With the whole country in lockdown due to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to stay healthy, physically and mentally.
If you are not used to being at home every day, suddenly finding yourself confined to your house – be it on your own or with family members or flatmates – for several weeks may seem daunting. But, it’s doable with a little planning, kindness and understanding.
Remember almost everyone in New Zealand is in the same situation and it won’t last forever. While it does, we're all going to have to get a bit more creative with things like exercising and staying in contact with each other.
Here are our top 10 tips for staying healthy while in self-isolation:
1. Stick to a routine
Plan out a routine and stick to it. Having structure in your day gives you a sense of stability and peace of mind. For example, get up and go to bed at the same time you usually would and have your meals at the usual time. Make sure you get your normal amount of sleep. Plan different things for your weekend or day off so you can get a break from your routine, just as you normally would.
2. Get a daily dose of fresh air
Go outside for a walk or run – it’s good for your physical and mental health. Again, plan it into your schedule so you are doing it every day. Getting out of the house will make you feel better and reduce cabin fever.
3. Eat healthy food
Make sure you’re getting your 5 plus a day of fruit and vegetables to stay healthy. Avoid unnecessary snacking which is easy to do when you’re at home. Keep your eating habits as close as possible to what you would usually do. An excess of alcohol is especially risky at this time, so keep to standard drinking advice and find other ways to relieve stress.
4. Stay in touch
A lack of face to face contact with others is tough. However, there are lots of other ways to stay in touch. Pick up the phone, video call friends or family and stay in touch online. Start an online neighbourhood group to keep an eye on each other. You could also throw a virtual party where a group gets together online and connects that way. There are also lots of resources and ideas on the internet to keep you occupied and connected.
5. Exercise inside regularly
Set aside time each day or week to exercise inside, in the garage or in the garden. It could be yoga, weights, dancing or other forms of exercise. There are many websites offering free virtual exercise classes. It’s also a great time to get stuck into the garden, mow the lawns, clean the house and trim the hedge. See also exercising while staying at home.
6. Have fun
If you've suddenly find yourself with time on your hands, remember to do something you enjoy. Watch a movie, do some puzzles, play some board games, write that novel, read, redecorate, play charades, start to learn language or do anything else that will put a smile on your face.
7. Have a digital break
While it’s important to stay connected digitally, make sure you do have a break from it and balance your use. Plan times to be digitally connected and times when you switch to 'do not disturb' and become fully present to life in your bubble.
8. Healthy balance of news
It’s tempting to keep checking all the latest updates about COVID-19 but don’t let it rule your life. Keep informed but also a have a break from the constant flow of information. Have set times where you check the news, maybe morning and night to keep a healthy balance.
Meditation is proven to have many mental and physical benefits. As does practising mindfulness. They are both free to do and will improve your health and help you stay calm and centred.
10. Seek medical attention if needed
If you feel unwell and need to see a doctor or you suspect you have COVID-19, then phone your GP to make an appointment or phone the dedicated Coronavirus Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice. Medical facilities, pharmacies, vets, supermarkets and other essential services are still open.
Your mental health Health Navigator NZ