Your new normal: 5 ways to get back on track post-lockdown
Many of us have been waiting with bated breath for life to return to “normal”. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, parent and live. If this has been the case for you, you may be feeling a little less energised than you’d like. Thankfully, lockdown has been lifted and there’s every opportunity to get your wellbeing back on track - here are five simple tips for doing just that.
1. Get active
Physical activity has a number of benefits. For starters, it releases feel-good endorphins, so if you want an instant mood lift, get physical! Regular activity helps to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, improve sleep and increase energy levels. It also lowers blood pressure and improves muscle tone and strength. There are so many ways you can be active, so choose something you enjoy and plan it into your day. Remember to set a cue to being active, as this helps to build habits that stick. For instance - going for a walk straight after breakfast or doing an online class every single Tuesday and Thursday. Start by setting yourself an achievable goal and build up from there!
2. Feel good with food
The food you eat (both the quality and quantity) can have a huge impact on your mood, energy levels and weight. During lockdown, you may have been feeling low or bored and turned to treat foods to lift your spirits. But rather than doing good, the sugary, high calorie treats have negative consequences of their own. Look to healthy foods with long-lasting positive effects. Think fresh, colourful and unprocessed – in other words, fresh fruit and vegetables! We often tend to think of veggies as boring, but there are many ways to make vegetables taste great, making it easier to have them as the largest portion on your plate. Spend some time looking at recipes and start experimenting! Remember everyone is different so choose the vegetables you enjoy the most. Another tip is to eat slowly and mindfully, as this can help you to keep in touch with your hunger cues and reduce overeating. Try the 20:20:20 rule – Chew each mouthful 20 times, leave 20 seconds between each mouthful and take 20 minutes to eat your meal.
3. Stay hydrated
It’s easy to forget to take in fluids during the day, especially when you’re busy, but staying hydrated is a simple habit that can make a massive difference. A top tip for drinking enough water every day is to set cues in your day to have fluids. For example, having a glass of water with your morning coffee/tea, keeping a water bottle at your desk while you’re working, and taking a water bottle in your car when you’re running errands.
4. Manage your mindset
Many of us have been struggling to maintain a positive attitude during lockdown, which is completely understandable. Consider trying a few strategies to manage your mindset. These may include keeping a gratitude journal, taking time for yourself, spending time in nature, pursuing a hobby, meditating, listening to motivational audiobooks or practising mindful breathing. Also important is to be aware of the words you use when you talk to yourself and the thoughts in your mind as you go through your day - try to keep them positive.
Another important aspect of managing your wellbeing is to stay connected to your friends, family and community. Keep checking in on friends and family via phone or video chats, and make time to get out and see people in person too, including meet ups, clubs and groups, or by volunteering.
Most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself! We’re all adjusting to the new version of ‘normal’ and what this means for us. Start small. Even incorporating tiny changes into your daily routine, like taking a morning walk or having one extra serving of vegetables at lunch and dinner will add up to make a big difference over time.