I don’t know about you but the uncertainty, fear and fast developing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has made me feel anxious, angry, overwhelmed and helpless in equal measures over the last few weeks. And I don’t like feeling like I am not in control.
It took me about 48 hours to realise that I needed to let go of “feeling like I wasn’t in control” and embrace what I could control – my own health and wellbeing habits and routine.
I’ve been making my health and wellbeing a priority for a long time now. I’ll admit there are days when it doesn’t go as planned but what I have learned over the years is that there are three things that really help me keep on track.
The first is having a daily routine that incorporates not just work, family and social commitments but also includes my personal health and wellbeing commitments like exercise, meditation, yoga or time out. I used to write this down daily on paper so I could stick to the plan. These days I mostly do the planning in my head but when I’m feeling out of control or overwhelmed I revert to writing it down again. This has really helped me stick to my plan and turn it into a habit.
The second thing is to be kind to myself and not beat myself up if I don’t get to do everything or even anything in my plan. There are days where this happens and it is really important to stay in the moment, stay positive and start the next day with the best intentions.
The third thing is do not feel guilty about prioritising health and wellbeing. I used to feel guilty when I’d go for my walk or take time out to go to a yoga class. This took time for me to overcome but eventually I did and what really helped was to have my routine or plan mapped out daily. This helped me to realise I was not reneging on any of my work or family commitments or letting anyone down, and that I was happier, healthier and more productive as a result.
It’s also important to pay attention to the foundations of health and wellbeing – things like good nutrition, sleep, sunshine and movement. Here are some tips for getting the foundations right.
Make vegetables and fruits the foundation of your eating, and you will be nourishing your body with the key nutrients it needs for a strong immune system. The key is to eat a wide variety everyday and choose as many different colours as you can. At this time, increase foods that contain key nutrients we know have a role or impact in a well functioning immune system. Foods like citrus fruits, capsicum, broccoli, strawberries and kiwifruit are rich in Vitamin C (plays an important role in the mobilisation of your immune system defence). Zinc is another important nutrient for a healthy immune system and foods like meat, eggs, seafood, nuts (especially cashews) and seeds (pumpkin and sesame) are rich in zinc. You can also add some special immune boosting foods like ginger, citrus, garlic, shiitake and reishi mushrooms and turmeric as they provide nutrients and compounds with amazing medicinal properties. For example Shiitake and Reishi mushrooms contain beta-glucans which are known for their immune enhancing properties while garlic has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.
Sleep and rest is so important for preventing illness and helping the body to heal when sick. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep and when the first signs of a cold or ailment appear give your body time to heal by resting.
Moving and being active daily is one of the best things you can do for your health. It helps to lower your risk for a number of chronic diseases, and also helps to manage stress, improve sleep, and boost mood. Try to find ways that you can exercise while maintaining social distancing—such as going for a brisk walk, bike ride or sign up to online yoga or exercise videos.
Get outside into nature if you can, and get some fresh air and vitamin D from the sun.
Staying connected is also really important to physical and mental health but not so easy now that we are being asked to practice social distancing. Social connection also provides an immune-boosting benefit. Fortunately most of us have access to telephones and internet so make sure you phone or video chat with family and friends daily during this time.
I hope these tips will give you comfort, inspiration and practical things you can embrace to take control of your health and wellbeing in this difficult time. Take care!