had total lockdown in 2020 and restrictions imposed by the tier process interspersed with holidays and celebrations such as VE Day, Christmas and New Year. We have not had much to look forward over the year and to compensate many have focused on food and drink. It is completely understandable but over that time, we know that the general population has packed on a few pounds; on average in about 15 pounds is what I am told people have gained over the last few months since we have been in this lockdown situation.
While the comfort of food and drink can feel good initially, it does not take very long before It starts to make us feel sluggish, tired and for us to become less active. If we have underlying health problems the increase in weight can be felt, for example if you have arthritis being a little bit heavier can exacerbate that, making those symptoms much harder to deal with. Research has shown a 10% drop in weight equates to a 40% drop in stresses through the knee joints which is significant if you suffer from arthritis of the knees.
As you know I am a massive advocate of being confident in your own body, and I truly believe that that’s the way that we feel good about ourselves and the process through which we can make changes.
Just being a bit more mindful about your nutrition or nutrition generally at this stage can be a good thing. If you feel you are putting good things into your body, you feel that you are getting the right energy levels and avoiding those peaks and troughs from a sugar rush.
One of the things that I do advocate if you are trying to lose a bit of weight is reducing the amount of simple carbohydrates that you eat, things like rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread. These carbohydrates are quite dense in calories, but do not provide a huge content in terms of vitamins and minerals. You can easily get the vitamins and minerals you need from other things that are perhaps less calorie dense, but more filling or from healthy fats which, although contain more calories, will also leave you feeling fuller for longer and are an essential part of good nuturition.
So really think about what it is that you are eating and drinking, do you really need that second glass of wine? I know sometimes the answer is absolutely! Yes, I do!! But think about what you eat, what you drink and always think about increasing your water intake. Now this can be water, that has got a little bit of juice in it. It can be flavored with a cold tea bags, anything like that, anything that increases your intake of water is going to be good for your energy, for your clarity of thinking and for your skin, which is amazing as well.
I take supplements of vitamins and iron each day. The last couple of years I have been using the dissolvable versions each in a separate pint glass and the reason for that is purely because then I know that I am drinking more water, it’s a good way of increasing my daily water intake!
Exercise does not have to be arduous. I am one of those annoying people that tends to fall out of bed into my trainers, and I will go out and do a run in the morning, the reason that hauled myself out bed into my trainers is it purely because for the first mile or so I am fast asleep pretty much so I don’t really wake up until I am on my way back!
My runs make me feel better in the morning, wake me up and give me that input of energy to start the day. Even when I really do not feel like going, once I am out the door and start stretching out, it makes me feel physically better. I do it because I enjoy doing it if I did not enjoy it, I would not do it.
So, find something that you enjoy, it does not have to do a heavy workout. You do not have to get to the gym. If your thing is bouncing around the kitchen music blasting out in the morning, do that. If you love a little bit of calm yoga or Pilates do that, do what brings you joy and makes you feel better?
Exercise should not be arduous, if it is simply a case of getting out at lunchtime for a 15-minute walk and fresh air do that, something is better than nothing. I was on a forum the other day when people were talking about running every day, how it was difficult, and it put them under pressure and raised their stress levels. It does not need to be about running every day. It is about doing something every day, be it a walk or a short workout. Joe Wicks is back on our screens. I really like the guy he makes me laugh; others hate it but if that’s you, just find something you like – there are tons of options out there!
I would say, if you can find something that really lightens exercise for you, that makes it fun, that you enjoy and brings a little bit more movement and exercise into your life, work in into a daily plan. We are human beings, by definition, we like a routine, it makes us feel safe. So, by having a daily plan, knowing what we are doing each day, it gives us that security. It gives us that little bit of control that when everything else in the world is going wrong, that is not within our control, we can take control of this, we can make this ours and that is very important. I am not talking about full itemized diary, timetabled with breaks and lunches. But I am talking about one thing, ie, tomorrow I am going to make a phone call to such and such a person. The next day I will run, the next day I might go for a walk with a friend. You have a daily plan of things that you are going to do. It’s just about making sure that your days are not filled with nothingness or equally, if your days are filled with chaos, because you are trying to work from home and have children etc, you have planned one thing in a day, even if it is just five minutes that is for you. It might be a bath, it might be something that gives you that 10 minutes to calm down, maybe listen to a little bit of music or read a book, do something for yourself, make it part of your plan for that day, part of your routine.
It will help you to have that security; build in something for yourself and feel a bit better. It is important to do it because we are all involved the current situation and often, we put ourselves at the back of the queue of priorities; it is the old adage about putting your oxygen mask on first, before you can save anybody else.
The last area I want to talk about is sleep. I know from talking to my menopause ladies sleep certainly is causing problems for a lot of us at the moment. I know with the ongoing stress and worries around lockdown, COVID, around homeschooling, working from home and raising children, sleep can be one thing that really takes a hit. So, what can we do to optimize this?
It is not easy, I am not pretending that there are any real quick fixes, but good sleep hygiene routine really helps people. What I mean by sleep hygiene is to follow some simple steps to allow you to be in the right place to sleep. Things such as two hours before you’re planning on going to sleep switch off or remove electrics. Think about reading a book, having a nice bath, not hot because that will wake you up, but a nice, comfortable, warm bath or shower, maybe some nice candles which smell lovely and make you feel chilled out, listen to some music, something that’s calming. More relaxed than perhaps you would be if you were flicking through Facebook, playing X-Box or other things that stimulate your brain from an electrical point of view.
Think about developing a good nighttime sleep hygiene routine that doesn’t involve copious amounts of teas and coffees, because that will keep you awake as well. Try a nice warm chocolate or malt drink something that that is comforting at the end of the day. A good idea is not to have a supper less than a couple of hours before you go to bed because your digestive system will be busy at work preventing you from getting to sleep. What you want is to be giving your mind and body that chance to relax. Make sure that you have not eaten a lot right before you go into bed. You have not been wired to electrics, but you have done the things that make you calm, even going for a walk a couple of hours before bedtime, any one of those things that you can build in as part of your daily routine would be good.
I know it is difficult when you are juggling kids at bedtime, screaming at somebody to get off the X-Box, maybe you’ve got small child that is waking up and crying through the night. There are so many distractions, I am not naïve, I am not suggesting that we all live in a beautiful little world where we can have these amazing experiences on a daily basis, but by building these things in, when you realistically can, is going to help – is going to give you a better quality of sleep and set you up better for the next day.
I have put together a daily planner, my gift to you! The link to it is: (1) Facebook. You can laminate it and fill it in each week if you want and then just wipe it off or print off a few copies if you like, and just use a new one each week. It is a prompt to help you think what you are doing around food and exercise. Plan out what you’re going to eat for each mealtime, and then maybe plan out a little bit of exercise for each day, your little bit of routine.
You can write in your pre sleep routine, what you are aiming for, even if you can’t achieve it every day. The fact that you’ve set your intention can help achieve focus.
Wishing everyone health, joy and happiness at this really stressful time. As always please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions or there’s anything we can help you with.