Post lock down: How isolation made us healthier and our tips to maintaining these gains
We’ve learnt a lot during our time in isolation. In slowing down, we were forced to take a step back and make more time for ourselves. In doing so, we have discovered how to better care for certain aspects of our wellbeing.
Isolation has been a tough time for many, particularly those who have been personally affected by COVID-19. On top of this, many have lost their jobs and their next steps are unknown. However, amongst the uncertainty, we have had an opportunity to relay some foundations of how we want to proceed into the new norm with a few of things we have learnt during isolation that have made us healthier.
These wellbeing practices have been foundational in helping us survive isolation in and amongst busy schedules of living, working, raising families and staying safe, and because we have gained some unexpected health benefits, we thought maybe they could help you too.
The best part?
The wellbeing practices that we have learnt to know and love are free, easy and can all be done in the comfort of your own home.
The top 10 things we will continue doing post-isolation for a healthier and happier life
1. More home cooking
The benefits of home-cooking are well-known. From being better for your health, to helping you save money and being a great way to get your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, this isn’t new information. What has changed, however, is the time we have had to do more cooking. From trying new recipes, to revisiting our old favourites, and enjoying homemade meals every day of the week, a lot of us have had a ball in the kitchen and our mental and physical health are all benefiting!
2. Daily exercise
Being in isolation has greatly increased the expendable time in our days as we haven’t been commuting to work. For many of us, this has meant extra time for exercise. We have also discovered a whole range of new online workout platforms specifically designed for remote exercise. This extra time has given us the ability to explore new styles of workouts, test new workout routines and introduced us to new online fitness communities.
We have come to realise that there is a workout to suit everybody, and a lot of them can be done at home for free! Isolation has essentially taught us if you have a body, you have a gym. Plus, it’s been nice to work out for a full hour at lunch given active wear has been our everyday work attire 😉.
3. Looking after our immune systems, holistically
One of our biggest learning from COVID-19 is not only that there is more we can be doing to look after our immunity, but that our immune health is holistic and complex. A single nutrient or health practice is not able to “boost” your immunity. Instead, we need to work towards a more multifaceted approach considering nutrition, diet, lifestyle, supplements, stress and sleep. To find out exactly what science says will help you, read our article on holistic immunity here.
4. Reducing stress at home (for free!)
Spending a lot more time at home with ourselves has taught us that a lot of the stress we experience has been brought on by ourselves. Trying to be and do too much for too many people is exhausting. While some stress is necessary, the parts that are self-inflicted and based on unnecessary expectations we place on ourselves to achieve a never-ending list of “things,” isn’t doing anything for our health or our immune systems.
Ironically, we then spend a lot of money on trying to reduce our stress levels, when there is so much capacity to look after your stress levels at home for absolutely no cost! Having spent this time slowing down, a lot of us have had the opportunity to practice those stress-reducing techniques you often hear about but have (read ‘make’) no time for. E.g. making more time for relaxing activities, sleep, hobbies, exercise, and of course, doing less.
5. Do less more often
One of the biggest bits of feedback we heard from our global questionnaire on what we’ve learnt from our varied experiences in isolation (and it’s not all good, this period has been extremely tough for a lot of people), is how nice it has been to slow down for those of us who have had the privilege. It’s been unfortunate that these are the circumstances that forced us all to take a step back, slow down and breathe, but doing less more often is definitely something that we are going to continue post-isolation. The benefits of taking more time for self-care, gratitude and hobbies has been a welcome break for our mental and nervous systems.
6. Thinking about more ways to be grateful
The restrictions around COVID-19 has been a been wakeup call to a lot of the things we usually take for granted. Think stocked supermarket shelves, dinners at restaurants, jobs, schools, day cares, travel, hugging, technology and quite importantly, medical and essential service staff.
Isolation has taught us that we need to take more time to appreciate the things around us. There is a lot that goes past us every single day unacknowledged. In having a bit more time each day, we will utilise this to show gratitude to all the little moments of life that make it what it is. Gratitude is also an important component of mental health, and something we should spend more time practicing in our quest to better ourselves.
7. Prioritising hobbies
We have picked up so many hobbies and creative outlets through our time in isolation. Whether it was trying something new or getting back to something you used to love – keep up with these – they’re important for your mental and creative health.
8. Be kind to each other
Isolation has shown us some of the most remarkable aspects of humanity. It has taught us a huge amount about the impact of being kind to one another and what this does for our health and happiness. Once restrictions are lifted, businesses can still go out of their way to give back as much as they can to the societies that keep them alive, and individuals can still be as kind and generous to friends, families, colleagues, neighbours and general civilians simply because it feels good and because we’re growing as a collective to be better for, and to, one another.
9. Nurturing relationships
Isolation has taught us a lot about the importance of connection and relationships. For some, we have had an unparalleled amount of time at home to enjoy and connect with family – an opportunity you may never get again, which makes it special, even if challenging at times.
Alongside enjoying the down time and finding more peace with being in our own company, a lot of us have found more time to reach out and connect to friends and family around the world, that we didn’t necessarily make as much time for before, because we were too caught up in our busy schedules.
Relationships (of all kinds) and a sense of belonging are important components of physical and emotional health. Isolation has reminded us that meaningful relationships can be maintained, no matter how far apart you live from the people in your life. Technology makes it so easy to stay connected, so even when you don’t have the time or capacity to physically be in someone’s presence, a familiar face is just a phone call away.
10. Engage in healthful practices daily
Your health is not the result of a single activity but is the sum of everything you do. Isolation has given us a lot of time to reflect on the aspects of health that are important to us and spend more time nurturing those.
The circumstances within which we have been forced into isolation are certainly not ideal, and while it might not feel like it for many of us, we have been extremely lucky that we can isolate at home. So many essential workers don’t have that luxury; if you’re one of those people continuing to work outside the home you may have less time for these tips, but perhaps you can still find some small things here to reduce the stress we’re all feeling.
Looking after your health is something you can practice daily. Whether that be through slowing down, cooking more, exercising or making more time for friends and family. It doesn’t mean doing everything for your health every single day until you’re overloaded with healthful practices. Making a little time each day to participate in one thing that helps with your health (including the things you do that aren’t on this list) could be a good act of self-care in a time when that’s hard to come by.
The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and is general advice. It should not, nor is it intended to be, relied on as a substitute for individual medical advice or care. If the contents of this, or any other of the blogs in this series raises any concerns or questions regarding your health, please consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.