Coronavirus and sleep: FIVE things you can do right now to help you thrive.
Now more than ever our health and wellbeing are essential. A strong and healthy immune system is our safest defense against Coronavirus, yet when we are faced with the stress of a global disaster, removal of normal routine and reduced access to healthy foods, a focus on health can feel like the last thing we want to do.
What if you switched that around and made health your number one priority during this time of isolation? Emerging from this period feeling re-energised and fighting fit would be a fantastic way to turn this situation into an opportunity as well as ensuring you are doing your best to maintain a healthy line of defense in your body, should you become unwell.
For a number of years, I have been teaching women how to break free of the miserable cycle of yo-yo dieting. Learning how to love their bodies and eat in a healthy way so that they feel good from the inside out. The good news is that when you stop dieting and start eating nourishing foods to heal your body, your weight finds a natural and happy place. All of a sudden weight-loss and health can come together in a very easy way and years of dieting and restriction can be left behind, creating a beautiful freedom.
The question is, what has this got to do with your sleep? What is important to understand is how interconnected your body is. Your immunity is a complex system made up of cells, tissues and organs. All of these things work together to create a line of defense, yet if your body is out of balance then your immunity will be weakened.
There are many factors which cause a weakened immune system including; pesticides and herbicides, heavy metals, poor sleep, high blood sugar and poor digestive health such as diet and an imbalance in gut flora.
Trying to improve one element of your health without taking a look at the others will rarely give you the results you are looking for, health needs to be nurtured holistically at a mind, body and soul level.
Here are FIVE key things you can do to help you thrive through this:
Let go of high expectations: We are in a period of unknown and transition – be kind to yourself and know that you are not going to get it all perfect. Reducing stress is essential for your wellbeing right now.
Routine: A routine is really important when it comes to sleeping well. Make sure you have a consistent time you go to bed and time you get up. Removing screen time for an hour before you go to sleep helps your brain relax and prepare to rest. It is also a good idea to keep your phone out of your bedroom.
Reduce stress and anxiety: Not so easy when facing an international disaster. It is very normal to be feeling fear and anxiety right now but stress releases cortisol which prevents you from sleeping which in turn reduces your immunity and when you are tired, you feel more stressed – it can be a tricky cycle.
Wake up in the morning and decide how you want to feel. Choosing to focus on things that feel good will take you a long way in managing how you feel. Mindfulness and breathing techniques are very powerful tools which can be used throughout the day and before bed.
It is impossible for your body to feel both stressed and relaxed at the same time. Using practices to calm your stress response and bring your body into homeostasis are very beneficial.
Tools such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, exercise and positive mindset practices like journaling and gratitude are incredibly powerful and can be used as often as you need throughout the day.
Take a moment to sit with your breath right now as you read this blog.
Take a deep breath all the way into your tummy and empty your body completely on your out breath.
Repeat this three times.
See, doesn’t that feel good?! In less than 30 seconds you have positively impacted how you feel.
You can do that as many times during the day as you need.
Eat well and plan your food: What you are eating right now matters. All of a sudden, you are faced with a very different routine and limited access to fresh produce. This can leave you in a place of making unhealthy food choices and comfort eating. Yet your food choices directly impact your quality of sleep, blood sugar balance and your immunity so taking time to plan what you are eating is going to make a big difference. Spending 30 minutes planning your food for the next few days will dramatically reduce stress levels later on. Eating balanced meals with a small about of protein and plenty of complex carbohydrates in the form of lots of fruit and vegetables at every meal will reduce inflammation and support your health.
Smoothies are great for kids and a perfect way to get lots of fruits and vegetables into your diet in one sitting. You can also use frozen fruits and vegetables which is helpful when you have limited access to do grocery shopping too.
Bulk cooking is really helpful right now – dishes like curry, dal, bean stew, chilli and soups are all things that can be cooked in advanced and either frozen or eaten over a period of a few days.
Make sure you eat regularly and don’t let yourself get hungry so that you maintain your mood and are less likely to make unhealthy food choices.
Take space for yourself. All of a sudden you are facing homeschooling if you have children at home, time with family 24/7 and working from home. That is not easy to manoeuvre, and it is very easy for you to put your self-care at the bottom of the list. Make sure you plan time out in your day just for you – read a book, have a bath, get out for a walk or in the garden. Please let go of any feelings of guilt around this – it is essential for your own health and that of your family that you take time for yourself.
Sending love and well wishes to you all. Taking the time to really focus on your health and wellbeing right now will serve you greatly.