During the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have let our health slide. While home workout content is being produced at an astonishing volume, and we might have more time on our hands than ever before, that doesn’t mean it is easy to stay healthy in lockdown. If you have struggled to cope with the lockdowns, the work changes, staying indoors and snacking habits, you have come to the right place.
While the COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out around the world, that doesn’t mean that this pandemic is over. We all need to stick with our long-term plans for surviving quarantine, and that’s where things can get tricky.
For men who have struggled both mentally and physically during lockdown, here are five simple, achievable steps for men to stay healthy through COVID-19 and beyond.
Don’t Set Your Goals Too High
One thing that is bound to set us up for failure is setting our goals out of reach. We all want to achieve great things in this competitive world, but forcing ourselves out of our capabilities can only set us on a path to failure.
If you are looking to better yourself when it comes to your health, setting achievable goals within a reasonable time frame is the way forward. We all daydream that we could shed all the weight we want to lose and become a fitness god in just a few months, but realistically, those goals aren’t sustainable long-term. On the other hand, if you lay out reasonable steps that are achievable for you, you will feel the glow of success when those goals are met down the line.
Setting goals then meeting them successfully is a great way to boost your mental health and motivation. There’s nothing like the feeling of meeting your targets and bettering yourself!
Get A Mental Health Assessment
One thing that most men unfortunately struggle with is speaking about, and seeking help for, their mental health. A recent survey showed that 28% of men had not sought help for mental health problems they experienced. This is a very serious statistic; it shows that over a quarter of men bottle up their problems instead of getting help.
If you have experienced mental health problems in the past, or perhaps you are finding the pandemic difficult to deal with, getting a mental health assessment is a step in the right direction for your overall health. Workouts and healthy eating are great, but they can’t provide the mental health care that a professional counsellor or therapist can give.
Many people, especially men, leave their mental health care until the last minute - until they are in crisis. But think of it this way: if you feel a bit ill, do you wait until you’re having to call 911 to take care of your symptoms? No, of course you don’t. Apply this same logic to your mental health and you will be on your way to a healthier lockdown.
Only Do Workouts You Actually Enjoy
Many people convince themselves to push through workouts they hate. We are taught that exercise is good for us no matter what - and while your cardiovascular fitness might be improving, if you are hating every second of the workout, you are doing yourself a disservice.
Not all forms of exercise are for everyone. If all your friends are doing HIIT workouts from home and enjoying them, that doesn’t mean you are weird for hating that style of workout. If at-home yoga mat style exercise isn’t your thing, here are some other ways to exercise without hating it!
- Cycle around your neighbourhood. Cycling is awesome both for muscle tone and cardio, and involves getting fresh air, of course. You should make sure to comply with coronavirus rules when you are out and about by wearing a mask and keeping your distance.
- Go wild swimming. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with designated wild swimming spots, you should definitely give it a try. You should never swim in lakes or rivers that aren’t designated for swimmers or without a lifeguard present.
- Take up running. Even if you have never enjoyed running, many people are finding it a cathartic exercise during lockdown. It allows you to get your heart rate up and let go of any stress and tension you are experiencing. Make sure to invest in high quality running shoes!
- Try yoga. If being yelled at by a fitness instructor via a laptop screen isn’t your thing, nobody can blame you! Try a gentler form of exercise that still tones your muscles and increases your strength, such as yoga. You can access teaching from professional yoga teachers via YouTube, making this a free activity that is easy to start.
- Dance workouts. Did you know that dancing can burn up to 500 calories per hour? During the lockdown period, many professional dancers are teaching online for affordable prices. This could be any style of dance you wish, from Latin to contemporary or breakdancing. If you fancy learning a new skill at home - no in-class embarrassment here! - try dance workouts to keep yourself fit.
Involve Your Family And Friends In Your Health Plans
If you are planning to revolutionize your health and fitness while you are stuck at home, it is a good idea to involve your friends and family in your journey. It is much easier to give up on something you haven’t shared with the world; if you want to stick with it, why not bring others along with you?
This could be achieved through regular posting on social media; or something as simple as getting your wife, kids or friends to join you in the regime you have planned. You could even get matching sports gear such as a baseball batting tee to really make things more fun and team-oriented. This is a fun, motivational way to stick to your goals and achieve greater results in the long run.
Similarly, it can feel amazing to get support from others. Even if nobody actually physically joins you on your exercise or diet plan, by informing others of your achievements you will feel uplifted by your support network. This will make you feel great, and propel you even further into the healthier version of yourself you want to be.
Don’t click away after reading the word ‘Meditate!’ Just like mental health awareness, many men shy away from engaging in practises like yoga and meditation. This might be from a fear of vulnerability, or simply because you think it may not do anything positive for your life. Well, think again,
Meditation is an ancient practice that takes dedication to actually have an effect. You can’t try to meditate once and get frustrated that it doesn’t work - patience is absolutely key. Following online beginners’ meditation classes is very useful for guiding yourself into meditation slowly but surely, setting achievable goals and allowing yourself to ease into the process.
If you are someone who experiences anxiety or high stress, practising meditation could change your life. It is a free activity that only requires a few minutes of dedication per day, and can be unbelievably helpful for anyone who needs help to calm down and switch off.
If you are struggling to feel healthy, either mentally or physically, during COVID-19, why not use this guide to help yourself get back on track. We all fall off our goals or ideals sometimes; getting back on the horse is the only way to regain motivation and strength.