Lockdown 2.0: A doctor’s wellbeing tips
This autumn, while we stay at home and go back to alternative ways of keeping in touch with loved ones, it’s normal to experience some déjà vu
A second lockdown is proving a difficult time for many of us, especially with colder weather, dark evenings and Christmas plans up in the air. But now, more than ever, it’s important to stay healthy – both physically and mentally.
Follow these tips to keep on top of your wellbeing while re-adjusting to life in lockdown.
1. Eat well
Boredom, stress and low mood can all be triggers for eating badly. While it’s okay to treat ourselves occasionally, giving into cravings all the time is likely to have a negative impact on both our physical and mental health.
Try to make nutritious meals that are fun to cook and eat. Healthy doesn’t need to be boring! Not only will your body thank you, cooking lunch or dinner could become a meaningful part of your lockdown routine.
Eat five portions of fruit and veg to help you get the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your immune system needs to fight diseases. Combine this with some carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats for the best balance.
2. Make sleep a priority
Many of us have had issues with sleep during the pandemic. Getting a regular good night’s sleep is so important for your physical and mental wellbeing, but it can also be the first thing to suffer in times of uncertainty.
If you’re finding it hard to get to sleep, to stay asleep or are disturbed by vivid dreams, there are things you can do to help:
- Practice breathing exercises
- Fit some exercise into your day
- Follow a regular sleep routine
- Don’t use your phone when you go bed
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol within 6 hours of bedtime
3. Know your alcohol units
If you’ve been taking comfort in alcohol since the pandemic began, you’re not alone. Research from Alcohol Change shows that more than a quarter of people admit to drinking more during lockdown.
The truth is, both men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week, according to the NHS. Put into perspective, a single (25ml) shot of spirits is one unit, a medium (175ml) glass of wine is 2.1 units, and a pint of lager is 3 units. Learn more about alcohol units on the NHS website.
Cutting down on drinking will likely help your sleep, stabilise your mood and lower your risk of serious illnesses, among many other benefits.
If you want to drink less, you could try to:
- Take alcohol-free days
- Make alcohol-free cocktails
- Avoid buying alcohol along with the food shop
- Join a remote support group
- Use apps to track your units
4. Be kind to yourself
It’s completely natural to feel a mixture of feelings during this time, including stress and anxiety. Some days will be better than others.
A piece of advice is to practice self-compassion. Treat yourself with the same kindness you’d show a close friend or family member, don't beat yourself up if things don’t go according to plan, and listen to yourself when you’re feeling under the weather.
If you’re working from home, take time to switch off. Give yourself designated time for lunch breaks – a good chance to get outside in nature (and soak up essential vitamin D) if you can.
5. Don’t put your health on hold
It’s crucial that you don’t ignore your symptoms, or put off medical appointments until after lockdown. That’s the same whether you have a long-term condition or you have a new rash, pain or worry you’d like to talk to a doctor about.
We may be in a pandemic, but research shows that fewer patients are getting emergency care for serious conditions like strokes and heart attacks. And sadly, late diagnoses of cancer may be on the rise.
So it’s really important to talk to a doctor about new symptoms, and still get help as you would have done pre-lockdown.
You can get medical advice, prescriptions and referrals through Livi – and you don’t need to leave home to get them.
This article has been contributed to by Dr Rhianna McClymont, Lead GP at Livi.
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