As the world starts to come to terms with the new reality of many people working from home, and in some extremes having to self-isolate due to COVID-19, there are drastic changes to the way we will be going about our normal day.
Diet, health and wellbeing don’t have to be impacted whilst working from home or self-isolating, in fact this could be a good time to implement some good practises that could be carried over when everyone returns back to work following the COVID-19 restrictions.
Here are some top tips to make sure you keep your health and wellbeing during this time.
Keep A Structure
First off, having a plan in place for you day will allow you to feel more in control and keeps a semblance of a normal day. Whether you are working from home or self-isolating, getting up at a normal time is a great way to ensure you approach each day the right way.
Getting up and having breakfast will also give you the energy you need and help you curb hunger throughout the day. Make sure you set a time aside for lunch too and if you normally have a coffee break at 10.30am, then make sure you keep to that. Your body will be used to this structure meaning it will help you to feel more comfortable with the transition during this period.
Don’t Eat At Your ‘Desk’
We never advise eating ‘al desko’ in a normal work setting, but now this should apply if you are spending more time at home too. Make sure you give yourself an allocated lunchtime and eat away from where you were working. If this isn’t possible then at least make sure you are logged out and don’t have emails popping up as you eat.
This will allow you to break up your day and will have a positive effect on your wellbeing and productivity.
What to Eat
For breakfast try something filling and nutritious like eggs, fruit or wholegrains to give your body the best start. This will also be a great time to try out things like overnight oats which can be packed full of flavour and goodness.
The primary fuel for your brain is glucose, which comes from carbohydrates. The fibre present in oats keeps your brain sharper for longer, as it provides your brain with a sustainable level of glucose release, and the protein will help you stay fuller for longer. You can add frozen berries and dark chocolate which will increase their nutritional powers and if you leave them in the fridge overnight, it allows the oats absorb the flavour.
For lunch we recommend you have something relatively light like a salad, a wrap or one of our absolute favourites, soup. Eating food that is too heavy at lunchtime will make you tired and lethargic in the afternoon and make it all the easier to lie down on the sofa and watch Homes under the Hammer. Soup is actually a fantastic way to get the vitamins and minerals your body loves as well as being amazing way to lower food waste as you can throw in all the veggies that are starting to look a little past their best but are still perfectly fine to eat.
For dinner have something high protein like salmon, chicken or tofu with some vegetables but don’t overfill your plate. A good way to remember portion sizes is to use your fist. For an evening meal we recommend one fist of protein, one fist of carbohydrates and two fists of fruit and veg.
Don’t be afraid if you can’t get fresh food though, canned, frozen and dried foods are all good. In fact, some frozen food will have higher levels of vitamins and minerals that some ‘fresh’ foods as they are frozen as soon as they are picked.
Vitamins When Staying Indoors
All vitamins and minerals are important but due to the nature of working from home and self-isolation, we believe the vitamin C and vitamin D deserve their own sections in our top tips.
This essential vitamin helps the body absorb calcium, which is important for bone growth and preventing osteoporosis. It also plays a role in boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation.
Exposing your skin to sunlight helps the body produce vitamin D, however, as this will be more difficult during isolation, you will have to find other ways of getting the ‘sunshine vitamin’ into your system.
Vitamin D is found naturally in a few foods, and often added to milk and other products. Mushrooms are a natural source, and the Penn State University found that simply putting them on the windowsill can transform them from containing virtually zero vitamin D to one of nature’s richest food sources in as little as an hour or two. This is because the mushrooms, which are commercially grown in near total darkness, will react to the UV light, churning out loads more antioxidant vitamin D to defend themselves from damage from solar radiation.
We don’t generally recommend supplements, however as vitamin D isn’t always the easiest to maintain the correct levels of, especially if you are self-isolating, then in this instance they could be a good way to keep topped up. Do be mindful of how much you are taking though as it is a fat soluble vitamin and there is too much of a good thing.
Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient for humans. It is a potent antioxidant and contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system.
That doesn’t mean to say it will be able to protect you from COVID-19, but the body needs vitamin C to make collagen, a protein required to help wounds heal. In addition, vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods and helps the immune system work properly to protect the body from disease when eaten as part of a healthy diet.
Vitamin C can be found in all kinds of foods. One of our favourite facts here at MetMUnch is that there is more Vitamin C in a red pepper than there is in an orange. Other fruits and vegetables—such as broccoli, strawberries, baked potatoes, and tomatoes also have vitamin C.
Some foods and beverages that are fortified with vitamin C so check the product labels so you don’t have to stick to fruit to get what you need.
Water accounts for up over 70% of our body and staying at home gives us the perfect chance to keep the liquids flowing and keep our hydration levels up as regular fluid intake is essential for our bodies to function properly. The amount of fluid needed varies between people and according to age, time of year, climatic conditions, diet and levels of physical activity. The average recommended about is 3.7 litres for men, and 2.7 litres for women.
Being de-hydrated can have a significant impact on your mood, attention and memory. Not having enough water also hampers the body’s attempts at regulating temperature. At a cellular level, ‘shrinkage’ occurs as water is effectively borrowed to maintain other stores, such as the blood. So keep those liquids flowing.
It is important to make sure you keep moving, especially when we are now going to be spending more time at home due regardless of whether we are self-isolating or not.
Even if it is just walking back and forth to the kitchen, doing some sit ups or maybe even some chair yoga. Exercise is an essential way to keep the mind and body healthy, and releases feel good endorphins that will help with our mental health.
Make sure you don’t spend too much time on the couch and you stretch every now and then. Staying still for too long working on the couch can have a negative impact on your back and neck in particular so do some neck rolls and stand up more often.
Restrict Social Media
Increasing numbers of studies are showing a correlation between social media use and wellbeing. The temptation at the minute is to keep checking on the situation and keeping tabs on the numbers of cases, however this won’t do your wellbeing any good.
Constantly reading posts and stories relating to the COVID-19 could increase anxiety and stress levels during a confusing time. Screen time can also have an adverse effect on sleep which again can impact on wellbeing.
However, if you are in self-isolation or even just working from home, then we do recommend you use your phones to communicate with friends and family each day. Taking time to call someone will help you feel more connected and lower feelings of anxiety. Messaging someone you haven’t seen in a while is a good way to ensure you don’t start to feel isolated. It’s good to talk.
Take Regular Breaks
Working from home may make you feel like you need to prove that you are doing enough work to your managers, which can lead some people to overexerting themselves and increasing stress levels.
Jump in the shower, call a family member or even just have a cup of tea. Breaking up your day and allowing yourself to take a break can help recharge your battery and keep your energy levels and productivity up. It will also allow you to feel less stressed and help with your wellbeing.
Many of you will now be familiar with mindfulness and may even have tried it before. It is a great way to improve your mental wellbeing whilst spending more time indoors or feeling like you can’t separate home from work anymore.
Taking time to pay attention to the present, and our own thoughts and feelings is a great way to feel more relaxed and understand ourselves better. Just reminding ourselves to take notice of these is the first step, and can help us to appreciate the things around us that we might have been taking for granted.
You could pick a time of day to do it and go and sit it another chair to help you differentiate. If you wanted to take it a step further you could try some mindful meditation or combine it with some yoga.
Get Some Fresh Air
This may seem like a tricky one if you are self-isolating, and even more so if you don’t have a garden. We would recommend opening some windows to allow the fresh air in. If you can go out for a walk then this is a great way to get some fresh air so take a break and get out.
Fresh air is a necessity for both physical and mental health as it helps to keep us positive and lowers body temperature. Keeping the windows closed all day will can increase levels of fatigue, drowsiness and irritability.