As the owner of a physiotherapy, sports injury and wellbeing clinic, it has been my passion for many years to provide one2one clients with advice and support for their overall health and wellbeing. Now more than ever, our clients face huge challenges and I would like to reassure you that the team at one2one is here to help and support you.
No doubt everyone is feeling unsettled right now. You may be experiencing emotions such as fear, panic, anxiety, worry, stress, anger, guilt, boredom, loneliness. Possibly feeling hopeless and not in control.
Many of us will be struggling with the social distancing/self isolation. Here’s just some of the ways you may be struggling:
- Trying to juggle work whilst looking after your children and feeling like you don’t have the time or skills to home school.
- Maybe the separation from your loved ones is causing real heartache particularly if they are unwell and you’re unable to see them.
- The lack of personal space could be making you feeling claustrophobic.
- Perhaps your relationship was strained before the lock down and you’re struggling to spend all day every day with that person.
- Maybe you live on your own and the loneliness and boredom is hard to cope with.
- You could simply be struggling because you need time outdoors for your mental wellbeing and being stuck at home makes you feel low and possibly depressed.
Any of these sound familiar?
No matter what you’re struggling with, we all need to find a way to cope with the situation. The best thing we can do right now is to look after ourselves and one another so we are as healthy as possible.
The NHS is under huge strain treating coronavirus patients, so we need to make sure we are adhering to the government guidelines of staying at home to minimize the spread of the disease. By looking after our own health, we will reduce the pressure on the NHS by being better equipped to fight the disease if we were to become infected and also minimise the chance of needing NHS services for other medical conditions.
When working optimally, our immune system does a remarkable job of defending us against bacteria and viruses. There are several factors that can affect our immune system and limit its ability to function well such as sleep, diet, stress, hygiene, smoking and alcohol.
I have written down a few tips on how to stay healthy – physically, mentally and emotionally to boost your immune system during social distancing and self isolation. I hope you find them helpful:
- Create and stick to a daily routine. Try to keep your wake up and bedtimes as normal as you can. Get dressed into day clothes each morning and stick to the routine you have set yourself. Remember to include your work times, break times, activities etc. This will be really beneficial for your mental wellbeing.
- Get the recommended hours of sleep every night. Try not to sleep too much or too little as this will affect your health. Check out our blog by physiotherapist Annie Williams for more information on sleep www.one2onetherapy.net/the-link-between-sleep-and-wellbeing
- Eat well and stay hydrated. Try to eat healthy nutritious foods (plenty of fruits and vegetables) and stick to regular meal times avoiding sugary snacks and drinks. Aim to drink 6-8 cups of fluid every day. For more information on eating well, check out our blog by Dietitian Aisling Pigott www.one2onetherapy.net/eating-well-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic
- Stay Active. Try to exercise every day for a healthy mind and body. It’s important to carry out a mixture of aerobic activities (walking, jogging/running, cycling, dancing etc. ) and strength exercises (using weights, body weight, resistance bands, heavy digging/gardening, walking up stairs/hills). If you need help or ideas on how to exercise at home, check out the videos on our coronavirus support page or take a look at our online class timetable.
- Get outdoors where possible. The UK Government currently recommends that one form of outdoor exercise per day can be carried out during this time. Only do this if you are able to safely. Try to spend time in your garden (if you have one) watching the birds and being around nature. It benefits your mental wellbeing by reducing stress, making you feel more relaxed and improves your mood.
- Stay connected with friends, family and neighbours. Human beings are social creatures and we need to interact with others. Positive relationships and shared activities contribute to our wellbeing. Try to stay connected via video messaging or on the telephone rather than text. Interact with your neighbours when they’re outdoors (from a safe distance of course).
- Take steps to avoid infection. Practice good hygiene such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Limit how much and what you’re exposed to when it comes to Technology. Use screen time productively to stay connected with family and friends. Limit how much time you spend watching/reading the news and scrolling through social media as this can feed your worries and make them worse. Try to embrace TV programmes, films, music and social media posts that are fun and light-hearted to boost your mood.
- Don’t smoke and drink alcohol in moderation. Your immune system will thank you for it.
- Maintain a healthy weight if possible. Try not to eat more than your recommended daily calorie intake (2,200 kcal for men 2,000kcal for women). It is quite tempting to eat more due to boredom or because of emotional stress. Obesity can weaken the body’s immune system and reduce its ability to fight off infections. However, extreme dieting or rapid weight loss is not recommended during this period as it could actually reduce immunity and make you more susceptible to infections.
- Get Creative. Now is the perfect opportunity to try a new creative skill (paint, draw, dance, sing, write, cook, DIY, build a den, make up a new game etc) Creativity helps to express our feelings, allows us to have fun and creates feelings of accomplishment and pride. This reduces stress and anxiety, allowing us to feel calmer and happier.
- Read. Research shows that regular reading reduces stress, fights depression symptoms and lowers blood pressure and heart rate. It’s a fantastic way to temporarily escape into your own world and forget about what’s going on. There are so many other benefits of reading too and if you have children it’s a great way to bond whilst they are learning and improving their vocabulary.
- Sing! Singing is known to release endorphins, the feel-good brain chemical that makes you feel uplifted and happy which helps with feelings of stress and depression. It’s a great workout for your lungs and will strengthen your diaphragm and boost oxygen levels. Research also suggests that singing strengthens the immune system.
- Let go of negative emotions and thoughts. Holding onto them will increase your stress and anxiety levels and make you feel low and possibly depressed.
- Carry out regular deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing decreases stress and anxiety and has a natural calming effect on the mind and body. They can also help to ‘let go’ of negative thoughts and emotions. Try some of the breathing exercises on our coronavirus support page.
- Live Mindfully. When you live mindfully you are being fully present in any given moment. Your attention is focussed on the task at hand instead of focussing on all the other thoughts in your head. Mindfulness has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. If you would like to practise some mindfulness techniques, visit our coronavirus support page. Our Mindfulness Teacher Suzanne Williams (@Mindfulesswithsoul) has posted videos for both adults and children.
- Write a diary or Journal. Writing down your feelings helps to organise your thoughts, reflect on your day and let go of emotions. It’s a good way to relieve stress before you go to bed.
- Being Grateful. Research has shown that being grateful increases happiness, enhances empathy, improves sleep and reduces depression. Every morning and evening say/write down 3 things you are grateful for.
- Be kind to yourself and others. Kindness boosts your mood and lowers your stress. Sometimes it’s easy to be kind to others yet we can be really hard on ourselves. Try not to be judgemental of yourself, instead give yourself praise and a pat on the back.
- Have fun! Spend time having fun – playing with your children, dancing, singing, telling jokes, watching a comedy etc. Laughing reduces stress and promotes wellbeing by increasing the release of endorphins by your brain.
I hope my top tips are helpful during this challenging time. You can find more information on our dedicated coronavirus support page www.one2onetherapy.net/coronavirus-support/ and our support group on Facebook – one2one Support Group COVID-19. If you’re struggling to cope, please get in touch and I will do my best to help. We are all in this together!
Stay safe and look after yourself,
Rhian & Team