We have all worked hard together in the UK in an effort to combat the continuing spread of coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease it can cause. It has been difficult and many have made deep personal sacrifices.
Much progress has been made, and crucially, the R-number is now below 1.0 in almost every area of the UK, including London.
Staying alone or separated from people who you usually meet has reduced the risk of the spread to COVID-19. But it has also brought about the unfortunate converse increase in risk of the onset of psychosomatic disorders. This can mean increased anxiety or stress, which in turn aggravate underlying physical problems, thus having an impact on both mental health and physical health. The longer the period of isolation the increased risk of such issues developing.
An extended period of enforced isolation can affect both mental health and physical.
Many people live alone in big cities like London. The majority of their social interaction is when they are out and about amongst other people, whether at work or socialising by inviting guests to their homes. Even if you live with others, the stress and anxiety of the dramatic change in the social and economic environment we live in can easily make you feel isolated and alone.
If the streets are suddenly deserted and people find themselves stuck at home, loneliness can hit hard even in a big city.
There are also clear implications on levels of physical activity. The effective closure of high streets not only mean no more trips to the gym but even the intrinsic exercise we get from the daily commute to work all of a sudden disappears.
It is essential to focus on staying fit and healthy whilst you are stuck at home and also in the months immediately following. Your body and mind need to be gradually brought back to the longer term norm.
The following 5 ideas can help you stay fit and keep mental health issues at bay.
If you are suddenly working from a non-office environment, and stressing about normality collapsing all around you, it is understandably easy to lapse into poor posture and slouch around much of each day.
Whilst it is probably unreasonable to expect most people to begin an intensive exercise regime at home, we can all adopt a few simple stretching routines to keep unnecessary aches and pains at bay.
Follow best posture practice when working from home and try the following simple stretches several times a day to realign your muscles and joints into better positions.
In many ways we get better as we age, but there are a few intrinsic childhood habits that we lose as we get older, even though they are good for us. One well-known one is eternal optimism (we could all do with that during the coronavirus scare) but another less recognised is the wake-up stretch.
The next time you are around an under 5-year old as they wake up, watch how much they stretch themselves naturally. Compare that to the typical morning rushed awakening that most of us endure – there is little time spared for stretching.
When you are working from home, ensure you spend a few minutes each morning stretching just like you would have done when younger to realign your posture after several hours of lack of movement in bed.
To gently stretch and relax neck muscles perform the following exercises. Do three sets of each in the morning, afternoon and finally just before bed every day.
Lift your head slowly to look up at the ceiling until your neck is fully stretched. Hold for two seconds before slowly moving your head back down until your chin is touching the top of your chest.
If you have been at the computer all day, your neck will probably feel quite tight the first time you try this. Take it slowly and the tightness should relax gradually.
“Side to side”
Turn your head right slowly as far as until your neck muscles feel slightly stretched, pause for two seconds and then do the same movement towards the left.
“An ear to the shoulder”
Lean your head right so your ear moves towards shoulder until your muscles feel stretched, pause for two seconds and then repeat towards the other shoulder.
The risk of suffering repetitive strain injury from keyboard work increases with poor posture.
Ensure you find a suitable place to work from at home and take adequate breaks You will probably find it easier to take the breaks when at home than at work, but getting your seating right is equally important. As attractive as it may seem, working from the sofa is not good for your neck, shoulder and back muscles.
When you take a break, if you are feeling well, go for a 5-minute walk outside away from crowds. This is currently deemed safe in terms of the spread of coronavirus. As well as being some physical exercise, it is a great way to rest and rebalance emotionally and spend some time being mindful.
You can check out this article for more tips on working from home effectively.
We recently published three immune system boosting recipes which are very easy to follow. Packed with essential vitamins and anti-oxidants, combine all three into your weekly diet for a genuine boost to help your immune system strength.
Two of the recipes can be prepared once and frozen in smaller batches for easy regular use. Enjoy real ginger extract tea in less than a minute every day and use the frozen chicken broth recipe to add essential nutrients for health in a wide variety of recipes instead of water from soups to rice. Together these offer a good way of avoiding long supermarket queues and shortages during these challenging times.
Many people in the City live alone. Entering lockdown can mean that the only daily social contact they have is immediately removed. Over time, this can have profound adverse psychological effects if not monitored and dealt with effectively.
When you are alone, and especially if you begin to feel down, it is important to focus on achieving mindfulness and appreciating that being alone does not mean you have to be lonely. Setting aside a period of me-time can be really good for you too.
Use these challenging times to reassess the things that should really matter to you. Try to minimise your anxiety over commercial issues and instead focus your mind on showing love and compassion to family, friends and neighbours.
Less is more, when more is not enough.
It is not unusual to suffer problems sleeping during anxious times. A lockdown period to restrict the spread of coronavirus is of course stressful for most, but being stuck at home all day can also means you have not had sufficient exercise, so you are also not in a physically ideal state to sleep well.
You can help yourself sleep better by following the military’s own special technique for falling asleep or get a professional to assist.
Once the restrictions have been lifted, get yourself a restoring massage at home from a professional massage therapist. For many people in London it will be the first time they have someone else in their home. Do not rush and use the booking to relax your mind and your muscles. Not sure if you need a massage? Find out easily if your body is showing signs that you do!
Follow our safety guidelines and remember we are all in this together, so please show equal respect and consideration to your therapists.