Boris Johnson announced last night that the British public are not to leave their homes unless "absolutely essential".
Whether you are a key-worker still going to your job, a family now all at home for the foreseeable future, or someone who needs to self-isolate for the next 12 weeks, staying protected and healthy, both physically and mentally, is absolutely vital.
Of course, there are a few key things we all need to be doing during the pandemic to keep ourselves and others safe and physically healthy. But mental health is also important to maintain during what is set to be a confusing, stressful, and literally isolating time.
How to stay safe and healthy during the coronavirus
Maintain social distancing and lockdown rules
The lockdown rules laid out by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on are the most important ways to keep us all safe and healthy during the pandemic.
The measures are as follows:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Only go out for essential purposes – medical reasons, for food or essential key work (that cannot be done from home)
- When you do go out, stay 2 metres away from people
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home, and often throughout the day for 20 seconds each time
Doing this protects you and the most vulnerable in society, and so it’s the best way to stay safe and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic.
Prioritise your mental health as much as possible
Psychotherapist Noel McDermott explained, “Many people are being affected by fear and anxiety at this time and this can make us more ill and less effective at making good decisions. Stress is linked to ill health and reduction in immune functioning, so being able to manage your stress responses will have direct health benefits.”
Noel explains that checking social media and the news, with its constant coronavirus updates, can be hugely detrimental to our mental health. He advised, “Try not to obsessively follow the news if it makes you anxious and regularly for all of us take a break from the news full stop! Remember the things you enjoy doing and do them.”
In the same vein, keeping positive communication up with your loved ones is absolutely vital. Noel advised, “Social isolation does not mean cut off all contact with the outside world, your friends and family. Now more than ever keep your emotional and social contacts going.
“Remember we live in the digital age. The virus does not transmit across the phone, or by text, it doesn’t go from one Instagram post to the next. It doesn’t jump out a computer screen during a Skype or zoom call – stay in touch. The most stressful thing we can do to any human is to cut them off from social contact. It’s why it is a punishment in prison for example, so let’s not do that here.”
You can also look after your children’s mental health with apps like Cosmic Kids: the yoga and mindfulness app for children.
Take advantage of exercise – despite the restrictions
Boris Johnson has rules that we are all only allowed outside once each day to exercise. But, for many of, this may be more than even during normal times. Now that more of us than ever are at home (and the sun is shining), it’s a great chance to take advantage of getting outside during the day, and boosting our physical exercise.
And with some of us having slightly more free time, it’s time to prioritise the things that ensure our bodies are as healthy as can be.
Plus, exercise is well-known to be one of the best ways to keep your general health in tip-top shape. Harvard Medical School say, “Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies, including exercise.”
Making the most of at-home, online exercise classes and videos can be a brilliant way to stay active at this time – see our pick of the best here. If you are coping with the kids at home, try these family fitness activities.
Joe Wicks AKA The Body Coach is also running daily 9am fitness sessions – targeted towards kids, but brilliant for the whole family.
Eat the right things to fuel your body
When things get scary and worrying, your default reaction may be to stress-eat everything in sight.
It’s only natural – when your face stress, your body goes into fight or flight mode, releasing cortisol into our blood stream. And cortisol increases hunger, as the body attempts to gather all the energy it can to face the stress.
But what will really be of most benefit to your body is continuing, as best you can, a healthy balanced diet. The Association of UK Dietitian’s say, “We would encourage maintaining a health balanced diet in order to support immune function (include copper, folate, iron, selenium, zinc and vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D). We don’t recommend any one food over another, but instead encourage eating a variety of foods to maintain a health balanced diet.”
However, they are keen to make clear no food can stop you from getting COVID-19. They say, “Simply put, you cannot “boost” your immune system through diet, and no specific food or supplement will prevent you catching COVID-19/Coronavirus”.
Try out some relaxation practises
Your body’s immune system is weakened if you are overly stressed, so it might just be time to get in that meditation or yoga practise that you’d always meant to try.
There are a huge range of podcasts and apps to help with meditation – including the Calm and Headspace apps.
Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube is free, and she posts yoga practises which are specifically catered towards achieving calm and soothing a frantic mind. Cosmic yoga is also a great tool for helping calm your children down, too.
Breathwork is also thought to be a great way of reducing stress – the NHS offer some exercises here.
Stay safe – and healthy – from the team at GoodtoKnow.