Updated: Feb 5
So we're in January, and we're in lockdown here again in the UK and many other parts of the world. It's hard for many as it means parents are home-schooling and maybe working at the same time. For some, it's the loneliness of living in isolation, for others it's living in a house full of family people or houseshares and there's limited private space.
We're not over this pandemic yet. Time will tell when this will be over, however, one thing we can control is how to maintain our health and wellness whilst this stuff is lurking in the background.
So after having Covid in November 2020, I have had to change some habits.
No excuses. These are some obvious habits, that if I told you what they were, you would laugh in my face and say 'yes I know all about that!'
But the question is.
Do we do it?
I didn't before.
But now I'm paying attention as my energy depends on it.
Being a relatively healthy person I was taken aback by how Covid can floor you. Mainly in the area of energy. You could be fine one day but totally shattered the next.
Some folk has had no symptoms for months post-Covid then hit full-on again.
So I'm going to share with you 8 ways to be healthier in 2021 and it won't cost you a penny.
Actually, some points will even save you money from improved wellness.
They are obvious, but I'll elaborate on the why, and hopefully we can all be healthier this year and do all the wonderful stuff we dream about when this crazy lockdown time is over.
Good health does not have to be costly or expensive. And this list is designed to be a 'doable' one. No expensive equipment or ingredients needed.
Just a few lifestyle 'tweaks'.
Pick one tip and do it consistently and see how you feel. Later on, pick 2 then 3, and see what you can do. Hopefully, the improved energy or result will motivate you to fit them into your daily habits.
If I said to you drink more water, it's good for you, you'll probably say oh yeah, but it tastes boring! You might say to me you prefer diet coke or juice or some other exciting beverage. We all know what to do, it's doing it, right? I'm only going to tell you how drinking more water changed things for me.
I found that anytime I was getting irritated, frustrated, or not 'with it' I would drink a glass of water. Things changed. If I had too much mental load, I would drink a glass of water, and feel so much better. I'm not sure of the science but I feel charged ready to face the world.
What changed for me was also improving the taste. Water, at the end of the day, tastes bland and there are inexpensive ways to make water taste better. Cut slices of cucumber, lemon, oranges, and even fresh herbs such as mint are easy ways to help us hydrate more. Some other benefits are better brain function, detoxing, water helps digestion, there are so many more benefits. Water also carries nutrients and oxygen to your cells. Next time you feel a bit irritated or impatient. Try a glass of water!
2) Want free Vitamin D? Get outside!
Vitamin D is hitting the news in a big way. So much that even the government is supplying Vitamin D supplements for the vulnerable to help them overcome the pandemic
I remember speaking to a doctor years ago and she said to me no matter what anyone says, most people in the UK are low on Vitamin D. It was a funny thing to say so I took note.
Getting yourself outside for a walk, recreational exercise, or simply walking to the local shops instead of driving can make a big difference to your overall health.
The main reason being that your skin gets its dose of Vitamin D.
Getting out first thing in the morning helps also stimulates melatonin production which is the sleep hormone that can help us sleep better at night. Sleep has been an issue for many in lockdown, so getting out early in the day might just improve that. It's incredible the chemistry that goes on in our bodies. Getting fresh air is also great for wellness!
This is the one that I struggle with the most. When I was working in restaurants being on my feet all day and in an 'active' job it wasn't an issue, but now spending most of my time at home exercise is virtually non-existent. Moving has so many benefits from building a healthy heart to detoxing by sweating and it gets all the blood pumping to do its job properly. Did you know that exercise or movement helps the lymphatic system do its thing and can boost immunity?
In the book Dr. Chattergee of the 4 pillar plan, he talks about how even while the kettles boiling for a tea, he'll do a few squats ( when you put arms out in front of you and bend your knees - back straight- bend your bum down then rise up again.) Try 10 squats before your water boils for your cuppa tea. Then viola, that's a mini-workout.
We've started to do 10 minutes walks after breakfast and lunch, and the whole mood of the house is so much better. Other ways of incorporating moving could be cleaning, gardening, dancing, or simply running around the house playing a game with the kids ( if you have them!) Anything to help us move. Moving helps us sweat, good for the heart, and helps removes toxins from the body.
4) Get more Zzz's
Zzz's is sleep. Sleep is time for the body to recharge. This is the one I find the hardest.
I have always been a late owl since my teenage years, and love the tranquillity of when the entire house is asleep.
What would happen if you didn't charge your phone when the battery went flat?
I'm sure the phone wouldn't work. It needs a recharge to refuel in energy so that it can run in the day. It's the same for our bodies. We need time to recharge and refuel, where the body needs repair, or reset it needs that time. Did you know a lot goes on more in our bodies at night than in the day? I was listening to Jim Kwik from Kwik learning (a brain expert) recently and learned something new re the benefits of sleep. The two that stood out for me were 1) sleep helps consolidate long and short-term memory. Secondly, sleep removes brain plague* ( I have posted an interesting article from the National Institute for health below) where the brain clears toxins whilst you sleep! How clever is that? If we truly understood how the quality of sleep affects the quality of our day, then maybe we would think twice about our attitude towards sleep! I wonder if that is why we feel so good after a good night's sleep?
I blame books I used to love reading to the early hours of the day and it's not a habit I have managed to kick off. But I've started to give myself a goal of lights out by 11 pm.
It's making such a difference that my family has even begun to notice. I have found I'm functioning better in the day when I have had a good night's sleep.
5) Eat well. choose foods that look after your gut.
Choosing what to eat is free. You are free to decide what to eat. What fuels you? It's worth looking at your energy levels if you eat certain foods and make sure there is a balance. I'm a big fan of eating the rainbow. eating different colour foods means we have a balance of vitamins and minerals.
How does feeding the gut well, affect us? Did you know that 70% of your immune system is based in the gut? Simply choosing the foods that feed your 'healthy bacteria' in your gut is a big way to improve your immunity. These foods are known by the term Prebiotics. Prebiotics are great as they are the 'food' for the healthy bacteria that reside in our gut. Most of us have heard of probiotics which are strains of healthy bacteria that live in the gut. This healthy bacteria helps break down our food and helps us get the most nutrients out of our foods. Eating foods that are 'live' which means healthy bacteria are present, can massively improve our gut. Ever feel bloated after a meal? Probiotics foods can help, examples are live yogurts, fermented foods such as sauerkraut or miso, and drinks such as kombucha and kefir. Examples of prebiotic foods are bananas, apples, garlic, onions, leeks, and asparagus.
6) What's eating your energy?
Dealing with Stress. Assessing this can improve your health and it won't cost you to check in with yourself. The bottom line is energy is like currency. It can be spent.
How often do you feel inspired and full of energy? Maybe you did something fun, or read a book or did some exercise? How about when you feel exhausted and low on energy?
A bad TV program? Bad news? Too much digital time? a problem in a relationship? unresolved situations?
Energy is a funny thing and often we do not realize it's like a currency. I've started to do more of what energises me, It's often reading, or painting or writing, why not find out what energises you? In the same way, look at what saps your energy, maybe it's going through an inbox full of adverts, why not use the unsubscribe button and simplify your inbox? Maybe it's because were in lockdown and you're feeling isolated? Pick up the phone to a friend or family member and check in on them ( surprisingly, I've done this, checking in on folk and how my low energy becomes fully charged in the process or reaching out!) As your mobile phone needs to recharge so that you can use it to make phone calls, your body does too and its a brilliant thing to find out what 'charges' you. Even finding out what saps your energy is a good start to dealing with it.
7) Learn something new
We may be in a pandemic, but it doesn't mean our lives are on hold.
There are many providers that are providing level 2 or above classes that are free.
What about the skills to improve your work options? What about a hobby that you have always wanted to learn. Learning has proven to improve brain health. I'm a sucker for learning, I love learning and currently have a good number of courses on the go, be it studying about nutrition, or writing, or understanding herbs. Learning something new regularly helps the brain's cognitive abilities to keep in top shape. Why not learn a new skill, game, or hobby today. Books from the library are great and there are lots of free courses about! Many people have pivoted their careers to do something they love in this lockdown. ( I'm one of those folk!)
The act of writing also helps gets thoughts out on paper where it releases the internal churn of worries and anxieties. If you're not a writer, then what about doodles? They also help the brain process things!
8) Breathe deep.
When we're stressed, in shock, or worried, we can breathe lightly and this can affect our oxygen intake from our breathing. Stress is awful and is something that is part of life. However, we can learn how to manage how we respond to it. I believe breathing is so key to helping us get over worry and feeds our bodies with oxygen.
I heard Jim Kwik a tremendous brain, memory coach, talk about posture and that if we are slumped over and were not sitting upright then we are limiting the oxygen that is fuelling our bodies. He states that most of our oxygen is stored in the lower part of our lungs and if we are slumped over then that reduces oxygen levels for our bodies to function.
Why not try this? Breathe deep and count to 4, then hold to a count of 3, then breathe out to the count of 5. At first, you might feel a tiny bit dizzy, but that's ok, (but don't over-exert yourself). Breathing deep is a brilliant way to de-stress and helps calm the body whilst filling the lungs with oxygen.
Wishing you all a super new year, focus on the positives, start with baby steps and see how your body responds, and may you be healthy and happy!
Unsplash images 1) daniele-levis-pelusi 2) Arnaud Mesurer and 3) Jess bailey
Disclaimer: This blog is not claiming to cure, heal or medicate any health condition and all opinions are the author's own.