Whether you’re on lockdown, self-isolating, or shielding the vulnerable around you, the truth is that you are likely to be spending a lot more time at home in the coming months. You may be by yourself, or perhaps with family members or housemates, but however you are isolating it’s important to look after yourself to make sure that you feel well – both physically and mentally. Staying healthy in isolation will help you feel as normal and stress-free as possible during these strange times.
Who Is Likely To Be Isolating?
Governments around the world have recommended that certain people isolate themselves to protect against the Covid-19 virus. While the advice varies from country to country, people generally considered to be at risk include:
- Those who have had an organ transplant
- People who are having certain types of cancer treatment
- People who have severe asthma
- Those with weaker immune systems
If you fall into one of these categories, you may well be facing an indeterminate time self-isolating.
But it’s not just the high risk who are spending lots of time alone. With lockdowns in many cities, millions of us will be leaving our homes only for essentials. So it’s important to make sure that we look after ourselves and stay safe and well.
Top Tips For Staying Healthy In Isolation
1. Eat Well
With many restaurants turning into delivery services and stores stocking up with treats, it seems easier than ever to eat calorific and processed foods. Not only this, but it is natural to get that feeling of wanting to treat yourself during a lockdown, when you’re not able to do the things you normally would to reward yourself – such as seeing friends or family.
The problem with doing this too often is that it can have a hugely negative impact on your health.
On the other hand, a healthy, balanced diet can keep your immune system working well. If you don’t have great cooking skills, now is the perfect opportunity to learn with the extra time you may have on your hands. Use YouTube or recipe websites and cook up a storm.
In particular, try to get these immune-boosting foods into your diet:
- Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons. These contain vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant.
- Red bell peppers. These are packed full of beta carotene which is converted into vitamin A.
- Broccoli. One of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, it’s supercharged with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
- Garlic. Adding a little to your meal gives you the immune-boosting power of the sulfur-containing compound allicin.
- Ginger. This helps sore throats and coughs, and can be made into a drink with warm water and lemon.
- Spinach. Packed full of vitamins and minerals, this increases the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems.
- Yoghurt. Plain, live yoghurt (not flavoured or sweetened) contains active cultures that help our immune system fight diseases.
A diet rich in a variety of fruit and vegetables will help your body fight off any nasty infections.
Use Your Food Cupboard
If you are self-isolating following symptoms or a diagnosis, visiting a food shop for fresh food may not be an option. Taking advantage of delivery services is great here, but try not to be tempted to go for ready-made food. You can still make nourishing, tasty meals from store cupboard essentials and long-life options. Look out for:
- Pulses, such as lentils
- Frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables
- Tinned fish
These will all last for a long time and keep you fit and healthy.
2. Stay Active
Gym is cancelled, exercise classes are cancelled, running clubs are cancelled.
It can be easy to just give up and spend the time resting.
In fact, it can be easy to convince yourself that it’s the right thing to do in the name of ‘self-care’.
This is a trap to avoid. Staying active is absolutely vital for your physical and mental health, and the best way to go about it is to make it a part of your daily routine. There are many options available to exercise at home.
Remember – exercising to stay fit and healthy is good for you, but setting yourself a goal about a look or weight that you want to achieve by the time isolation is over may not help, and may in fact increase the pressure on yourself and make you less likely to exercise.
Daily Exercise Time
If you are in an area where you can leave the house for a time to exercise, utilize it. Try to change your mindset to see this as a treat. There are plenty of things you could do – walking, running (there are lots of apps available to help you if you are just starting out) and cycling, if you have a bike. As well as giving you the general health benefits (such as increasing your strength and fitness), you’ll get a vitamin D boost from the sun. Vitamin D has many amazing properties – including preventing viruses from binding.
There have always been lots of workouts available to do at home – from Les Mills to Fitness Blender. As gyms and personal trainers have adapted to the changing times, there are now more than ever out there and many of them are free.
They can give you clever tips about using household items and your own body weight to build strength and fitness. Dance classes are a great way of burning up excess energy and calories without having to go outside.
Yoga has a huge number of benefits, including:
- Increased flexibility
- Increased muscle strength and tone
- Improved respiration
- Maintaining a balanced metabolism
- Weight reduction
- Protection from injury
You don’t need any specialist equipment, apart from a yoga mat (which you could order online, or replace with a towel) and there are many free apps such as Asana Rebel which can help you get started. As ever, be realistic about your goals. Rather than downloading the app and saying to yourself that you want to be able to do a headstand by the time isolation is over, try to change your mindset to see your yoga practice as a treat. This is something you are doing just for you, and the process itself is what is healthy, rather than the end outcome.
Many things that happen during isolation can affect how well you sleep, including:
- Increased screen time
- Less exercise and fresh air
- Lack of routine
- Altered diet
If you aren’t working or studying at the moment, then you may also be finding it tempting to sleep in in the morning following a poor night’s sleep. This can have a knock-on effect, and because sleep is when your body heals, it can make you run down and more susceptible to illness.
Try these things to improve your sleep quality:
- Avoid screens – and in particular avoid reading the news or scrolling through social media – for at least an hour before bed.
- Set yourself a bedtime and stick to it. Begin a bedtime routine full of lovely things like a warm bath and facemask before you sleep.
- Read a book for half an hour before you sleep.
- As per the previous tip, exercise! It will help to improve the quality of you sleep.
- Try a meditation app before you sleep.
- Set an alarm and get up at your normal time. Stick to your routine as much as possible.
- Don’t work from your bed if you are working from home. Your bed should be a sanctuary for sleep, and connecting it to work and stress can have negative effects on your ability to sleep.
Most importantly, give yourself a break. If you are finding it hard to sleep, distract yourself from your thoughts by reading a book until you are ready to try sleeping again. Don’t be tempted to check your phone!
4. Balance Your Hormones
We all know that hormones can affect our mood, but they can seriously affect our overall health too. Studies have shown that time spent in isolation can seriously change hormone levels, and if you are already susceptible to hormone imbalance it is important to keep an eye on this to ensure that you stay healthy.
Here are a few things you can do to keep those hormones balanced:
- Try eating every three to four hours rather than waiting until you are starving. This will help to keep sugar spikes at bay.
- Cut back on alcoholic drinks – alcohol raises estrogen levels.
- Drink less coffee. This will help to avoid the peak and crash that caffeine causes.
A healthy diet with plenty of vegetables and limited refined sugar will help here too.
5. Look After Your Mental Health
Although this is our last tip, it is by far the most important. A healthy mind and a healthy body are intertwined, and without strong mental health it will be difficult to put any of the other tips into practice. Here are some basic things you can do to look after your mental wellbeing.
Isolation is a strange thing for humans to do, and it can have a significant effect on your mental health. However, we are fortunate that we are living at a time when we are more connected than ever, through the digital world.
Some studies suggest that video calling can have the same mental health benefits as talking to people face to face, so if you can, do. You might feel shy about going in front of the camera, but everyone does to start with and your loved ones will really appreciate seeing you. This can lift your mood and make you feel less lonely, far more than a phone call would.
You could also find a positive online community that shares your interests; for example, music, TV or another hobby. There are forums for everything now, and finding one that suits you can help you to keep your passion alive and interact with others.
This might seem tricky, but here are a few things to try:
- Mindfulness. Using an app like Headspace to guide mediation can help to clear your mind of anxious thoughts and ease your breathing.
- Clean up your social media. If your social media is full of negative accounts, or ones that make you feel anxious, upset or angry, now is a perfect time to go through and unfollow or mute them. What makes you feel happy and relaxed? Maybe it’s cat videos – there are plenty of those that you can fill your feed with instead.
- Take a break from the news. At times like this, when everything is moving so quickly, it can be tempting to check the news often. But this could be negatively affecting your mental health. Try taking a break, or setting yourself a particular time when you let yourself check it.
- Read a book. Escapism without the screentime is a great way to give your mind a break. Ask a friend for a recommendation, or reread an old favourite.
- Plan your days. If your normal routine is disrupted, this can be stressful. Setting a routine can be helpful, but try not to be too strict about what you want to achieve. Instead, having things such as ‘shower at 8.30am’ can add some structure to your day without setting you on course to failure.
- Feel productive. Part of the reason that we feel out of sorts at times like this is that we miss the rush and feeling of being useful. If you feel like this, try setting yourself a list of jobs such as sorting out your wardrobe or doing some gardening.
Deal With Stressful Situations At Home
However good your relationship with your family or housemates might be, being cooped up with them for significant periods of time can be challenging and create tension which can affect your mental health.
Try diffusing situations by walking away until everyone feels calmer, and if possible do some exercise before handling the situation. This can help to clear your mind.
Give Yourself A Treat
This is a difficult time and it is important to treat yourself. While the shops might be closed, lots of online stores are still open for delivery and ordering a treat for yourself can give you a little boost. Why not think about:
- Buying a new book you’ve been wanting to read
- Some fancy new exercise equipment
- Seeds, bulbs and planters for your garden or windowsill
These are strange times for everyone, and making sure you stay healthy in isolation should be the priority. Taking exercise, keeping connected, eating well and switching off the news are all going to help.
You can also look after your body with an immune-boosting package of individualized supplements. At BluVida, we have worked with a specialty pharmacy to design this remedial supplement which is designed to strengthen your immune system and help you to fight off viruses and infections. You can order your supplements by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or heading to our supplements page, then get your personalized supplement package delivered directly to your door. We are here to help you stay healthy in isolation.