Exercise & Nutrition: How to Maintain Good Mental Health During Isolation
Without a doubt, the coronavirus lockdown has brought with it a case of the unknown, and it has caused unrest in many households across the world.
Maintaining good mental health during isolation is key to seeing things clearly, making wise decisions and keeping good physical health. A healthy mind is a healthier body.
Two of the most critical factors that will affect your mental health right now are nutrition and exercise, but it’s also the same two things people are struggling with most at the moment.
Depending on where you live, you may or may not be permitted to exercise as you normally would, and since you are at home more, you may be eating or drinking differently too.
Now, we can’t control the situation, but there are things we can do to maintain good mental health and divert your focus away from fear-provoking scenarios onto health-promoting scenarios.
Let’s start with food, because everything else goes out the window if your body is not receiving sufficient nutrients.
Bite Size Nutrition Tips for Isolation
- Get the right kind of carbs.
There are three types of carbohydrates – sugar, starch and fiber. Your body requires all three of these types of carbs in their most natural form, such as natural sugars from fruit, rather than processed in a chocolate bar. Healthy carbohydrates can be found in things like potatoes, all vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, legumes, nuts and seeds.
- Include good fats.
Healthy fats are essential for good mental health. Your brain requires them for proper function, and they help your entire body to run smoothly. Only a small amount per day is required of healthy fats found in foods like avocados, nuts, chia seeds, fatty fish, cheese, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil.
- Enjoy a variety of proteins.
Not all proteins are created equal and some are better for you than others. Either way, protein is vital for mental health as we use them for hormone production in the body. Hormone production has been linked to mental health, aging and energy levels. Our body also uses protein to repair and build new cells and tissues. Find good proteins in foods such as oats, almonds, lentils, pumpkin seeds, seafood, chicken and other poultry, lean meat, eggs, tofu and Greek yoghurt.
- Take vitamins and mineral supplements.
If you don’t already take regular vitamin and mineral supplements, now is a great time to start. Vitamins C and D are especially important for good mental health, but without plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as plenty of time outside, we can easily become deficient, so taking them via supplement is a great way to ensure your body gets what it needs. Natural supplements like Indium mineral are recommended for good mental health as it helps your body absorb more nutrients from foods, assists with hormone production, and improves your energy levels, leaving you more motivated for things like exercise.
Whether you are permitted to exercise outside of your home or not, getting enough deep breaths of fresh air into your lungs for at least half hour per day is crucial for good mental and physical health, especially during this lockdown period.
- Check regulations for your state. Most places require you to stay as close to home as possible if you go out to exercise. Practice social distancing and keep the length of time spent out of your property exercising to a minimum.
- Short HIIT bursts. Exercise doesn’t have to take long, and you can benefit from cardio in less than 20 minutes. HIIT stands for high intensity interval training and it’s perfect for maintaining good mental and physical health during lockdown.
- Walking. Sure, you may not be able to go on a long walk along the beach or through the parks at the moment, but even a stroll around the block can do the world of good for your state of mind. Walking also helps relieves tension and is gentle on your joints.
- Cycling. Depending on your state, you may still be permitted to cycle as long as you’re riding solo and not going too far from your home.
- Stretching or yoga - Whether you are planning to exercise, or you have been sitting in the same position for a while, giving your body a good stretch will help prevent injury and relaxes your mind.
- Cardio - There are all kinds of cardio exercises you can do from home to get the oxygen flowing and your blood circulating well. Try running on the spot for as long as you can or following a fast-paced fitness DVD.
- Bodyweights – The gyms maybe closed but you can still workout effectively using your body weight. The plank is a great example of a bodyweight exercise, as it engages many of your muscles at one time.
- Martial arts - YouTube is fantastic for learning new things, why not use it to practice something like Tai chi, a well-known martial art for mindful movement and health benefits.
- Puzzles and problem-solving games – Good mental health is more encouraged when the brain is actively doing something. Now is an excellent time develop your problem-solving skills with games you enjoy.
- Learning a new skill or language – Your brain loves to learn. If you fuel yourself with the right nutrition and hydration, it makes learning new skills and languages much easier.
- Memory games – Research has shown that memory games can improve mental health especially in older adults, and it can lower your brain age.
- Mindfulness – This is brain training in the form of bringing conscious awareness to something in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness has been shown to reduce anxiety, stress and combat old habits.
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