Simple health tips to follow during isolation or lockdown 🌱

Today I found myself in bed for an hour with a headache in the morning. I felt it behind my eyes as well, making my eyes feel really strained. I decided to take the day off work and spend some time doing activities that were completely away from a screen. I work in software engineering, so although I am fortunate enough to work from home, it does mean I am sitting at my desk for long periods of time. I’ve become increasingly aware of the impact this can have on my health, especially because I usually commute to an office daily, and go for regular walks and breaks, even for meetings – and at home, the meetings are all online and I’m still looking at a screen. 😩

Herbal tea served in two glasses, taken from above
(📸: congerdesign)

There are many of us who aren’t working from home, but are still struggling to be active and make sure we are in good health. In Australia, restrictions have started to ease, and restaurants and cafes are now allowed to accomodate a maximum of ten people. But apart from staying safe from COVID-19 by washing our hands regularly and maintaining good hygiene, how else can we maintain our health? Here are some things I’ve been trying to do or have been keeping in mind – hopefully it serves as a reminder for you to keep healthy too. 🍎

Reduce your screen time

Of course this was coming up first! Many of us use our phones, computers, and television screens almost every day, and may be using them even more so when we are in isolation. Today, I decided to do some deep cleaning of the kitchen and do a couple of loads of laundry. I even took the time to hand-wash some of my delicate clothes – which I often get lazy about. I also took the time to mindfully eat my meals instead of browsing the internet while eating.

Reducing your screen time might sound difficult if you do many things online, but there are a few options. You can sit outside or by a window and read a physical book instead of reading from a screen. Engage in activities like cooking, craft, or playing musical instruments, and if you don’t have many hobbies away from a screen, you can do housework like I did today. 😊 You might have an alternative for doing things online, too – swap online games for board games, or have a voice call with your friends and family instead of constantly messaging back and forth.

Sometimes we might have no choice but to use a screen, but it’s always useful to take regular breaks, and do something away from the screen, even take a walk outside. Some phones and computers have software that can dim the screen or reduce the blue light coming from the screen, which is a good idea to do in the evening. I know of some people who have it on all the time, too. Using some kind of dark mode on your screens can also help reduce eye strain (at least it does for me!). Feel free to toggle the dark mode on my blog in the top right corner! 🌒

Exercise regularly 

When you are stuck at home, you are not very active. Some of us have taken to at-home workouts, but if you already had a very inactive lifestyle, you now may not be moving around at all, which is not good for your health. Exercising benefits everyone – we’re not talking about lifting heavy weights or getting a six-pack, but we’re talking about healthy movement. A walk in the park, around the block, or somehow finding a way to work in 100 star jumps or jumping jacks over the course of the day. Prolonged lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain and other problems later in life. Additionally, staying active and getting out of the house is good for both your physical and mental health, as long as you’re following the guidelines put forward by your state/country.

There are home workout videos popping up all over social media now, and though they may be daunting, remember that you can find some exercise to do, no matter your fitness level. Personally, I have been working out with dumbbells at home. Nick and I usually go to the gym five to six times a week, but invested in the dumbbells after gyms closed. If you are working out at home, you might like to consider either dialling back on, or refining, your current supplement stack. The optimal timing for pre-workouts can depend on whether your pre-workout contains caffeine, and when else you might consume caffeine. I’ve been making use of a caffeine-free pre-workout while at home, especially if I am working out later in the evening.

There are some days I don’t feel like exercising, but because I have an Apple Watch I feel like I must try to get in the recommended 30 minutes of exercise. 🤭 You have no idea how many times I’ve actually just run around my apartment to get my heart rate up and meet that goal! At home, no one will judge you – I’ve been dancing during my workouts, too. P.S. Dancing is also a form of exercise, as is yoga and stretching.

Don’t neglect health checkups 

A lot of people are unsure whether they can go to the doctor for their normal health checkups or treatments, but you should! Medical services are stretched at the moment so you shouldn’t be going in for unnecessary reasons, but you should still go in for important appointments and checkups. If you can get a flu shot, it’s not a bad idea to do so. I’m due for a blood test in a few weeks’ time – I get one every six months to get my cholesterol checked – and I still plan to go to the doctor for that purpose, of course while maintaining my distance and good hygiene. 🙂 I also have friends and family members who have been going to the doctor when they have fallen ill, even though we are taking more precautionary measures.

Some medical facilities might also offer a service where the doctor can visit you at home if you are too ill, at greater risk of COVID-19 infection, or somehow cannot physically visit a medical practice. My doctor also informed me that if I need her just to get a new prescription for my usual medicine, I can actually give her a call instead of coming in.

Eat as healthily as you can

When you are stuck at home all of the time, it’s easy to fall into bad eating habits. When you are eating badly, you are more likely to gain weight, especially if you are stuck at home and not exercising regularly. Your energy levels and mental health can also be affected. Your immune system is compromised if you aren’t getting enough vitamins as well, so it’s important that you eat as healthily as you can.

You can start planning your meals each week so you can purchase all your groceries in one big shopping trip, or make healthier options if you’re going to get takeaway. Grab a salad or some salmon (good fish!), and choose cleaner options as opposed to fast food. If you’re vegan, certain apps made for vegans can be really handy for sourcing recipe ingredients or locating takeaway options nearby. But yep, I’ve been there – I’ve been lazy too, and sometimes I don’t want to cook up a healthy meal. But always remember: everything in moderation. If you’re going to snack and have some candy or have something naughty, make sure it’s not too often, and make sure you eat enough of the right foods.

Stay in touch with friends and family

When you are isolated from your friends and family, it takes a big toll on your mental health, especially for those of us who are more extroverted and get our energy from being around others. It’s important that you stay in touch with friends and family during this difficult time so you have a network of support, but that they do too. 💙

If you are struggling with your mental health, make sure that you talk to someone and don’t keep it in. You’re not alone in your struggle – and mental health awareness is now more prominent and more important than it ever has been. There are some positive stories and words of encouragement being shared on social media, so if you use social media regularly, make sure you read more of the positive messaging and less of the toxic, negative messaging.

If you’re able to work from home, try to remain connected with your colleagues by scheduling coffee chats on Zoom, or organise to order something to be delivered to the people you work with closely. Stay for a chat after meetings, or introduce things into your email or chat communication that keeps things light-hearted and fun. One of my teams at work have started sharing a random song lyric in our daily updates, and the next person has to type out the next line with a relevant emoji. Little things can help you feel like you’re still getting enough of that human interaction and connecting with others.

While this might be a list of things you already know or have heard about, I hope it serves as a reminder that we’re all going through this struggle together, and that these are things we all have the ability to do to help get us through and come out strong on the other side.

You can do a little bit of all of these things – any effort is some effort and is better than nothing at all. 💝

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