Staying mentally and physically fit whilst "social distancing".

Tips, tricks and all that jazz.

It’s definitely no secret that the new coronavirus (COVID-19) is here and has dramatically altered the way we'll live our lives day to day. For some of us we may already be "social distancing", which means we'll be working from home, looking after the kids, whatever it may be.

It goes without saying that amongst other things we should try to to maintain some regular exercise, communication, as well as practice mindfulness and gratitude to get us through it all. Incorporating these elements into your day will work wonders and help you to stay fit and healthy.

For those feeling anxious, it's totally understandable. We're consistently bombarded with unsettling news about the new coronavirus, but there isn't a lot of information out there about how to remain balanced, calm, fit, and healthy in the midst of it all.

Just remember that you're not alone and its important to look after yourself, its perfectly valid to feel lost, anxious, fearful or uncertain. Below you'll find practical tips for your day to day.

Before we get to that though, lets make sure we're aware of few crucial things:

1. Wash your hands frequently, for 20 seconds.

2. Avoid shaking hands, and;

3. Avoid touching your face

Practising these routinely will help in suppressing the virus through the short term. For more information, check out the World Health Organisation's latest public advice via the link at the bottom of the page.

Tips & Advice

1. Sleep & meditation

Getting enough sleep is crucial, there are obvious health benefits including a lower risk for serious health problems, not to mention reduced stress and an improved mood. Getting enough sleep will allow us to think more clearly and ultimately get along better with people, something that is super important if we're moving into an environment in which we're sharing confined spaces more regularly.

Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep each night, so make changes to your routine if you can't find enough time, or if you find yourself straying beyond your usual sleep time because of the next binge-worthy show you've just discovered. Getting enough sleep isn’t only about total hours though, it’s particularly important to get quality sleep on a regular schedule so you feel rested once you wake up.

If you often have trouble sleeping – I'd recommend meditation. There are loads of apps out there that facilitate guided meditation, such as Calm, Headspace, and Buddhify.

2. Routine

Now that we've covered sleep, lets tackle routine.

As someone who has benefited from working remotely, as well as in "typical" work environments, I know the shock that comes from solitude and a new way of working is going to be far less pronounced for me than for others.

What I can say is that you should follow your routine as if you were heading out the door to tackle your day. Make that cup of coffee, shower, get changed and have a solid breakfast. Creating that clear delineation between bed and work mode will set you up and keep you in a solid frame of mind at the start of your day.

3. Nutrition

The best thing you can do to protect yourself as you go through this change, is to look after your health and immune system by eating enough, and eating enough high-quality foods. This means less junk food as we inevitably tune into Netflix a bit more.

In addition, it's important to stay hydrated and reduce both alcohol and caffeine intake (I'll be the first to admit that I struggle with this one), also remember to keep your vitamin and mineral levels high (aim for proper unprocessed food first and foremost).

I'll be following up with another post, offering some nutrition info as well as some simple and healthy recipes to try.

This is an amazing time to get creative with cooking, slow down, and actually think about what we're putting into our bodies.

4. "Connectedness"

Social distancing is an important way to tackle the new coronavirus — particularly during a time of uncertainty — but for many of us, keeping distance from other people can feel isolating and lonely.

Many of us will rely on social networking more than usual to feel connected, think of it as a digital lifeline for our solitude. But as social isolation sets in, it's important to recognise that whilst useful, we need to channel that energy into the right areas of social networking.

Being socially distant doesn't mean being socially separated, so it's important to prioritise staying connected virtually - reach out to friends you haven't spoken to in a while, colleagues that are new to remote working, schedule video chats with friends over a drink, or take online meetings over a morning coffee with your team. Try as best as possible to mirror online behaviours to offline behaviours.

I'd also suggest talking openly and honestly with loved ones about how the experience is having an impact, and working together to re-frame the way we think about the isolation.

5. Exercise & wellness

Lastly, and I can't stress this one enough, get some exercise and take the necessary time out to practice mindfulness.

Exercise has been one of the greatest contributors to the improvement of my own mental health over the years. Aiming for something sustainable, that allows for focus, such as exercise can make you feel a million times better, and I can guarantee that you won't need that extra cup of coffee to get through the day.

At a minimum, a good 30 mins spread across your day will do wonders, even if its just a brisk walk on the spot, and some squats set to your favourite music.

On the mindfulness front, take a moment to find a quiet spot, slow your breathing down, and just focus on counting your breaths in and out.. Whenever you notice your mind trailing just acknowledge it, be kind to yourself and refocus on that breath. Take the time to notice the silence around you, or the car you hear in the distance, become more in tune with your surroundings and just slow right down.

All of this will help in keeping your spirits high and stress levels low, a key factor in immune health and staying on top of your game.

I'll be following up with another post, detailing some fitness tips, body weight exercises and workouts to try.

Think low through to high intensity, and all without the need for equipment!

Finally, its important to recognise that the vast majority of us will be fine!

Listen to the advice, take this seriously, and have the faith that we'll all be better for it.

Remember, lets all be compassionate with one another, check in on others, only buy what we need, and spare a thought for our health workers. Practice a little bit of gratitude and pay it forward with kindness, especially if you know any key workers or people on the front line.

We're all just one of many.

World Health Organisation - Public Advice


© one of many