Body, Mind & Spirit: Ways to Stay Fit and Healthy During Lockdown 2.0
Let me start off by saying I am not a fitness guru by any means. However, with a second lockdown firmly in place I have gathered a few tips for you in order to stay fit, encouraged, and healthy in these challenging times, whilst also making the lockdown a better experience for yourself and your mind. Maintaining a healthy mindset in general is important, during a lockdown even more so. In order to retain a healthy balance, it is essential to not only look after our bodies, but to also look after our well-being and mental states too.
Walks and step counts
Before the initial lockdown commenced in March and had most of our lives held on pause, I was easily walking at least 10,000 + steps a day. Though, due to the furlough scheme, with working from home and no need to commute, there are now days, more often than not, that I only just make 1,000 steps. It is so important to keep exercising in these times, especially when you are sat all day behind a computer screen and feel a little shut away from the outside world and other people. I have found that by recently keeping a track of my step count on a daily basis has meant that I have been setting myself goals and by doing this, keeping more active. By taking a walk once a day you can reach at least 5,000 steps without it feeling like strenuous activity. As everybody’s schedules vary, along with this time of year being busy for most, fitting in a walk may not feel like a priority but it definitely should be, 30 minutes is all you need. I find evening walks are the best time for me and you’ll be surprised just how quickly they become a part of your daily routine. If you would also like to track your step count, I would absolutely recommend it for your own sense of well-being and achievement, it has helped me in multiple ways with feeling happier, healthier, and motivated. Saying this, don’t become obsessed with the amount you do, or feel disheartened on the days when you don’t do as many – anything is better than nothing at all.
A lovely place to walk will never be too far away from you, whether you can walk there or have to drive to the location. I have always lived in the East Midlands, which is home to many beautiful places to walk. A few current ‘go-to’ lockdown favourites of mine being Wollaton Hall, Chatsworth House and Matlock. Getting your daily dose of fresh air is so crucial for your health and your fitness. I like to choose somewhere to walk that isn’t literally on my doorstep, something to look forward to, making it a fun weekend activity. It really does help to reduce restlessness; helping you to feel refreshed and revived. Autumn is probably my favourite season for walking, with the crisp air, frost covered grass and the sound of the crunchy fallen leaves. It makes you feel more at one with nature when you are outside enjoying it.
Drink! Drink! Drink! Staying hydrated is the key for a healthy body and mind. Water is the best drink for staying hydrated and healthy and it does not have to be boring. Drinking glasses of water through-out the day can sometimes feel like a bit of a chore, but it doesn’t have to. Adding fruits into your water and allowing them to infuse is a great way to keep your body and taste buds satisfied. You can infuse your water with various fruits and herbs, a personal favourite of mine is cucumber, lime, and mint leaves. It is vital to not deprive your body of water, I find I drink so much more when I have a water bottle by my side, so this is a great tip for you too.
More often than not I start my mornings with a peppermint tea. Peppermint tea has been proven to reduce stress and improve energy, though it has many other benefits too such as aiding with digestion and reducing bloating. The same goes for green tea, it is full of antioxidants and can enhance brain functioning. Whilst coffee is also a lifesaver, you should try introducing a cup of either of these in the morning to keep your body happy and yourself energised.
Tidy up and take breaks
Having a clean space to work in truly does wonders for your mindset. I find that having a clear workspace allows me to think clearly. If you work at a desk, then little things like sorting out and arranging your stationary will help you to feel more organised. Getting rid of clutter will result in you feeling less distracted and more focused. I find that having a good tidy-up in general can help with your mental health, as doing so means you are being proactive, eliminating anxieties.
Taking breaks should be a part of your working day. You get them at work, so you should take them at home too. Taking a break from your computer screen will maintain concentration. Have a walk around your house, pop into the garden, make yourself a drink – whatever you choose it is essential that you do so. Even if you choose to do a spot of housework like hoovering or washing, this will allow you to be active.
Wake up, get ready, and stretch
It sounds silly, right? But, before you go downstairs in the morning make your bed, have a shower, and get dressed. I could not recommend this enough. In the first couple of months of the initial March lockdown I would wake up and stay in my pyjamas for most of the day, resulting in me feeling fed up, unproductive and lazy, even when my days were fairly productive. To prevent this, I now make my bed, have a shower, and apply some coconut oil (an amazing moisturiser by the way girls. It works MAGIC on eyebrow growth and thickness). In result of this I feel properly awake, functioning and therefore ready for the day. Stretches can also help with this, performing a few morning stretches can relieve tension and increases your blood flow, readying your body for the day ahead.
Fruit and vegetables
Never forget about your daily intake of fruits and veggies. It is a must that you keep your body topped up on the good stuff, such as minerals, fibres, vitamins – the list goes on, keeping you feeling super healthy and nourished. These chillier months often come hand in hand with colds and the flu, eating your fruits and vegetables will aid in boosting your immune system helping to combat the pesky winter cold. An easy way to consume your veggies is at dinner time, having a few varieties of vegetables with your evening meal. Colder weather brings out the slow cooker, meaning hearty soups, stews, casseroles packed with lots of delicious veggies. When it comes to fruit, I’m sure you will agree that every kitchen should have a still-life-esque display of fruit arranged in a decorative bowl, not only for aesthetic but also for your convenience. Snacking on fruit doesn’t have to be any less pleasing than a slice of cake, you can always switch it up by making your own smoothie.
ALSO, I have to give a shout out to honey. I try to include a little natural honey into my diet every day. You can do this either by adding a teaspoon into your cup of tea, by dissolving with hot water and lemon or on your granola or yogurt for breakfast. You can cook with it too, a wonderful treat to make your veggies more enjoyable is to drizzle honey over them before roasting. You won’t be disappointed. Honey is known for its health and healing benefits, as well as having a delectable taste, so, in moderation it can be a great addition to your daily regimen.
I don’t know about you, but I never used to make checklists and didn’t really understand how they could make such a difference. However, during the summer lockdown, whilst working on my dissertation and other life admin, I started making checklists to help me stay focused. I found this physical ticking off of tasks very rewarding and motivating. It helped me to manage my time and keep organised which reduced my anxiety and stress. I now write myself a checklist most evenings for the day to follow. Your tasks do not have to be anything major but giving yourself things to do will really improve your mindset and keep you proactive, whilst also giving you a sense of achievement.
Self-Care and Affirmations
To conclude, let’s make this season one of self-care. Really take the time to look after yourself. It has been a challenging year for us all, and with Christmas being next month we need to rejuvenate ourselves and take the time to unwind before all the December festivities. Pamper evenings with a luxurious facemask, chick-flicks, calming scented candles and oils and a pair of fluffy socks is a fabulous way to relax. Indulge yourself in your favourite box of chocolates and a big bag of crisps and dip and do not feel guilty about it one bit. Of course self-care goes way beyond facemasks and candles, it is also about taking care of your mental health. Affirmations are a new method in bringing and creating success, writing down the things you are grateful for, practicing self-empowerment and producing positive thoughts, these can be written in the morning or at night. We must congratulate ourselves on our achievements.
Lastly, make sure to check up on your friends and family too, by call, FaceTime, or a simple message, sending them love and well wishes. And remember girls, you are not in this alone.
About Jodi Martine Johnson
I’m a 24 year- old freelance writer, artist, and poet from Nottingham, with a Master’s in Creative Writing. I specialise in poetry and often work with evocative language, romanticism and the metaphorical. I have been published online as well as in poetry collections. My dream career would be in the publishing industry, as a writer or in an editorial role. I hope you enjoy my pieces and that they inspire you in one way or another – or at least prompt a smile.