6 ways to keep healthy and happy through this second lockdown…

As many of us are being told to stay indoors, and limit trips outside and social contact, a lot can come up mentally and emotionally. Aside from the general worry people may have about their physical health with all the news from around the world, there’s the larger toll that this is taking on our mental health.

With the core guideline we’re being given, that we must maintain social distance and for some isolate for these long lengths of time is so unnatural for us as human beings. So I just wanted to share with you some of the practises that help me and I know will help you too!

1 – Have a routine (as much as you can)

We know how important routine is, especially for kids, under normal conditions. And when schools are closed and many people are working from home or told to stay at home, it might feel challenging to keep to routines. But it’s actually much better for everyone’s mental health to try to keep a routine going, as much as possible.

Make sure you eat meals at regular times, and are sleeping, waking and exercising at set times, and maintaining social (socially distant) contact. Unstructured time can create boredom, spikes in anxiety or depression, which can lead to unhealthy patterns of coping.

2 – Start an at-home exercise routine

Working out at home in these times is obviously a good way to stay healthy and kill indoor time. There are lots of options, and so many available on Youtube right now that you can follow. From workout videos to yoga and Pilates. Amazing free stuff is available too from Davina Mccall with her free month series and for yoga – my favourite, Yoga with Adrienne or my amazing friend Kerri here https://youtu.be/0tvUodrgJlw Many online workout sources are offering free access or longer free trial periods during this time, which might be worth looking into. But again, anything that gets your heart pumping or builds muscle is excellent for both physical and mental health.

3 – Get outside in nature as much as you can! There are so many good reasons to do so. Lots of recent research finds that spending time in nature has huge positive impact to both mental and physical health. For instance, multiple studies have found that time in green and blue space is associated with reduced anxiety and depression. In fact, “forest bathing,” – spending time around trees, also known as Shinrin yoku is a practise in Japan and is known to significantly reduce chronic health issues. Including reduced risk of coronary heart disease, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol, lower heart rate, and reduced all-cause mortality and death from heart disease.

But what’s fascinating is that it doesn’t seem to have to do with just the extra activity, the sunshine, or the air quality (though these certainly play a role). Forest bathing may actually help the immune system: One mechanism is thought to be through the chemicals that trees release, phytoncides—some studies have found that people who spent more time in nature had greater activity of immune cells.

So get out to the park and breathe in some phytoncides – this is a really good habit for body and mind.

4 – Meditate, or just breathe

Meditation has lots of research behind it, as most people by now know—it’s been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and even increase the volume of certain areas of the brain. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinnat UMass, has been shown, through numerous studies, to be effective—and this you can also find free on Youtube!

But if you feel meditation isn’t for you, just breathing slowly can make such a difference when you feel stressed. Again, lots of guided breathwork videos can be found on Youtube or feel free to subscribe to my channel here https://www.youtube.com/user/fearonlisa/ where I have guided meditations and will be posting my regular breathing practises. 5 – Maintain community and social connection

As mentioned, we’re fundamentally social creatures, and during crises it’s natural to want to gather. Social connectivity is the perhaps the greatest determinant of wellbeing there is and is one of our basic human needs. Unfortunately, it’s the opposite of what we can do right now, so we have to be creative, to maintain both psychological closeness and a sense of community. Texting and social media are ok, but picking up the phone and talking or getting together family or friends on a video zoom is so much better! 6 – Practice gratitude

This is not the easiest thing to do in these times, particularly if you’ve been really effected by the pandemic, like job or business loss, or illness. But practicing gratitude for the things we do have has been be hugely beneficial to mental health. For instance, in a big study on the subject, researchers found that writing down five things one was grateful just once a week was significantly linked to increased well-being.

So even though it might be a challenge right now, write down some of the things you’re grateful for; or if you have children and it’s easier, try creating a game talking about and listing aloud things that make you all happy and that you’re thankful for I hope these steps have been useful for you. If anyone is feeling the impact of this time right now, I am offering a free 30 minute coaching discovery call – where you can find out how coaching can help you move forward.

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