Drinking at LOCKDOWN has become a hangover from hell for many of us — no matter how many times we tell ourselves that tonight we’re only going to stick to soft drinks.
And now a new study has confirmed that, revealing that the drinking habits we chose during the pandemic still affect our health.
England’s National Health Service has found that people who have become heavy drinking during lockdown still do, despite restrictions being lifted.
This could lead to more than 25,000 additional deaths and cost the NHS £5.2 billion. But it’s not just closed drinking habits.
From boredom snacking to horrible sleep patterns, we’ve been plagued by bad habits during lockdown — and they’re still hurting our health and wellness.
We asked the experts to reveal how to ditch these unwanted habits once and for all, and return to a healthier lifestyle.
Lack of exercise
Pre-lockdown, commuting to work, going to the gym and all kinds of outdoor activities were normal.
But being forced to stay indoors for long periods ruined many of these healthy habits.
Wellness Results Founder (resultswellnesslifestyle.com), Cecilia Harris, who is also a personal trainer for celebrities including Lucy Mecklenburg, Wayne and Frankie Bridge, tells SunHealth: “Lockdown was the perfect excuse to stop moving.
“Being indoors made it difficult to motivate ourselves, but it also affected our confidence.
“People now feel like they can’t exercise after a long break, but that’s not true.
“I always say start with a walk. Go out for a 15-minute walk, and then increase that time each day. Don’t go to the gym at first, it can be scary.
Embrace home workouts. Choose short sessions, and then, as before, slowly build up that movement.”
become socially isolated
LOCKDOWN denied us face-to-face contact and made us swap nights into the night and Zoom tests.
This has had a major impact on our health, with research linking isolation and loneliness to increased risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety and depression.
But the restrictions have now been lifted, and some still prefer to stay with Netflix.
“We’re used to feeling safe at home and our brains tell us it’s scary to socialize,” says Jeff Spiers, life coach and nutritional psychology expert.
“Admit that you do this – many people will not realize that they are turning down social events. Next, start socializing in a familiar environment.
Invite friends over for drinks at home.
“Then plan social events close to home on the weekends, and leave weekend nights free.
“Every time you take a new step, realize how fun it was and how much better you felt from the face-to-face contact.”
bad sleep pattern
Some experts have called it Coronasomnia, others have called it the “sleep pandemic.” But whatever you call it, the lockdown has wreaked havoc on our sleep.
A study from the University of Southampton showed that the number of people suffering from insomnia rose from one in six to one in four, and that poor sleep persisted.
Life coach Jeff says, “Start a sleep routine to correct this. Set a bedtime and make sure you start your bedtime routine 30 minutes earlier.”
“Turn off the lights and turn off screen time – turn off the TV, turn off your laptop, turn off your phone.
Next, start a routine that you follow every night: brushing teeth, washing face, etc.
“When you get into bed, take a pen and paper and write a to-do list for the next day, and finish writing whatever is on your mind.
“Finally, set the alarm to wake up at the same time every day.”
More than 40 per cent of adults in England are gaining weight during the pandemic, with an average gain of half a stone.
Snacking out boredom or eating out of anxiety was the main culprit — and for many that habit stuck.
Life coach Jeff says: “We have to replace the old habit with a new one.
For example: Old – eat a chocolate bar at 11 am every day. New – make a cup of tea at 11 am every day.
Old – Opening the kitchen cupboard after work to find a snack. New – Going for a walk around the block.
“When you find yourself starting an old habit, say to yourself, ‘Stop.
Shout this out loud if you need to.
“Finally, celebrate your success. Each time you exchange habits, give yourself a chance.
“This will strengthen the neural bond and establish the new habit faster.”
bad body posture
When the pandemic hit, laptops became the daily routine, and they had a huge impact on our bodies.
Domestic workers reported high levels of low back pain, shoulder and neck pain, tension headaches, and even numbness in the buttocks.
If you’re still working from home, wellness expert Cecilia says, “Stop sitting on the couch or dining chair — invest in an office chair.
“Elevate your laptop to eye level with a laptop stand, or purchase a separate monitor to reduce stress on the neck.”
Then, whether you’re a WFH or in the office, introduce the movement.
Doctors recommend standing and moving every 30 minutes. This sends oxygenated blood to the tired muscles.
Try my favorite stretch: Stand and raise your arms to the side.
“Rotate one shoulder forward, the other back, and twist your arms. Now reverse the other way.”
Steps to stop drinking
If you’re still registering units even though the shutdowns are over, you’re not alone.
“For some patients, the lockdown has reduced the amount of alcohol they drink, but for others, it has caused a major problem that they are struggling to change,” says GP Sarah Garcid.
Here’s how to deal with heavy drinking.
number of units: If you regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week (the equivalent of six pints of medium-strength beer or ten small glasses of low-strength wine), or you’ve been struggling to limit your daily drinking since the lockdown ended, it’s time to assess your consumption.
go slow: When it comes to alcohol, we’re talking about addictions and habits and it’s important that people feel supported in making changes.
Start small instead of trying to give up suddenly.
Take it slow, and don’t get carried away because you’re less likely to quit.
Budgeting: Budget for alcohol when visiting the supermarket.
Not only will this limit how much you buy, but it will also make you realize how much money you are wasting on alcohol that can be spent elsewhere.
See the pennies pile up!
make a plan: Before you start drinking, set a limit on how much you intend to get rid of.
For example, say to yourself, “I’ll have one big glass of wine” instead of just opening a bottle and putting it on the coffee table and seeing how it goes.
less forceMake your wine a light drink, or make your beer a drink by adding lemon juice to half a glass.
You can also buy lower strength spirits that taste exactly the same, but contain less alcohol. Non-alcoholic beer comes in a complete package now, too.
Stay hydrated: Drink as much water as possible during the day.
This will help keep you hydrated and make you feel full with fluids, so you are less likely to want to drink a lot of alcohol.
If you drink, switch glasses of water.
asking for helpTalking to your GP is key to getting help with alcohol. NHS doctors can advise you on ways to change habits.
They can also check your health and refer you to a program if they feel it will benefit you.
Don’t be silent if you need help!
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