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The 5 Ss for healthy social distancing

David Last’s advice on how to keep your mind and body fit and healthy.

Walking in Mullaghmore: keeping some sort of routine is vital.
Walking in Mullaghmore: keeping some sort of routine is vital.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Updated Mar 21st 2020, 3:00 PM

LAST WEEK WE outlined some top tips to keep you in shape during the shutdown.

Unfortunately, as the shutdown of schools, gyms and businesses continues, it is time to get even stricter in our fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

It is great to see many people play their part by honoring the rules of social distance as we all have to do our part if we want to flatten the curve.

The past week or so has been tough both mentally and physically, and this challenge may get a little more testing in the coming weeks.

However, we can incorporate lots of ways to keep our mind and bodies healthy and physically fit throughout this social-distancing phase. Sometimes we just have to slow down to speed back up and I have no doubt that within time we’ll all be back to normality.

Here are my top 5 Ss which are easy to remember and implement and can only help you going forward.

Structure

Keeping your regular daily structure is a challenging test at the minute. This is tough for a lot of us as parts of our routine have been thrown out the window.

With the recent disruption, we have now seen many people working from home, schools and colleges closing down, along with the many bigger mainstream gyms shutting their doors.

Most of us are now spending the majority of our times at home which can really chip away at our physical and mental health. My best advice here is to keep disciplined and make a plan week by week or day by day if that works better for you. Ensure this plan incorporates a strong work-life balance. Stick to a similarly structured day as you would have had previously, where possible. For example the same times for meals, work, family, workout, and even your own time to unwind.

For me, having an early morning routine is key and bringing in some form of exercise into your schedule has so many benefits – if it means something to you, then you will make time for what’s important to you. If you’re totally lost for home workout body weight movements, here is a guided directory with short demos of each exercise.

Sleep

The importance of good quality sleep is vital for you both physically and mentally and even more so right now during this spell. Of course, right now can be a bit more challenging to get a good night’s sleep – that’s understandable.

However, just like the points on structure, stick to your regular sleep pattern too and ensure you’re going to bed at the same time most nights that works for you and waking up the next morning at your planned time. Around this time try to increase your quality of sleep.

Simple ways to do this include:

  • Reduce screen time in the evening
  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark
  • With some having a reduced commute to work you may be able to squeeze in a little more time without your usual alarm clock
  • Aiming for 7-9 hours a night is a good goal – easier said than done at times but again, it is important.

Stress

There’s never been more a pressing time to take care of both your physical and mental health. Added stress can chip away at everything from our sleep, mood, energy levels and so on.

My advice is to not let this episode of our lives suck you up and increase your stress levels and while it’s easier said than done, try and bring in a couple of different ways to control your stress.

Physical fitness is very important but how you train and look after your mind is just as important, if not more so. Over these next few days and weeks allow some time to work on your mindset. Doing things that help the brain slow down, de-stress and unwind are vital and this could be anything like doing some yoga, meditation or even a 15-minute home workout. A healthy mind helps a healthy body.

The Headspace app is really useful and might just come in handy for you.

Stay apart, socially connect

Right now we need to socially distance and stay at home. We need to play our part while our medical staff do their very best at controlling the spread.

Staying at home isn’t ideal but if we all get involved, it can only help out everyone getting back to normality with time. Staying apart doesn’t have to mean disconnecting; no one should feel alone during this time.

Thankfully, we now live in a world where we can still connect with anybody within a click of a button. Staying connected is going to be important for your health and wellbeing. Use it to your advantage.

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This could be anything from a video call with friends, linking into a live group workout online or even a simple phone call checking in with a family member. Over the last few days I have seen some incredible ways of staying connected from 1-1 online training workout sessions via Zoom, Instagram or Facebook, online group video bookclubs or games with friends to even just a bit of fun with the family in the family WhatsApp group.

There are plenty of options out there so stay connected as this can only keep our mind and body interactive and engaged.

Sanitise

At this stage we really should all know the importance of this.

Frequent hand washing and in general keeping things around you clean and santised after use is vital. Everything can be mentioned here from keeping your hands clean with soap and water throughout most of the day. Whether it is from cooking the meals or homemade snacks, working on your laptop or devices for work at home, or even taking part in a home workout, make sure your staying well on top of this point and keep your hygiene game strong.

I hope this article has given you some simple tips and ideas while spending these few essential weeks at home. As I said before, sometimes we just have to slow down to speed back up, and I have no doubt that within time we’ll all be back to normality.

Thanks a lot for reading and mind yourself.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information, you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.

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David Last

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