We’ve all picked up a few bad habits over lockdown. Whether your WFH setup is putting your back out, late-night Netflix sessions are stymying your sleep, or you’re finding yourself pouring one too many glasses of vino, JLife consults the experts in search of a happier, healthier 2021.
Needless to say, 2020 has been a stressful year for all of us. As we start afresh for 2021, there are many ways we can actively improve our health and wellbeing, but one of the most important things–as well as eating well and keeping active–is getting a good night’s sleep. If you’ve got young children this can be an even bigger hill to climb as your sleep is often very dependent on theirs!
So, Lucy Shrimpton, The Sleep Nanny offers her advice forgetting some quality shut-eye in 2021…
Creating a restful retreat.
Make your bedroom as relaxing an environment as possible. Have warm lighting, safe candles, and soothing music to transform from day to night, making it the perfect retreat to unwind in.
Step away from the smartphone.
As hard as it might be, try to step away from all electronic devices for at least half an hour (ideally an hour) before you go to sleep. And this counts for children too. The blue light hinders the production of melatonin which is the hormone that controls sleep, therefore keeping you (and them!) awake for longer and making it more difficult to slip into slumber.
Separate work and sleep.
If possible, while working from home, try not to work in your bedroom but set up a desk in another part of the house. If you do not have a choice though, at the end of the day, transform your workspace so that it can’t remind you of work; put away your computer and paperwork and make something else in the room the key focal point.
Another tip for both adults and children –try not to eat dinner too late and avoid sugary foods and caffeine that might keep you up. Foods that contain high levels of tryptophan like bananas, eggs or green leafy veg are great for promoting a healthy sleepiness.
If you’re a person who wakes up regularly in the night worrying about things, keep a notepad beside you. You can unload your thoughts, no matter what time it is, giving you peace of mind and helping you drift back to sleep.
Establish a routine.
If you’ve got children, get them into a consistent bedtime routine; the cue and rhythm will help them settle. Be consistent; don’t let them into your bed one night and not the next.
Wife, mother of two and best-selling author, speaker and trainer Lucy Shrimpton is the founder of The Sleep Nanny. Her team of sleep consultants around the world help parents and caregivers of babies and young children to overcome the challenges with childhood sleep so that they can enjoy those precious years
How are your stress levels holding up–are you someone who turns to alcohol to switch off for a while? Sales of alcohol have witnessed a steep increased over the last few months as people struggle to cope with the stress and isolation of lockdown. The festive season can be challenging anyway, and you may find yourself drinking way more than you actually want to. That’s why we’ve asked BBC Radio 2 presenter Janey Lee Grace to share her tips on mindful drinking over the boozy festive season…
There is a growing trend in the UK of the ‘sober curious’, who wonder what life would be like without the booze (or without the excess). You definitely don’t need to be at rock bottom before you ask yourself the question: ‘would my life be better physically and mentally without booze?’ If the answer is ‘heck yes!’ or even ‘possibly’, then consider setting yourself a 30-day alcohol-free challenge or focus on moderation.
Alcohol-free does not mean taste-free.
The fantastic news is this is so much easier than it was a few years ago, there is now an array of amazing grown-up alcohol-free drinks, because the last thing you want to feel is that you can only have an orange juice with the kids while your family quaff the bubbly. Whatever your tipple, there are now excellent alcohol-free alternatives, from 0% beers and artisan botanical ‘spirits’, through to gut boosting kombucha and sparkling fizz.
There is another trend emerging, the rise of the ‘mindful drinker’, someone who sets boundaries and drinks consciously, rather than just continuing until the bottle is empty or they have fallen over! Just one tip for setting your mindful drinking rules: never drink when you are upset, fearful or angry, because your unconscious mind will associate alcohol as being the ‘saviour.’
It’s you, not the booze.
The truth is, if you’re having a fun time and enjoying the company of others, or the taste of a fabulous meal, it hasn’t got anything to do with what’s in the glass, only what’s going on in your head! Plus, without the booze, you will have more energy and clarity, be more present and even sleep better too.
Janey Lee Grace is a co-host on BBC Radio 2’sSteve Wright in the Afternoon and author of Happy Healthy Sober: Ditch the booze and take control of your life. She began her career as a backing singer for George Michael and went on to have her own top 10 hit. She has been sober for almost three years, runs Thesoberclub.com and recently gave the TED talk: Sobriety Rocks –Who Knew!
Recent studies have shown that bone, joint and muscle pain symptoms have worsened in lockdown for many people as they set up home offices in less-than-ideal situations. For anyone working from home looking to tackle the aches and pains of lockdown, physio Katie Knapton presents her guide to combatting the perils of homeworking…
It’s tempting to start early, or work through lunch, and even work later than usual. Set alarms or download an app to help structure your day. Try and set up a normal schedule, include breaks and try and get out for a walk as natural light improves general wellbeing. Regular stretches, arm raises, and squats, neck and spinal rotation scan help reduce the problems with long-term static postures. Your best posture is your next posture!
How are you set up?
Is your workspace comfortable, screen eye-height level, arms relaxed and level with the desk? Do you switch your workspace to standing in kitchen and living room areas? Audit the spaces that you work in, including laptop and tablet devices. Have you considered walking or standing calls? Not all calls have to be video.
Timetable three workouts into your week and do not just rely on weekends to make up for inactivity, as this is likely to lead to injury. Remember to vary the workouts to keep things interesting. The options available for weights and home workout sets are incredibly varied these days, it’s not all about running in the rain.
When we are stressed, we are more prone to shallow breaths and tend to tighten our muscles causing neck and jaw discomfort. You may notice these pains at different times throughout the day. Take a moment to do three deep abdominal breaths and try and relax those muscles in question. Meditation and timeouts are so important, particularly when working from home.
Carrying out work-life balance reviews is a great habit to develop. Take a look at your eating and drinking routines and make a note of any foods or drinks that are not being consumed in moderation. Remember, excess alcohol can have a significant effect on your sleep patterns and your mood.
With 25 years’ experience specialising in musculoskeletal injuries, Katie Knapton is a chartered physiotherapist having worked in both the NHS and private practice. She now runs the online physiotherapy service Physio Fast Online providing interactive physiotherapy sessions