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  • Writer's pictureJennifer McDiarmid

Keeping well whilst working from home

So here it is, September. For many, like me, today was the day that the children went back to school, and for the first time in 6 months there seemed to be an element of normality and routine.

I have worked with so many people in so many different ways in the past six months, lots of whom were parents desperately juggling working from home/ home schooling and being a parent. Many wanting to support their own wellbeing, whilst simply not having the time. Whether that is you, or not, now is as good as any time to look at your wellbeing whilst working from home. Many offices have started staggered return to work but many have announced they will remain close until at least 2021, whichever scenario you are in, lets think about some really good top tips to boost your energy, mood and motivation during the autumn and winter months.

1. Routine

Don’t underestimate the importance of routine. Not just in how you plan the activities in your life, but also in the way you eat. It is far too easy to not think about what you are having for lunch or dinner until just before that mealtime. You go to the fridge with the best of intentions, but then look to realise the vegetables have gone off, there is no protein that is quick to cook, or you have no idea to put together a nutritious meal with the food you have left. When this happens, it is so normal to then quickly reach for the toast, crisps, quick chocolate bar or even some coffee to keep you going. This is the quickest way to not only cause blood sugar highs and lows, but also a really big missed opportunity to get key nutrients into your body to boost energy, mood, immunity and how your body functions.

Don’t leave your meals to chance. If you are getting up and making breakfast, see what’s in the fridge that morning and plan your meals for the day or the next couple of days. This way you know what you will eat, when you will eat it, and if you make these decisions before you become hungry it makes choosing nourishing food over quick carbs much easier.

2. Start drinking more water

This is absolutely the first place to start when thinking about your wellbeing. Your body physically and mentally cannot perform at its best when you are dehydrated. You will be surprised just how much difference drinking more water can make – not only to how you look, but also how you feel – especially your energy.

Get your 2 litres of water in, and if you can, start to choose drinking water over tea and coffee. Put a big bottle of water on your desk in front of you, set a reminder on your phone to remind you to drink at regular intervals during the day or any other tricks you need to think of to simply get your body hydrated. If you don’t feel thirsty, it doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need the water. We often misunderstand thirst for hunger, but promise you, your body really does need the water to function well.

3. Get moving at regular intervals during the day

If you have a desk job, you may well find that you are sitting for over 6 hours a day, perhaps only moving to go to the toilet (especially when you are drinking more water!) but this isn’t enough movement. Try and get up at regular intervals during the day – go for a 15 minute brisk walk where you can, or do a little home pilates or yoga session. Brief pockets of exercise boost the feel good hormones in the body, but also really help to get the lymph of the body moving boosting your immune function. Sitting for too long without movement can increase our chances of feeling low, depleted and having poor posture. Get moving, sit and straight and breathe – 3 simple reminders that make a huge difference.

4. Protein over carbs

Carbohydrates have got so much press over the past few years, with ketogenic and low carb eating becoming a bit of a trend. I am not advocating to completely remove carbohydrate from your diet, any decision for this needs to be taken on an individual basis. Eating too much carbohydrate, especially the white refined carbohydrates can be

detrimental to our health though. Eating too many of these can stimulate our body to store extra weight, especially around your waist. It can create energy highs and then energy dips, especially after lunchtime, promotes inflammation, poor concentration, sleep problems and can really impact the balance of the bacteria in our gut.

Many people believe that carbohydrates are the foods that keep us fuller for longer, but did you know that actually protein takes the longest to digest? If you feel low in energy, and your body is feeling sluggish, try to reduce your intake of carbohydrates down and instead increase your intake of protein, especially during snacks. Protein has so many health properties to it, and keeps your energy up, whilst building up the body without the negatives associated with white refined carbohydrates,

5. Think about your vitamin D

If you have worked with me before, then you will know all about the importance of vitamin D, especially now the summer appears to be over. Vitamin D is really important for so many different roles in the body – from bone health, hormone production, for our mood and energy and also for our immunity. We usually get our vitamin D through the reaction of sunshine on our skin. Make sure your levels are really boosted by taking a vitamin D supplement (if it is safe for you to do so) before the winter hits – this can really help get your immunity boosted, and stabilise your mood before you start to feel the winter blues.

6. Think about slow cooker cooking

My slow cooker is one of my favourite things. My mother in law bought it for me for Christmas about 9 years ago and I haven’t stopped using it since. Slow cooking is brilliant for so many reasons – it means you can be organised and at lunch time quickly throw in some veg and protein to be cooking whilst you work in the afternoon, but is also helps you keep much of the nutrient content of the food you are eating. Lots of vitamins are water soluble which means they get excreted into the water they are cooked in. If you are making soups, stews, casseroles then you are reusing the water and therefore reusing the vitamins that can be lost. Experiment with some recipes, get lots of spices and herbs into the recipes and you will be onto some winning nourishing autumnal meals.

7. Eat a rainbow

This simple tip is one of the best ways to amp up your nutrient intake. The colour, flavour and odour of fruits and vegetables are all made by little super power nutrients called phytochemicals. These phytochemicals have a huge range of health benefits that we need in order to really thrive. In order to make sure we are getting a full range of these key nutrients, get a really good variety of colour of fruits and vegetables – the greater the colour variety, the great the health benefits your body will get. Try and eat a rainbow colour of fruits and vegetables each day – another simple tip that can make the world of difference.

8. Keep a food and mood diary

This final step is one to consider if you feel like you a stuck in a rut. So many people know what they want to do, but cant seem to make the first steps to eating in a nourishing way. If you are in this place, then start by keeping a food and mood diary. This is simply keeping a log of what you have eaten and drunk during the day, but also a little record of how you were feeling, were there times of the day you felt more tired/ low? how did you sleep? How were your bowel movements, did you do any exercise?

By keeping this log, after a week – 2 weeks, you can then have a look and identify which meals or times of the day are the most difficult for you, and then you can start by just focusing on this area. You don’t have to feel like you need to make all the changes at once, and often people do this when they are on a ‘diet’ which means they are automatically putting a lot of pressure on themselves. Remember any changes you make need to be long term changes for long term health. Keeping a food and mood diary can help to identify what the most Important area for you is, and the best place to start without trying to change everything at once.

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