1. GIVE YOUR BODY QUALITY FUEL
With easier access to the refrigerator and wine cabinet whilst working from home, it can become challenging to eat and drink well. Research shows that people tend to seek high-calorie, high-fat foods during periods of stress or boredom. But, in times of crisis and high stress, the way in which we fuel our mind and body is more important than ever.
With more meals now being cooked at home, try creating a meal planner. Write down meals in advance, which will provide a map of the day’s food journey and will also help you avoid sugary snacks and processed ready meals with high sugar content. If you’re stuck for inspiration on what to cook, set-up a virtual recipe exchange with friends and family or use recipe apps to add what ingredients you have in the house and instantly find matching recipes from the most popular cooking websites!
2. USE NUTRITION TO SUPPORT YOUR MENTAL WELLBEING
Being stressed stimulates your adrenal glands, which can in turn cause a loss of minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium) as well as Vitamins B and C. So, it’s important if you feel stressed that you include in your diet plenty of the following foods, which are rich in these nutrients:
Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium-rich foods:
E.g. Green leafy vegetables, parsley, nuts; in particular almonds, seeds; in particular pumpkin seeds, canned fish with soft bones (e.g. sardines, salmon), prunes, dried figs, apricots, chickpeas, baked beans, tofu and soya products, yoghurt, garlic and brown rice.
Vitamin C-rich foods:
E.g. Citrus fruits, blackcurrants, kiwi, lychees, raspberries, parsley, spinach, green beans, peas, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, peppers, spring greens and watercress.
Vitamin B-rich foods:
E.g. Egg yolk, liver, nuts, red meat, cereals, yeast, dairy products, vegetables, fish, leafy green vegetables and beans and peas.
3. DEVELOP A PRE-SLEEP ROUTINE
Insufficient sleep can be linked to a number of negative physical and emotional effects. Despite the changing circumstances try to develop a pre-sleep routine. Go to bed at a set time each night and get up at the same time each morning to maintain a sense of normalcy. Whilst sleeping in at the weekend can seem tempting it can reset your sleep cycles, making it harder to wake up at the time needed on Monday morning.
Take the pressure off; cover your alarm clock, move your phone to the other room or put your smartwatch to sleep. This will help you focus on relaxation techniques and calm your mind instead of getting anxious watching sleepless minutes tick by.
Writing a diary before bed gives you a chance to write down any worries, thoughts or a to-do list for tomorrow, before you go to sleep. You’ll be able to rest easier knowing you’ve made a note of what to tackle and cleared your mind. A good night’s sleep can often bring a fresh perspective to those worries if they remain the following day.
4. BE AWARE OF “SLEEP STEALERS”
Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, screen time, heavy and spicy foods can all disrupt your night-time routine. Research suggests that caffeine can stay in our systems for up to 8 hours. If you’re sensitive to caffeine avoid sources including coffee, chocolate, soft carbonated drinks, non-herbal teas and some pain relievers, from early afternoon onwards.
Although you may find that alcohol can help you fall asleep it typically increases the number of times you awaken in the latter half of the night when the relaxing effects wears off. Alcohol prevents you from getting the deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep you need and keeps you in the lighter stages of sleep.
Whilst it can be tempting, also try and refrain from reading or watching the news before going to bed. Media coverage of Covi-19 will increase stress and anxiety, and not create the sense of calmness or ‘winding down’ that will help you fall asleep.
5. UNDERSTAND YOUR OWN BODY CLOCK AND THE LINK TO PRODUCTIVITY
We all have an internal body clock, called the circadian rhythm, that tells us when it is the best time for us to sleep, wake up, eat, do exercise etc. Some people feel their most energised in the morning, whilst others are at their best later in the evening.
When working through your daily routine, try to manage your energy and not your time. Recognising your natural energy patterns will help you to focus and prioritise the appropriate activities. For example, you may have more energy to focus on creative work in the morning but leave task-based activities until the afternoon. Managing your work around your energy levels will enable you to accomplish more.
6. ADAPT YOUR TIME AND SPACE
Although it’s tempting to use the time that would have been your commute to stay in bed, consider how it could be used to get the day off to a healthier start. Maybe have a quick yoga session or jog outside if you’re able to.
If you find it hard to motivate yourself and this increases each time you put off exercise, start with something small. For example, commit to putting on workout clothes when you wake up – the result will usually be that you end up working out.
If you have the space, work out in a different room than the one you sleep or work in. If you can’t do this, think about how you can set the mood to create a new workout space in the same environment. For example, put out a yoga mat, water bottle and trainers next to your workout space to create your own little gym locker.
7. THINK “OUT OF THE BOX”
You may be unable to use a gym at this time but think creatively about what else could be used to help you meet your fitness goals. Many of the things lying around our homes, such as bags of potatoes, tinned goods or books make excellent impromptu resistance weights.
When on conference calls, use them as an opportunity to stand up or move around. Even just a few minutes of physical activity are better than none at all.