With the closure of gyms, studios and health facilities, many people have struggled to remain healthy and active over the winter months. On top of our physical wellbeing, Covid-19 has had an impact on many people’s mental wellbeing as well.
The Irish Medical Journal reported that one in every five people in Ireland had significantly increased psychological distress such as anxiety and depression. Maynooth University and Trinity College studied 1000 people in March and April last year and found that 41% felt lonely.
With depression, anxiety and loneliness numbers so high, we need to make wellbeing a priority.
Working out from home may seem like it’s never been easier with home exercises apps. The truth is, it’s never been more challenging. We are all working remotely from our homes, and you may have been homeschooling until recently. With constant access to a press (cupboard) full of treats and snacks, constant distractions, it can be hard to make healthy choices, and the guilt can quickly become debilitating.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Everyone is in the same boat as you.
I want to share some easy, actionable tips you can use to make your wellbeing a priority and break those lockdown habits.
We tend to criticise ourselves more harshly than we do others. Be kind to yourself as you start to make healthy changes and choose healthy habits. Be mindful of how you speak to yourself or the thoughts you think about yourself.
Take a step back and acknowledge everything you have achieved in the last year, big and small. Celebrate your successes. Shifting focus away from what you haven’t yet done enforces a positive mindset. Your positive mindset will give you good habits.
Make your mental health your top priority
If you want to be healthy, start with your mental health. When your mental health suffers, it can lead to a compromised immune system. It can also leave you feeling tired and exhausted, which doesn’t help build a healthy lifestyle. Ongoing stress can wreak havoc on the body, especially your heart health.
You can prioritise your mental health through self-care activities, healthy food choices, exercise, sleep, and seek further help for any conditions.
Use your corporate wellness programme
If you have access to a corporate wellness or employee wellness programme, you should use it. Wellness programmes are proven to reduce annual healthcare costs and increase employee productivity.
For an individual, it’s easier to stick to a programme if other people are doing it too. Live yoga classes, group meditations, online talks all help with managing your wellness. And if you have someone to hold you accountable, whether it’s a colleague or a friend, then you are likely to keep it up.
Find a routine that works for you
Routines are the backbone of lasting change, but only if they are sustainable. If you are not a morning person, then don’t commit to a morning routine; choose a time that works for you. If you are a morning person, you can have a simple morning routine that includes some movement, meditation and healthy breakfast and build on it as you go.
Allow a little flexibility into your routine. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, I have the same routine: yoga, celery juice, meditation, mindfulness work and then something that inspires me like reading or a podcast. Thursday is a little different because I have a standing 6.30 am meeting. Saturday and Sunday is a more relaxed version of my routine.
A good night’s sleep is essential to good health. A sleep schedule of seven or more hours per night can minimise the effects of depression, anxiety and stress.
If you have difficulties falling asleep, consider one of the following:
- Meditation or breathing exercises can help relax you and set you up for a good nights sleep.
- Choose decaf teas and coffees later in the day.
- Create a sleep routine that will help you unwind.
- Reduce your screen team before bedtime
Creating a healthier lifestyle takes time and requires both mental and behavioural changes. Making your wellbeing a priority will be a huge benefit to you, your family and your colleagues both now and in the long-run.
Wellness programmes can be a massive benefit to employees who are looking to improve their health.