Throughout the coronavirus pandemic and the multiple lockdowns that have come with it, there has been a huge push to focus more on our mental and physical health. However, as lockdown comes to an end and many of us start to return to school, work and our normal everyday lives, it’s more important now than ever to take a step back and focus on our physical and mental wellbeing.
Why is it Important to Focus on Our Physical Health?
Being physically healthy can mean lots of different things to different people and many tend to associate physical health with their appearance. However, the key things to focus on when improving your physical health are:
These four things contribute significantly to your physical health, which in turn leads to better mental health, improved energy levels and reduced health issues.
How Can I Improve My Physical Health?
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep plays a vital role in your physical wellbeing as it allows your body and brain to repair and restore themselves, helping you to feel refreshed and more alert the following day. Sleep is also essential for proper growth and development in children and teenagers.
A lack of good-quality sleep can lead to sleep deficiency, leaving you feeling tired and run down. Sleep deficiency can also increase the risk of a number of diseases and health issues such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Healthy adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
As cliche as it may sound, you really are what you eat. Providing your body with the nutrients it needs is essential in keeping it working effectively. Without a balanced diet, you can become more prone to disease, infection and fatigue. Additionally, a healthy diet helps with growth and development in children and teens and those who don’t receive the nutrition they need can face problems in these areas as well as suffering from poor academic performance as a result of fatigue and a lowered concentration.
A balanced diet is made up of the following:
- 40% Fruit and vegetables
- 25% Fibre-rich carbohydrates
- 25% Protein
- 10% Fats
60% of the body is made up of water, proving that hydration is essential for our physical health. Keeping your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water helps your cells to function more efficiently, regulating your body temperature and flushing out waste.
Ideally, you should be drinking between 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day, including water, low-fat milk and sugar-free drinks. By consuming fewer sugary drinks, you’re also helping your dental health as well as maintaining a healthier diet.
Do Some Exercise
Regular physical activity helps to improve muscle strength and help your cardiovascular system to work more efficiently. It also helps to fight against the risk of diseases such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Getting enough exercise doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend hours in the gym everyday, just doing 30 mins of moderate physical activity per day is enough. This can include going for a walk, going swimming, skipping or star jumps.
Why is it Important to Focus on Our Mental Health?
Maintaining a healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body. It helps us to manage our emotional, psychological and social well-being, affecting how we think, feel and act.
How Can I Improve My Mental Health?
Connect with Others
Social interaction and good relationships are incredibly important for your mental health. They help you to build a sense of belonging and provide you with emotional support as well as allowing you to support others.
Spending time with others doesn’t have to be well-planned out. Simply spending time with family during meal times or phoning a friend can help you to build stronger relationships and gain a greater sense of self-worth.
Whilst exercise can improve your physical health, it also plays a huge role in boosting your mental health. Studies have found that exercise improves your mood by releasing chemicals called endorphins as well as raising your self-esteem.
Learn a New Skill or Hobby
Studies have shown that by learning a new skill or hobby, you can boost your self-confidence, build a sense of purpose and connect better with others. With such busy lives, it can often seem difficult to find the time to do these things, however, there are a number of ways you can incorporate new skills into your life such as:
- Cooking different meals
- Working on a DIY project
- Signing up for online courses
- Hobbies e.g. writing, sport and art.
Be Kind to Yourself
With so many pressures in today’s world to constantly be the best, it can be easy to criticise ourselves and find faults in the things we do, however, it’s more important now than ever to be kind to ourselves.
Over lockdown, many of us have had to make great changes to our everyday lives, including spending the majority of time at home, seeing our loved ones less and learning to work differently. Just as we have started to adjust to these changes, we’re now tasked with returning to our ordinary lives again, a challenge which can provoke anxiety and stress as our brain becomes aware of a potential new risk.
Understand that it’s ok to feel the way you do at the moment and try to start treating yourself as you would a friend. This will help you to develop self-compassion, something which makes us less likely to be depressed, anxious, insecure and stressed. Take a step back and recognise all the positive aspects of yourself and how well you have done to get this far.