“We’ve been waiting for this for months, and I know I should be excited, so why do I feel so apprehensive?”

My client this week is not alone. Leaving Lockdown is what we have all been wishing for. But for many of us, there is apprehension about returning to normal life. We’re not sure about being ‘up close and personal’ with people we have been told to avoid for the last year. Insomnia, anxiety, depression have all been rife. Not to mention the comfort eating and inconsistent exercise. If they’re wondering why clothes sales have suddenly gone up, it’s because several of us are having to buy a few suitable work clothes in larger sizes!

The first thing to acknowledge is that this last year has been REALLY TOUGH. People talk about stress a lot, but what many don’t realise is that whether stress is physical, psychological or physiological, it affects the body in exactly the same way. And the extraordinary changes that we’ve had in the past year have ticked all the stress boxes. Physically, sitting in front of Zoom calls for 8 hours every day, moving around so little and staying indoors doesn’t suit anyone. I don’t need to tell you where the psychological stress has come from. Poor diet will contribute to vitamin and mineral deficiencies which is where the physiological stress comes in.

Sounds bad, doesn’t it! Well here’s the good news. Our bodies are amazingly forgiving. We have immense capabilities for healing and rebuilding when we start looking after ourselves properly again. That’s really what is at the heart of functional medicine – the belief that given the right tools of proper diet, exercise, sunlight, laughter, purpose and good relationships – we can heal an awful lot of illnesses and problems.

Every cell in your body is constantly replacing, repairing or renewing itself. You grow a new stomach lining every 5 days. Skin cells have a 2 week life cycle and then they slough off leaving new ones to replace them. The liver replaces itself every couple of months. So here’s something you don’t hear nutritionists saying very often:

I DON’T CARE what you’ve done to yourself the last year. I DON’T CARE if you’ve been drinking too much, exercising too little, sleeping badly or eating your own body weight in chocolate every day. IT’S ALL FIXABLE.

Yes, it’s affected your health and weight. Yes, you’re feeling exhausted and need a month on a Caribbean beach before you face the office again. Well, I can’t give you that, but I can give you some simple steps to help you recover.

  1. Stop beating yourself up. You’ve been through a lot. But no one’s going to give you a medal. Just remember, mental health is now firmly on the table both at home and in the work place. So if you need to talk about it, do exactly that. You’ll be surprised at how many people are feeling the same way. I have had some lovely conversations with complete strangers outside the vet, supermarket, even on the Tube (people NEVER talk on the Tube!) Somehow, COVID has allowed us to engage with people in a way that we didn’t easily do before. Let’s not lose that.
  2. Start your mornings with something healthy, for you. Doing something healthy straight away really does help set you up for a healthier day. And if the rest of the day goes wrong, you can always say that at least you started out right! So whether it’s 20 minutes of yoga, a hot-cold shower, a large mug of hot lemon, ginger and turmeric instead of the sweet tea, or eggs and avocado for breakfast instead of toast and jam, it’s all good. Ideally you would include some stretching, walking, hydration and breathing.
  3. Set up a really good sleep schedule and take it seriously. Sleeping well and deeply can fix a multitude of problems. See my previous blog post on sleep here. One thing that’s been helping me recently are the Patchwork melatonin patches.
  4. Hydrate. I know I bang on about this a lot, but it’s amazing how being properly hydrated affects your health. Try to drink 3 litres of water a day and see how you feel.
  5. Cut down on sugar, alcohol and caffeine. They are all stressors that deplete your body of vital nutrients. If you’re going to go cold turkey, then make sure you do it over a weekend in case you get withdrawal symptoms
  6. Start moving again. The clocks have just gone forward, the days are becoming warmer. If you can’t manage a long walk, try adding some short walks into your day as often as you can. Walking after a meal is especially helpful for digestion and starting to shift a bit of weight. Look for ways to move wherever you can. Take the stairs instead of the lift; walk up the escalator; park your car in the furthest place in the car park or a few streets away where you’re going. These things all sound small, but believe me they mount up.
  7. Plan your meals as much as you can. Taking an hour on a Sunday to get your food organised for the week, look through some healthy recipes and prep ahead as much as you can. Having Tupperwares of roasted veg, cut and washed salads, cooked meat, fish or tofu ready means you’ll have some healthy choices ready when you need a quick meal, instead of relying on Deliveroo.
  8. Fill the freezer and your snack cupboard with healthy options. I’m a big fan of frozen vegetables to add to quick meals or even smoothies, and having small packets of nuts, seeds and a little dark chocolate ready to put in my handbag for the days when I don’t get time to eat properly. Being prepared really does help
  9. Treat yourself with a face mask, massage, nice bath with aromatic oils instead of doughnuts and chocolate cake.
  10. Invest in your health! We offer full screening for bloods, gut health, nutrient levels, genetics and much more. Or have a look at our Ultimate SHIFT Course for an 8 week jump start aimed to get you feeling vibrant and full of energy again.