The sun is shining and the promise of reunions and normal life returning has got many of us feeling optimistic and excited. As restrictions ease and the days get longer and lighter, here are some tips to help you live your best life post-lockdown.
The pandemic seems to have divided us when it comes to exercise. There are people who have used the time at home and the opportunity to slow down a bit in terms of their work and social schedules to embrace a more active lifestyle, but there are also many people who have struggled to stay in shape. Whatever camp you’re in, try and incorporate regular exercise into your routine as we move into spring/summer. Moving your body is not just about losing lockdown pounds. It’s about improving your health, reducing your risk of potentially life-shortening diseases and lifting your spirits. Being active has powerful mental health benefits and it can increase confidence, help you tackle stress and anxiety and give your energy levels a boost.
Whether you’re moving out of lockdown in great shape, or you’re a little apprehensive about your body shape or your fitness level, it’s a great idea to set new targets for the months ahead. If you’ve got into the habit of going for a walk every day, or you’ve spent your weekends exploring woodlands or forests or going for bike rides, don’t give these hobbies up just because shops, restaurants and pubs are reopening. Make time to be active, as well as being sociable. If you find it hard to stay motivated, you can use an activity tracker to try and hit a daily target for steps or active minutes, you can vary activities to ensure fitness is fun and you can get friends and family involved. Go for walks or bike rides together, take up swimming, tennis or golf, or join group exercise sessions with friends or your partner.
Many of us have devoted more time and effort to our skin during lockdown. Video calls and Zoom meetings and the opportunity to go days on end without putting makeup on have inspired us to look after our skin and investigate new products and regimes. As the weather improves and our routines start to change slightly, it’s important to keep up the good work. Protect your skin from the sun by using cosmetics with a high SPF (UVA & UVB protection) and applying more SPF if you’re going outside. If you’re out and about and it’s hot, you’ll need to increase your fluid intake. It’s also beneficial to adapt your skincare regime to nourish your skin and keep it hydrated in the warmer months. I like to switch heavier creams for facial oils, serums and lotions. Take time to moisturise your body, as well as your face.
Self-care has become an important feature of lockdown for many of us. If you’ve enjoyed treating yourself to a bubble bath with indulgent oils on a Friday night or a lie-in with a facemask and a good book on a Sunday morning, try to keep up with these regimes. Whether you’re a fan of trying every new product on the market or you’re resourceful and you’re always on the hunt for mask recipes with food leftovers, it’s brilliant to treat yourself from time to time. Looking after yourself will benefit your physical and mental health. Having routines in place can also help you manage your time more effectively once life gets busier and your diary starts to fill up.Healthy eating
As a society, we tend to be fixated on healthy eating as a means of losing weight. While eating well can help you drop pounds or maintain a healthy weight, its most important benefit is enhancing nutrition. Your body relies on the foods you consume to provide essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. A balanced diet should provide you with all the nutrients you need. When you’re planning menus, writing lists for the weekly shop or ordering food at a restaurant, try to concentrate on nutrition and think about what you’re putting into your body. Buy ingredients that are beneficial for you, cook at home whenever possible and aim to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein, healthy fats and key vitamins and minerals. If you’re keen to improve your diet, it’s an excellent idea to do some research into healthy eating, to seek advice from your doctor or a nutritionist, to search for healthy recipes online and to use an app to keep a food diary. Food diaries can be helpful for portion control and calorie counting, but they also provide valuable information about nutrition. You will be able to see how you’re doing in terms of hitting daily targets for vitamin and mineral intake and gauge whether you need to increase or decrease your intake of fats, carbohydrates, sugars, protein, fibre and salt.
Many people automatically go on a diet when they want to lose weight. The trouble with dieting, especially fad diets, is that they often contribute to rapid, unsustainable weight loss. If you’re only drinking juice or eating soup for 2 weeks, for example, you’re going to lose a lot of weight, but it’s highly likely you’ll put it back on once you start eating normally again. Aim to make long-term changes to your diet that are manageable and sustainable. Follow a healthy eating plan, which ensures that you get the nutrients you need and that your body has enough fuel. If you’re hungry all the time, or you’re craving all your favourite foods, it’s going to be very difficult to stick to a diet. Design a balanced, healthy menu each week, exercise frequently to burn calories and allow yourself the odd treat. If you’ve eaten well all week, there’s nothing wrong with having an ice cream or pizza at the weekend.
Making mental health a priority
For most of us, the last year has been challenging. We have been through periods of feeling anxious and scared, we’ve been lonely and isolated, and at times, it has felt like life would never get back to ‘normal.’ Some people have had money worries, some have suffered loss and bereavement and some have been unable to do jobs they love. As we look forward, it’s so important to make mental wellbeing a priority.
Mental health is often perceived as a negative term, but everyone has mental health and we can all take steps to protect and nourish our minds. We work out and we eat well to shield our bodies, but we should also actively work to safeguard our mental wellbeing. Think about what makes you happy and make more time for activities, hobbies and spending time with people who lift you up. Recognise that comparing yourself to everybody else is almost always a source of anguish or disappointment, understand that your strengths lie in your uniqueness and give yourself a break. Set targets, aim to be the best you can be and fulfil your potential, but don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t emerged from lockdown having baked a fresh loaf of bread every day, learned a new language or pulled off a full-scale home makeover. Be kinder to yourself and don’t hesitate to reach out and open up if you’re struggling or you’ve got things on your mind.
Lockdown restrictions are easing gradually and many of us are looking forward to seeing friends and family, eating out and being able to treat our locks to a long-overdue cut. As we look forward to spring/summer, make your health and wellbeing a priority. Exercise regularly, enjoy the fresh air, take good care of your skin, eat well and recognise the importance of looking after your body and mind.