How contractors can stay healthy post-lockdown
The coronavirus pandemic has made many of us reassess our own health. Whether that’s because it’s forced us to recognise how fragile our wellbeing is, we’ve over-indulged in unhealthy habits during lockdown, or we simply want to put our best foot forward health-wise in this new, post-lockdown world, lots of us have taken a good long look at our habits and have made a conscious effort to live healthier going into the future.
While we all know the basics of getting and staying healthier, sometimes it can be difficult to find a place to start. Often the best way is to choose just one area to work on and then add more in as you go, so that you don’t overwhelm yourself and give up. We’ve picked some areas that you may want to choose to look at so that you can take each thing one at a time.
While some contractors took up exercise during lockdown, some, with nowhere to go, became more sedentary. Regular exercise is not only great for your physical health, but your mental wellbeing too, so finding a form of exercise you enjoy and can commit to is a real benefit to your overall health. You may want to start slow by simply walking more regularly – aim for 10,000 steps a day if you have an activity tracker. Or you may want to take up gentler exercise such as yoga or pilates, or perhaps running for beginners with something like Couch to 5K.
If you feel like throwing yourself into it a bit more, you could always look to join a gym – there are some great offers around at the moment to encourage people back now they’ve reopened – and there’s the option of hiring a personal trainer if you feel you need that bit more guidance and motivation. Whatever you choose, taking up exercise is a great way to create a healthier lifestyle.
Improve your diet
This isn’t necessarily about going on a diet, but rather making permanent changes to what you eat and drink to look after your long-term health. Simple changes you can make include:
- Aiming to get your five a day by eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. This can provide you with vitamins and minerals, help your gut health, and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.
- Drink around two litres of fluid per day. Water, lower-fat milk, sugar-free drinks, and even tea and coffee all count – although water is obviously the healthiest choice.
- If you eat meat and fish, try to have two portions of oily fish per week, and limit red and processed meat consumption to 70g per day or less.
- Make healthier choices when it comes to snacks, rather than opting for crisps, biscuits and other less-healthy treats.
You could also boost your vitamin intake by taking vitamin supplements – particularly if you know there’s a gap in your diet somewhere. If you’re not sure what you need, don’t be afraid to ask your pharmacist or do some research online – there are even subscription services now that will send you tailored vitamins through the post.
Cut back the unhealthy habits
Most of us will admit that we do have our own unhealthy habits, whether it’s smoking, drinking too much alcohol, consuming too much caffeine or eating too many takeaways. Cutting back is a great way to reduce the harmful effects of these without going cold turkey and setting yourself up for failure.
If, for instance, you have a habit of drinking a glass of wine or two every night after work, cut back so you’re not drinking on ‘school nights’. If you’re smoking 40-a-day, try to reduce it to 30-a-day, then 20-a-day until you feel ready to quit entirely (the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is a great resource for advice on stopping smoking). Swap some of your daily cups of coffee or tea for herbal or fruit tea instead. Or cut takeaways down to one or two per month instead of per week. Small changes will become big changes down the line.
Keep some lockdown habits
Did you notice how during lockdown, many of us didn’t catch as many colds as normal? Well, it wasn’t just you: it was reported that rates of cold were at about a quarter of the five-year average last winter. Unfortunately, as lockdown restrictions have eased they’re on the rise again which shows that measures like regular hand-washing and sanitising, face masks and social distancing really were helping – so keep them going. Social distancing in public spaces (within reason) and wearing a face mask indoors if you can will go a long way towards keeping you cold-free.
We’d hope you’re going to keep washing your hands regardless, but perhaps keep some hand sanitiser about your person for when you’re using public transport or are handling goods in shops to prevent the spread of germs.
Take care of your mental health
It’s perfectly natural to be feeling some fear or anxiety now that the world is opening up again. It’s important to go at your own pace, as we outlined on our recent blog, but also to seek help when you feel you need it. This could be simply talking to a friend or family member, making an appointment with your GP, or signing up for counselling.
If you have health insurance for your contractor business it may well include access to counselling services. For instance, Equipsme’s plans designed for self-employed contractors – available through Kingsbridge – include 24/7 Stress Support, a helpline offering support on a range of matters and that can also help you access counselling services, both face-to-face and online. The cover also includes a range of other benefits to help you look after your health, including a 24/7 GP service, a nurse helpline, and personalised health checks. For more information on health insurance through your business, take a look at our website, where you can also get an instant quote.