Most health advice can be boiled down to eating a balance diet, exercising a few times a week and getting enough sleep. Simple right? Not during a pandemic like COVID-19 when it is crucial that we all follow the social distancing guidelines, stay at home and avoid contact with people from outside our households.
How are we supposed to eat healthily when we’re living mostly on non-perishables?
How can we maintain a work-out routine when we are cooped up at home and all gyms are shut for the foreseeable future?
How can we sleep when there is so much to be anxious about right now?
We’ve tried to answer these questions and hopefully help you at least a little to stay both physically and mentally healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The key is to have a plan before you stock up on groceries – both to ensure you pick up the right things, and to avoid panic-buying. Take stock of what is already in your cupboards, fridge and freezer and then plan around these items to cook meals consisting of a healthy carbohydrate, a protein and fresh produce.
While most people are going straight to grains and canned foods right now, it is actually a good time to buy fresh produce. You can buy fresh fruit and vegetables, cut them up and freeze them to use for months to come. Sturdy vegetables and starches like broccoli, brussel sprouts and potatoes also keep for a long time outside of the freezer.
If you do buy canned, dried or frozen foods, choose those with less than 5 grams of added sugar per serving, less than 200 milligrams of salt per serving and less than 1.5 grams of saturated fat per serving.
Jamie Oliver’s new show ‘Keep Cooking and Carry On’ is a great source of easy-to-follow, flexible recipes with a lot of useful swaps, that celebrate freezer and cupboard favourites. Find all recipes here: Keep Cooking and Carry On
If you are looking for healthy, nutritional and wholesome meal ideas, Rhiannon Lambert’s Instagram account might quickly become your new favourite.
Stress eating is a common reaction to boredom and anxiety. Your best defense against it is to recognise that it is happening and to try to channel those feelings elsewhere, whether talking to a friend, reading a good book, writing down your feelings or doing something physical like gardening or working out.
The gyms and leisure centers across the country are shut, but you can still walk, run or cycle outside as long as you keep a safe distance from other people. Many gyms and personal trainers are also offering virtual classes.
If you want to work out at home but don’t have any equipment you can get creative with things you already own. For example, you can use wine bottles for dumbbells, towels for sliders, fill a backpack with books and use as a weight for exercises like lunges and squats. There are also plenty of body weight exercises – like burpees, sit-ups, planks, push-ups and mountain climbers – you can do in a small space at home. Choose five moves and do each one for a minute, repeating the circuit three to five times.
If you are looking for easy to follow at-home-routines check out the SWEAT or these accounts:
Don’t forget that physical activity doesn’t have to mean a gym-style workout. Everyday activities like walking, gardening and cleaning also improve your overall health. Any amount of movement you can squeeze in counts.
Stress & Sleep
Managing stress and anxiety is crucial for maintaining your mental health and getting enough sleep. Yoga and meditation are great practices that can be done in a small space. Check if your local studio is streaming guided classes. You can also use apps like Headspace, Serenity and Calm for guided mediation and mindfulness.
The World Health Organisation also advices to ‘limit worry and agitation by lessening the time you and your family spend watching or listening to media coverage that you perceive as upsetting’ and to ‘gather information that will help you accurately determine your risk so that you can take reasonable precautions.’