8 top health tips to keep you sane and strong during self-isolation

By Mirror | Thursday, Mar 26th 2020 at 16:41
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As the Coronavirus pandemic forces people out of their daily routines and into quarantine, stress and anxiety is rife.

Here, we share some top tips to help you stay fighting fit in both body and mind.

MIND

    * Find a hobby : Fill your spare time with something creative and distracting, says Sabina Poole-Rivic, senior psychological wellbeing practitioner for Insight Healthcare.

“Proactively schedule time to pick up that hobby you loved as a child, or maybe learn that new skill you’ve always thought about learning, but never had the time.

“Playing a musical instrument, baking bread or painting while listening to some calming music can be the perfect way to switch off and unwind with a purpose.”

    * Limit screen time : Staying connected is important, but too much time on your phone can contribute to anxiety.

To clear your mind, create specific breaks during the day when you turn off your phone and go for a walk.

But don’t completely ditch technology. Skype and Facetime mean you can stay connected to friends and family who might appreciate a good chat – without talking about coronavirus.

    * Wash your hands – but not excessively : The charity OCD Action has seen an increase in support requests from people whose fears have become focused on the coronavirus pandemic.

For people with OCD and some types of anxiety, being constantly told to wash your hands is hard to hear. The issue to look out for is the function, says Lily Bailey, author of Because We Are Bad – a book about living with OCD.

For example, is the washing being carried out for the recommended amount of time to reduce the risk of spreading of the virus, or is it being done ritualistically in a specific order to feel ‘right’?

    * Build a new routine: When you’re cooped up indoors, it’s important to break up your day.

Moving around the house and working, reading or practising a hobby in different rooms will give you a fresh perspective.

Taking frequent breaks to walk out into the garden or sit by an open window will also clear your head.

These seemingly small acts will build into a new routine over the coming months – and it’s important to be grateful for them.

    * Breathe better: Sometimes all it takes to relax is focusing on your breathing, says Jyoti Jo Manuel, founder of Special Yoga – the global non-profit organisation supporting children and adults with additional needs.

“Science has shown that slowly breathing in and out five to six times a minute balances our nervous system,” she says.

“Standing with your feet hip-width apart, breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of five, then out through your mouth, focusing on using your chest and not your tummy to draw the air in.

“Imagine holding a ball between your hands in front of you, and your hands being pushed out and back as you breathe in.

“Soon your whole body should feel refreshed, relaxed and awake.”

BODY

Taking care of your physical ­wellbeing while you’re in isolation is paramount.

    * Vitamin C : There’s a reason this key antioxidant is so popular during the winter months – it turbo-boosts the immune system.

Raw apples, carrots and peppers are packed with Vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants, all of which work together to strengthen your defences.

Other foods rich in Vitamin C include lemons, oranges, broccoli, frozen peas and berries, all of which can be frozen. Try to get whole foods rather than juices, if you can, to make the most of the nutrients.

    * Zinc : A zinc deficiency can make you more susceptible to disease and illness.

This essential nutrient helps maintain the body’s ability to make new cells and enzymes, process carbohydrate, fat and protein in food, and increase the speed of healing wounds.

Evidence suggests zinc can also be helpful when it comes to preventing colds and viruses and minimises symptoms for allergy and hay fever sufferers.

Foods rich in zinc include red meat, shellfish and eggs, as well as nuts, wholegrains and pulses.

    * Ginger : This warming antioxidant helps fight off cold and flu symptoms and combats nausea.

Full of iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium, it is also great for your gut.

“Ginger stimulates defensive responses in the upper respiratory and digestive mucosa, helping the body fend off infections,” says Euan MacLennan, herbal director at Pukka Herbs.

Just because your gym’s closed doesn’t mean you should give up on exercise.

THE PLANK: Start in the press-up position, on your elbows rather than your hands. Lift your body off the floor so your feet and elbows are supporting your whole body, and try to make your core as straight as possible, so your body is flat.

STEP-UPS: Stand just in front of the stairs then step on and off at a steady pace. Alternate your leading leg so both legs get an equal amount of work.

LUNGES: With your feet about shoulder-width apart, take a step forward and keep the majority of your weight on your flat front foot as you lower your hips to the ground, with your back heel lifted and your back straight. Descend until your rear knee is almost – but not quite – touching the floor. Now push back to the start position with your front foot, and repeat the move with your other leg.

CRUNCHES: Lay on the floor with your feet flat and knees bent. Place your fingers on the side of your forehead and slowly lift your head and upper back off the ground, keeping your lower back flat against the floor. This can be repeated for a set number of reps.

DIPS: With your hands on the edge of a sturdy chair and feet flat on the floor with knees bent, lower your body as far as you can towards the floor, then push back up to the start position.

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