THESE are stressful times, whether we work or learn from home. The long lockdowns where people were forced to stay home brought a lot of worries for people, especially for working women who had to juggle work-related requirements and family needs.
As a result many homemakers tended to set aside personal care issues, like exercising. Many felt too tired to even lift a muscle to exercise with all the worries that people confront in this pandemic, whether it’s livelihood, medical needs and other concerns. Perhaps, even if they wanted to exercise, mobility restrictions prevent them going out and enjoy the sun while doing physical exercises.
The Asia Pacific Health Inertia Survey 2021 mentioned that the issues above were among the top reasons why the mental health of consumers continue to deteriorate, where six in 10 respondents said that both their mental and physical health are in a less than ideal state. As for the latter reason, many said the lack of physical activity, eating more unhealthy food and the lack of community support to continue their exercise regime were among the reasons that contributed to a decline in maintaining optimum physical health.
It is at times like these, when we feel the most spent, that we need to remember how to take care of ourselves. Here are 5 hard-earned tips to help you face everything from relearning algebra to handling yet another video conference call.
According to Samantha Clayton, OLY, ISSA-CPT, and Vice President, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness of Herbalife Nutrition, said that with all the juggling people are doing to keep themselves and their families thriving, finding time to exercise can sometimes fall off the “must-do” list.
She told FrontpagePH.com that movement releases endorphins, which positively impact people’s mood and help them reclaim their energy. “This is true even when we speak to Asia Pacific consumers for the Health Inertia Survey where 47 percent of them said exercise helped improve their mental health.”
Without a gym or an exercise class to go to in person, Clayton said many find themselves without a support group to motivate them. Online courses – from yoga to Pilates, and strength training to aerobics – are available, she pointed out, and many are free. “Also, a daily walk, bike ride, or run before the family wakes up can help set you in an excellent mood to embrace the day,” Clayton retorted.
Clayton cited the importance of food to humans, which is fuel and provides much-needed energy to support our bodies. She pointed to research that showed that during the pandemic, unhealthy snack sales went up as people sought ways to cope by eating comfort foods they previously avoided. “This is in line with our findings from our Asia Pacific Health Inertia Survey where the main reasons consumers eat less healthily is because they binge-eat when they are anxious and worried, as well as the lack of motivation to eat healthy food.”
Although it can be both challenging and daunting, Clayton said it is still important to seek a balanced nutrition diet that provides the nutrients needed to fuel daily activities and promote and maintain good health. “Healthy foods ensure your body gets the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs to work. Mix up your diet with nutritional shakes that add protein – a healthy and delicious way to power up. And to involve your entire household, make healthy eating a family affair by making creative recipes that are sneakily nutritious.”
The mom of four also pointed to sleep as an important key to replenish our energy levels. During times of stress, people often find sleep more elusive, she said, so creating a sleep space is key to getting good sleep and it starts with a dark room free of distractions. She explained that dedicating a bedroom exclusively for sleep if one is able is important that can help one avoid temptations of work or doing hobbies. It is important that we take a break from the digital world by leaving electronic devices and gadgets in another place when going to bed. She gave an example what many parents do for their babies, where they create a sleep ritual for their little ones. A hot bath, a great book or a cup of herbal tea, and then lights out, can do the trick for that much-needed shut-eye.
Clayton advised that even though we may be surrounded by family and colleagues via video, there is nothing like speaking with a good friend or long-distance relative to laugh and chat. “Connections support our health, helping to sustain us during difficult times. Whether you pick up the phone, text, talk or write an old school friend a letter, connecting with others who lift your spirits is healthy for your well-being, and will help rejuvenate you.”
Community support is also beneficial for fitness and active lifestyle journey. She said a supportive community of friends, gym or workout mates as well as fitness enthusiasts around can help build encouragement and help keep us on track while working towards our health goals. She also pointed to the advent of technology, which has enabled people to also build these communities even if virtually, aside from groups built physically. There are many health and fitness apps today, she added, that have a social aspect that enable people get connected with like-minded individuals or communities to exchange tips and find inspiration for exercise routines.
Schedule alone time
On the flip side, with all this togetherness, it is still good that many people yearn for solitude. Scheduling time alone, even if for a short 30 minutes, will positively impact mood and energy. An example is taking a walk in the woods or exploring a new neighborhood. Many, she said, find time alone by going to their room, turning off the lights and breathe, or grabbing a book and finding a quiet place to enjoy a time of solitude. Now more than ever, being alone can help one relax, refuel, or simply daydream.
“When times are tough, we need to be gentle with ourselves. The best way we can reenergize when we are feeling down is to prioritize and take care of our mental and physical health needs. From healthy eating and exercising, to alone time or laughing with a friend, our bodies need help refueling and reenergizing,” Clayton concluded.