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Lockdown 2.0

Dr Jane Benjamin (MBChB, MD), is a private GP in London, who is experienced in general practice and has a keen interest in women's health, sexual health, gastroenterology, nutrition and preventative medicine. Dr Benjamin highlights some key factors to be aware or during the COVID-19 lockdown and for those who may be vulnerable or shielding in the UK.

As December draws closer we know so much more about Covid-19, testing is more readily available, we stay up to date with the latest guidance and for a lot of us we have adapted to working from home and a new normal way of life. No home-schooling this time round is a huge benefit for parents to say the least (that is until your child has to self-isolate following a positive contact at school – and then we all wonder how we ever did this for 6 months). 

However this new normal is still hard and for many of us it is a reminder of the isolation and difficulty we all faced form many months. Life is about adapting change and learning to be resilient. However I don’t think any of us quite had this in mind.

So here is a brief reminder about what you can do during this period to improve your mental and physical well-being:

1. Look after your mental health and stay positive

During this time it is important to focus on things you can control, such as what you do on a daily basis. Try and create a structure and routine, this helps you feel more in control of the situation. Practice mindfulness, there are numerous online resources available, try start the day with or a yoga video, meditation session or some breathing exercises.

2. Exercise regularly

Exercise during this time is so important for mental and physical well-being and it is an excellent stress relief. We are encourage to take as much outdoor exercise as we like. There are numerous Pilates, yoga or general workout videos available online which you can use.

3. Eat a healthy balanced diet

A healthy balanced diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables and low in saturated fat is ideal. Make sure that you are getting enough fluid during the day. Try and limit your caffeine intake. Limit you alcohol intake and ensure you are drinking below 14 units per week.

4. Stay connected - speak to friends & family regularly

For all of us it is important to stay connected with family and friends during this time. Elderly relatives may be self-isolating and would greatly benefit from some daily social interaction especially if they have not been able to see family or grandchildren. For friends living alone, call them more often to see how they are doing. There are some incredible apps and sites available to arrange group chats.

5. Get enough sleep

Being well rested helps to improve general wellbeing, mood and memory. It makes you feel more alert and it improves immunity and reduces stress levels. Aim for 7-8 hours’ sleep per night. 

6. Get involved with your local community

Communities have really come together during this time. Local WhatsApp groups supporting individuals in your area have been set up, get involved if you are able to help by shopping for elderly relatives or neighbours.

7. Limit time spent reading media articles if this causes anxiety

It seems everywhere we look there are articles about Coronavirus. Continuously checking updates and reading online can lead to a great deal of stress and anxiety for some. If you fall into this group try and limit your time spent reading these sites or give yourself a set time per day that you use to update yourself. Make sure that you are using reputable resources. When looking for health guidance or updates use PHE website, NHS website or GOV.UK.  

8. Use time constructively

In a few months we will look back and this will all be behind us. We will be fighting our way to work on the busy tube and through the bustling streets of London. Never again will we have this time back. Use it wisely. Learn how to cook, learn a new skill, do an online course, clean out your garage or loft.  
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