Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during COVID-19

During times of stress and uncertainty, it can be easy to fall into bad habits, neglecting already established healthy routines. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle supports your mind and body, making you better equipped to deal with the difficulties posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Maintaining a healthy immune system is more important than ever. The below provides tips on how to sustain a healthy lifestyle at this time:

Many people underestimate the importance of a good diet, but proper nutrition can help to improve your energy levels and your mental health. Making healthy choices wherever possible, such as eating a variety of fruit and vegetables regularly, will help with your overall nutrition. Although they are tempting, try to limit fatty and sugary foods; your body and mind will thank you for it in the long run. Watch this short video for more information on how to maintain a balanced diet.

When you are busy at work it can be easy to skip breaks and miss meals. Skipping meals can affect your ability to concentrate and you may find yourself getting headaches and feeling lethargic, so try to make time to eat and ensure you are having something nutritious to restore your energy levels.

When trying to create or maintain healthy habits, it’s wise to plan ahead. Life has changed a lot recently and it can be hard to balance everything – meal preparation can really help keep you on track.

As we spend more time at home it is easy to run out of inspiration and face the ‘what’s for dinner’ dilemma every evening. To keep things exciting and your healthy eating on track, try planning a few meals in advance or create a weekly menu. This could help you use up some of the ingredients already in your cupboards, and so limiting the time you spend at supermarkets.

If you need some mealtime inspiration the BBC Good Food website has a wide variety of recipes.

Most of the human body is made up of water, so it’s not surprising that staying hydrated is important. Studies show that drinking enough water not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, but a healthy body – helping you think more clearly, easing digestion and maintaining energy levels.

It is recommended we drink six to eight glasses of fluids every day. If you’re not a fan of water on its own, try adding some fresh lemon, ginger, cucumber or mint to add flavour – this is also great for digestion. It’s important to remember that although fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies contain nutrients, they are also high in sugar. You should only drink around 150ml of these a day.

Keeping active is crucial to staying healthy and the endorphins that are released during exercise can make you feel happier too. For most people, social distancing measures will mean having to adapt to new ways of exercising and staying active, but it’s still possible to have a great workout at home.

There are many great fitness materials available online. Try searching on YouTube for a ‘Home workouts’.

If stress makes you crave salty and fatty foods or causes you to overeat, you’re not alone.

Many people find that the 80/20 approach, which involves making healthy choices 80% of the time, is an attainable way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Don’t deprive yourself completely but try to stick to healthy choices most of the time.

Keeping healthy and nutritious snacks nearby will ensure you don’t head straight to the biscuit tin at the slightest hunger pang. A little bit of the foods you fancy is good, however, remember that balance is key.

Sleep is often one of the first things to suffer when our routines change. Try to keep to regular sleep patterns to ensure you’re getting the recommended 7-9 hours a night.

Getting enough sleep improves your overall health and protects your mental wellbeing. Studies have shown that sleeping well can make you happier, improve your memory and help you maintain a healthy weight. A good night’s sleep can also boost your immune system.

If you suffer from insomnia or struggle to get to sleep try using meditation apps, such as Relax and Sleep Well and Calm, to help you unwind.

Sometimes you’ll have bad days and you’ll make unhealthy choices. This is a really difficult time for everyone; it’s OK not to be OK. There’s no right way to respond to what’s happening and no doubt other people are feeling the same way as you, so reach out to friends and family for support if you need it.

More detailed information on eating well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be found in the Good Health Guide.

The British Heart Foundation has developed a short quiz to help people establish how healthy they really are: try it here.

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