As we hurtle towards the end of week three of official lockdown in the UK, the dust is starting to settle and we are all starting to adjust to this new normal. But as the steps start to dwindle and the snack consumption skyrockets, now more than ever it is vital that we look after ourselves, and one way to tackle this is to ensure we focus on our mental wellbeing and the practice of mindful eating.
Mental wellbeing does not have a single definition, but it does encompass factors such as:
- The sense of feeling good about ourselves and being able to function well individually or in relationships
- The ability to deal with the ups and downs of life, such as coping with challenges and making the most of opportunities
- The feeling of connection to our community and surroundings
- Having control and freedom over our lives
- Having a sense of purpose and feeling valued
Anyone fighting on the front line will without a doubt feel a sense of purpose every day, but do you feel truly valued? These are also testing times where we all feel a lack of freedom over our lives but community connection is at an all time high as we all rally to support one another.
Still it comes as no surprise that mental, emotional and physical exhaustion will all contribute to a lack of positive mental wellbeing along with the fear, uncertainty and stress experienced daily when trying to provide care for anyone who has been affected by Covid-19 or otherwise.
Finding coping mechanisms to restore any imbalance is vital. Here are a few ways to do just that;
- Get plenty of sleep – try not to fall down the rabbits hole of a Netflix marathon every night, sleep is vital for mental health and so be sure to add in a few early nights during the week where possible
- Activity and exercise – the initial enthusiasm may be twindling but focus on keeping moving, walk, run, cycle and breathe in the fresh air
- Quiet time – we all need moments of calm, especially if you are still going out to work or in lockdown with others and so make time for yourself and don’t apologise for it
- Stay connected – don’t isolate yourself emotionally, keep in touch with loved ones and your local community, offer or accept help when needed
At this time, it is also worth practicing ‘mindful eating’…
When it comes to being cooped up in the house all day, it’s far too easy to turn to food for comfort or boredom. But what most of us don’t realise, is that what we eat can affect us physically, emotionally and mentally too. Mindful eating is about knowing what your body needs.. Learn to understand your hunger and fullness cues – this is also a great thing for kids to learn to help them regulate and not need to constantly snack all day long. Taking time to plan meals, prepare and eat will have benefits on how you may be feeling. We have prepared a few easy steps to ensure that what you’re putting in will have the best possible
Be sure to sit down and try not to eat on the go. Eliminate distractions and don’t eat infront of the TV or use the time to check emails, catch up on news or become engrossed in your phone. Focus on the meal and any eating companions you have.
Eat the Rainbow
It sounds simple but not only will it look pretty but you will be flooding your body with much needed nutrients so pile those fruit and veg high. Frozen versions count too.
Try and limit the amount of processed foods you are eating which at this time may be tricky given that for some it will be simply a case of working and re-fuelling. But where possible, cook from fresh. What you put in your belly will affect your mood and your mind.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Try to vary and balance your diet, even if eating on the run. It sounds obvious but we are all creatures of habit, so make an extra effort to eat variety. Try choosing wholewheat instead of white pasta and add where possible, grains and pulses to your diet. For some lockdown means more time to prepare and enjoy food so dust off those cook books and try a new recipe or experiment with what’s in the cupboard.
These times are uncertain and much is out of our control as we wait for things to return to normal. So in the meantime, be sure to focus on the things that you can control and tune into your mental wellbeing to keep yourself and those around you strong and capable.