By Samantha Clayton, OLY, ISSA-CPT
Vice President, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness, Herbalife Nutrition
We are living in stressful times. Due to the pandemic situation, many people are struggling to master the art of working from home while balancing the needs of a home-bound family. Many are also stressed over work uncertainties due to fluctuating economic situation and movement restrictions that are keeping people indoors more often, limiting social interactions and outdoor activities.
In fact, these are top reasons that contributed to the deterioration of mental health amongst consumers according to the Asia Pacific Health Inertia Survey 2021, where 6 in 10 respondents indicated that both their mental and physical health are in a less than ideal state. Those who noticed the deterioration of the latter attributed it to the lack of physical activity, eating more unhealthy food and the lack of community support to continue their exercise regime.
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.
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. Movement releases endorphins, which positively impact our mood and help us reclaim our energy. This is true even when we speak to Asia Pacific consumers for the Health Inertia Survey where 47% of them said exercise helped improve their mental health.
Without a gym or an exercise class to go to in person, many find themselves without a support group to motivate them. Online courses – from yoga to Pilates, and strength training to aerobics – are available, 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.
Food is fuel and provides much-needed energy to support our bodies. Research shows that during the pandemic, unhealthy snack sales are up as people seek 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.
While challenging, it is important to seek a balanced nutrition diet that provides the nutrients you need to fuel your 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.
Sleep is key to replenishing our energy levels. During times of stress, people often find sleep more elusive. Creating a sleep space is key to getting good sleep and it starts with a dark room free of distractions. Dedicate your bedroom exclusively to sleep if you are able, so you aren’t tempted to work or do hobbies. Take a break from the digital world and when you head to bed, leave the electronic devices in another place. Like many parents do for their babies, create a sleep ritual: a hot bath, a great book, a cup of herbal tea, and then lights out.
Even though you 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 our fitness and active lifestyle journey. A supportive community of friends, gym or workout mates as well as fitness enthusiasts around can encourage us and keep us on track as we work towards our health goals. The advent of technology has enabled us to also build these communities virtually too, in addition to the groups we build physically. Many health and fitness apps today have a social aspect that enable us to get connected with like-minded individuals or communities to exchange tips and find inspiration for our exercise routine.
Schedule alone time
On the flip side, with all this togetherness, many people yearn for solitude. Scheduling time alone, even for 30 minutes, will positively impact your mood and energy. Take a walk in the woods or explore a new neighborhood. Find time to go in your room, turn off the lights and breathe, or grab a book and find a quiet place to enjoy your solitude. Now more than ever, you need time to 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.