The Coronavirus lockdown is an incredibly challenging time for me, and I know for many others. However, there are ways in which we can try to turn it to our advantage if we are MINDFUL of how we spend it, whilst the weeks keep rolling on. Here are some of my health and well-being tips for the coronavirus lockdown to help you look after yourself, to be mindful of what you are eating, and to ensure you are getting some rest while also using your time constructively!! It is very much about looking after ourselves both physically and mentally.

Tip 1: Prepare an emergency pack

Comfort eating happens! We are only human. Sometimes we feel it is all we have when we are going through a difficult time, and food is all around us. If you are prone to emotional and stress-related snacking, do not eat any food straight from the package. Grabbing snacks from the package is a recipe for binge eating and overindulgence. Try pre-portioning snacks such as nuts, popcorn, or sliced veggies into little bags or containers. Consider these your emergency snack packs — or just your healthy snack options on an ongoing basis.

Tip 2: Try ‘being’, rather than ‘doing’

If you are feeling unmotivated, be kind to yourself and do something you feel like doing. Get that balance between doing things you SHOULD be doing and doing things you WANT to do.  If you are the type that feels guilty doing nothing, tell yourself that time does not always need to be filled.

Tip 3: Create a new routine

If you are not normally at home much- compartmentalise your day if you like structure and routine. If you like variety, then vary your new routine too! e.g. Set aside a specific time to exercise every day, to do housework, or to relax.

Tip 4: Set your alarm

Feeling unproductive? If you are the proactive, ‘loves-to-be-doing’ type, perhaps you feel your days are lacking structure and are unfulfilling. If you want to get more done, try getting up earlier a few days of the week, if it helps to give you a sense of normality, and plan each day to help you get things done. By setting your alarm a few days a week it may help you to achieve more of what you need to do (whilst others in the house are still asleep).

Tip 5: Be intentional about your well-being

When we set intentions in advance, we are more likely to do them. What do you need to specifically do today to help both your mental and physical well-being? If you find your days are becoming consumed by TV or social media, try limiting TV viewing to evenings only and have breaks from social media by leaving your phone in another room.

Tip 6: Structure your grazing

If you are feeling the urge to nibble on food all day, try to structure you’re eating with 3 meals and 1-2 snacks- plan your food for the day rather than leaving what you eat to chance. Do not kid yourself that you are eating less food if you skip meals and graze all day- mouthfuls here and there really add up! Also try to eat a balanced, varied diet, as a diet high in sugar and saturated fat and low in nutrients can have a negative impact not just on how we feel physically but mentally too.

Tip 7: Have a cup of tea

Have you ever wondered why people offer hot tea in emotional situations? It turns out there is more to it than soothing steam. Tea contains helpful antioxidants. And green tea and matcha tea contain an amino acid called L-theanine that may help reduce stress levels. Try swopping out your regular coffees or teas for the odd herbal or green tea.

If you tend to snack late at night, try dark cherries. Not only do they offer a sweet treat, but they also help increase natural levels of melatonin to help you sleep. Dark chocolate (at least 72% cacao), whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits, and vegetables all have a part to play in maintaining a healthy mind.

Tip 8: Swop the unhealthy for the healthy

Eating a whole bag of greasy chips can raise your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. If you need a salty snack, try eating popcorn (with salt and oil only) instead. You will get the whole grains that are one important source of the feel-good hormone serotonin. You will also get antioxidants to boost your immune system and far fewer calories than chips. Roasted chickpeas are another great crunchy option with protein and fibre to fill you up. Check out my Roasted Chickpea recipe.

If stress, anger, or sadness trigger your sweet tooth, remember this: The sugar high comes with a low afterward. This low can lead to increased cravings later. Sweets and processed foods can even make certain mental concerns, including symptoms of depression, worse. As an alternative to your favourite sweets, I recommend keeping a bowl of your favourite fruit out in the open. You are more likely to eat fruit and veggies when they are easy to access. I also suggest keeping frozen berries on hand that can quickly be thrown into a blender to make a healthy sorbet.

Tip 9: Drop expectations

At this challenging time, perhaps you need to lower your expectations of yourself. Perhaps modify your goals to take the pressure off yourself. On the other hand, you might find this current time is a great opportunity to create and achieve new goals. Whatever works for YOU.

Tip 10: Find balance

Balance any necessary tasks/chores with enjoyable activities to help you feel a sense of achievement as well as pleasure. This is a great time to do some gardening or have a major decluttering session, try a new form of exercise.

Tip 11: Home cooking

As we are forced to eat at home at the moment- why not try out some new healthy recipes or cook more of what you do not normally have time to cook!! If you are finding yourself doing more baking, enjoy making a few healthy treats. Try not to use it as an excuse to overindulge on baked goods to avoid gaining unnecessary weight during this period.

Tip 12: Get moving

If you are more sedentary than usual, do not underestimate the benefits of exercise. Daily or regular movement and stretching has major benefits for both the body and mind. Take a walk, go for a run or a cycle in the mornings. Schedule a specific time for yourself to exercise every day. Fresh out of workout ideas?…….join our exclusive workout video library club. Lack motivation?…….. join one of our online group classes. https://sandownsweat.co.za/online-training/

See lockdown as a mental ‘slowdown’- this is an opportunity for you to be MINDFUL, pause, reflect, get some insight and clarity about yourself and your life, or even evaluate some habits you want to change. Is there anything you would like to change about your well- being, whether it is aspects of your lifestyle? Most of us are normally running around leading hectic lives, operating on ‘autopilot’ with very little time to pause and reflect, so maybe this is a real chance to take stock, start thinking in new ways and perhaps make some plans for yourself in preparation for when this period is over or even some immediate changes.

For more information on how I support my clients with their exercise, weight loss and weight maintenance goals, check out all my services on www.sandownsweat.co.za or email me: megan@sandownsweat.co.za

Yours in Health & Mindfulness

Megan Seymour

Movement Coach & Head of Pilates at Sandown SWEAT

LYNO Practitioner & Nutrition Coach