As we continue to live through completely unprecedented times, almost all of us are facing changes to our daily lives and routines. Aside from the precautions we’re taking to keep ourselves and others healthy, it’s more important than ever to focus on personal wellbeing.
Here, Harley Street Nutritionist Kim Pearson offers advice on how to prioritise self-care during the lockdown, with seven simple steps.
Stress can make it harder to sleep, and a lack of sleep can make you feel more stressed. It’s a vicious cycle that may be challenging for many right now, so make sure you’re taking steps to promote a good night’s sleep.
As well as establishing a regular bedtime and avoiding caffeine in the afternoons, our diet plays a vital role in the quality of sleep we’re able to achieve.
Aim to have your last meal of the day around two to three hours before bedtime and have a meal based around lean protein and plenty of vegetables, avoiding sugary foods.
Taking a relaxing bath before bed with sleep-promoting magnesium flakes can be a great way to wind down and help you drift off more easily.
You might be tired of hearing people advise you to boost your wellbeing through exercise, but the fact is, it works.
Not only does keeping active help to manage your weight when you’re staying in more than usual, but even a short burst of movement can help to lift your mood and raise self-esteem while helping to control stress and anxiety.
Try a daily walk or run outside if possible (which will also help to top-up your vitamin D levels) or download a workout app to help to keep you motivated.
If getting outside is not an option for you, then ensure you are supplementing your diet with vitamin D. Essential for strong bones and teeth, vitamin D also supports the immune system, so it’s important that you are getting your daily recommended dose.
Speaking of your daily exercise allowance, getting outdoors is another great way to boost your overall wellbeing.
Ecotherapy (being in nature), is a big wellness trend right now and while we’re all staying closer to home, if you’re lucky enough to live near open space or woodland, make the most of it as being surrounded by nature can help to lift your mood.
Natural light is also key for maintaining our circadian rhythms, so try to get some sunlight in the mornings to keep your sleep cycle regular. If you can’t physically get outside, sitting in sunlight indoors to have your morning cup of tea or moving your desk to a sunny spot will work, too.
As tempting as it might be to turn to sugary comfort foods, a healthy, nutrient-dense diet is more important than ever. A balanced diet provides the nutrients we need for energy production, protecting our cells from damage and boosting our immune health, that’s just for a start.
Base your meals around a healthy protein source such as eggs, seafood, fish or organic meat (or healthy vegan proteins such as tofu and tempeh). Add a variety of antioxidant-rich vegetables or salad, the more colourful and varied the better. Finish off with healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
Starting the day with a substantial protein smoothie is a great way to set you up for the day. Blend together a handful of mixed frozen berries, a scoop of vegan berry protein powder, a large chunk of courgette plus half an avocado, and it’s sure to keep you energised until lunch.
How are you?
We’re used to asking each other how we’re doing (even more than usual at the moment) but how often do you check in with yourself?
Now is the time to get into the habit of checking in with yourself and ensuring all your needs are being met. Daily meditation practice is a great way to increase your self-awareness and help to ease stress through living in the present moment.
With our normal daily routine out the window, self-care practices might well have disappeared from your daily schedule.
We all use different practices to stay mentally healthy and happy, whether it’s spending an hour reading before bed, taking a bubble bath, having a massage, doing a creative course or working on self-development. These might have to adapt to your current way of life, but it’s important to schedule a daily self-care activity.
Be Kind to Yourself
Remember to be kind and limit the pressure you are placing on yourself to adjust and thrive under these conditions.
Everyone’s circumstances are different; some people are taking time off work or working fewer hours so that they have plenty of time to concentrate on self-improvement, while others suddenly have children at home and are working full-time, juggling a million things at once and feeling frazzled.
Allow yourself to accept your current situation as a temporary norm and congratulate yourself on how well you are doing under extraordinary conditions. This too, shall pass.
For more news and views from the experts, visit www.betteryou.com/health-hub.
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