Ten things to keep mind and body stimulated during the lockdown

Exercise is important (Photo: Shutterstock)
Exercise is important (Photo: Shutterstock)

Just imagine if someone had told you on New Year’s Eve that, by the end of March 2020, life as we know it will grind to a shuddering halt as a virus sweeps across the world and, sadly, takes lives with it.

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And you were also told we would all be isolated within our homes, writes fitness coach Dan Donohue.

Also that our movements would be limited, our time to exercise vastly reduced and we would be unable to embrace our loved ones.

You would have been wondering what that person was drinking that night, right?Well, here we are, now in the midst of an unprecedented event that has done all of the above and so much more.

But, if nothing else, we humans are resourceful.

We are strong and, when the time calls for it, we come together to overcome adversity as one.Here we bring you ten ways you can help yourself, and also how you can help others, until we all come out into the light on the other side of this pandemic.

Some of what is said will be obvious, some less so.Some of this will be easy, some less so.All of it, however, is achievable.

1. The first one is getting Vitamin D:

This is the most obvious of the ten tips we will give you and it is exercise.While our ability to move freely has been restricted, our right to exercise outside hasn’t.That one hour each day to get out and to exercise is golden, treat it as you would, the precious material of gold itself.However, what you do with that golden hour is up to you.You can walk, or you can run or you can cycle. But remember, use it to its full capacity, while staying within the guidelines that the government has set out for us.Isolation is both uncommon and unnatural for us all, so get yourself outside and get some fresh air.

2. The second is nutrition:

While our movement outside the home is restricted and we are isolated to our home for a larger majority of our day than we have experienced in many decades, our mind set will be drastically altered.As a result of this change of mindset, we may find that our motivation to continue with the good habits that we have spent so long implementing, could be very low indeed.But we need to ensure that we are following the 80/20 rule as much as possible.It would be advisable to look at your current daily intake if you are tracking what you eat.A small deficit may be beneficial during this period. But either way, focus your mind on healthier choices that energise you while allowing for that 20 per cent of what you like to let loose with.

3. The third thing is NEAT:

As we have touched on already, our movement outside the home is limited to a certain amount per day.And, with that, the amount of calories we are able to burn each day will be reduced as a result.That is another reason to ensure that our Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is a focal point.Remember, move when you can, wherever you can.Spend your time doing some household chores, or play with the children, and get those jobs done on the home that you have been putting off.Burn calories when the opportunity is there.

4. The fourth thing is a workout:

This could be in the home, or it could be in the garden, or it could be in the garage, in your bedroom, or wherever there is space in your home.You can take part in online workouts with your gym coaches.Or perhaps with your gym buddies or thousands of others in a virtual group workout.Make this as much of a priority, in regards to how you use your time, as you would were we not to be in the position we are in at present.And remember to set your stall out on Sunday night.Know the times and workouts you’re going to do and do all you can to stick to those times.

5. Connect:

Your mental health has never been more important than it is right now.We are all lucky to be in a position to use the multitude of platforms that allow us to stay connected.It is imperative that we use them.Stay connected to your friends, your family and to your gym buddies.However and whatever you do, that connection, albeit a virtual connection, will have a hugely positive upside on your mental health.

6. Stretch:

Ensure that you take some time to step back from the hard stuff and focus on realigning your body.You should take time to stretch, maybe take part in a virtual yoga or Pilates class led by a teacher or maybe even use ten minutes of your time to centre your mind and to meditate.You can tune in to any of the mindful apps like Calm or Headspace and zone out for a small fraction of your day.

7. Hydration:

This is still as high a priority as if we were moving around and out and about on our day-to-day business.You should continue to follow the relevant guidelines of two to two-and-a-half litres per day.This hydration will help us to stay alert, to ensure that we function better and to help you combat the need to consume unnecessary calories when you mistake hunger for a lack of fluids.

8. Sleep:

Again, ensure that we are getting those seven to eight hours of vital sleep per night.Now, more than ever, we may have been presented with an opportunity to really use this to our benefit as we find ourselves working from home.

9. Prepare:

Another way to ensure that we keep our nutrition in check is for us to prepare for the coming days.If you need to, as you may still be working, either prepare or write down the things or meals that you are going to consume throughout the coming week.If you do this it will take away that knee-jerk reaction that may hinder any maintenance or any progress you have been making by consuming any excessive calories.

10. It is important to plan:

Use this time that you now have in isolation to plan for the months ahead.Ask yourself what do you want to achieve in the future?What are your future goals? This will end and, when it does, you will have something to move forward with.While we don’t have an exact time frame for when this will end, we can still write down some of the things that we would like to achieve and that would motivate us to continue to work on the things listed above in the coming weeks or months ahead.Lastly, I extend best wishes to you and yours during this difficult period.And I implore you all to stay safe and follow the guidelines set out.Together, we will save lives!