Your Well-being during COVID
We’ve all had to adopt significant changes to our lifestyles as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many people with lupus and associated conditions this includes spending a lot more time at home and keeping a safe distance from other people.
During this unusual and stressful time it is perfectly natural to feel overwhelmed. It is important that you continue to look after your physical and mental well-being.
We know that exercise is really good, not just for our physical health, but for mental health too. During isolation, many people are less physically active than before, so it is important to try and work some gentle exercise into your routine. Below we have provided some information about resources to support you in staying active, if you are unsure where to start:
In collaboration with trained physical therapists Lupus Europe has developed an exercise program specially designed for people with lupus and associated conditions. All of the exercises are designed for you to do at home, without any specialist equipment. Exercise doesn´t necessarily mean that you have to run a marathon or go to the gym. This program shows that you can do it no matter where you are and how you are feeling. You should be able to find a level that suits you each day. Each of the five levels has a video you can follow and an accompanying information sheet. Give it a go HERE.
There are many different types of exercise you can do from home, such as yoga or Pilates. Classes can differ in duration and difficulty and end with a relaxation session. Short and effective workouts, designed by professionals, can be found on YouTube or downloaded as apps.
Choose the time and place of your outings carefully to ensure you avoid crowds:
– Early morning and late evening tend to be quieter in most places.
– Open spaces can be easier for people to keep their distance than narrow paths
– Consider driving to somewhere quieter (but do not share a car with people from another household)
– Avoid touching surfaces that could have been touched by others (such as gates, benches etc.)
– Stay at least 1.5 metres from other people at all times.
This guidance remains advisory. If you do not currently feel comfortable going outdoors, you can continue to shield inside your household as before.
Take time to cook
Good nutrition is important, but during stress and boredom can result in some unhealthy eating habits.
No overarching diet exists for people with lupus. However, lupus is a systemic disease, so maintaining good nutritional habits will help your body remain as healthy as possible.
There’s nothing better than a tasty, healthy homemade meal. Why not ask a friend or member of your family for one of their favourite recipes or go online and search for a recipe using the ingredients you have at the moment.
Looking after your mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and continues to impact our mental health and wellbeing.
Feelings of anxiety, distress and concern are normal. However, there are several steps you can take to look after your mental health.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Form a daily routine and plan activities that you enjoy, such as watching movies and engaging in your interests and hobbies.
- Stay active — set up an exercise routine to keep you physically fit and decrease stress.
- Eat well — a healthy diet will benefit your mind as well as your body.
- Stay connected with your family and friends — if you can’t meet in person, you can remain in contact using phone, chat, email or video calls.
- Get information from reliable, trusted sources to learn the precautions you need to take to stay healthy. You can find information on the COVID-19 support page of the Australian Government’s Head to Health initiative.
- Look forward — while the pandemic is difficult, it will pass.
- Be mindful about the way you ‘talk’ to yourself. Change negative self-talk to be more constructive and helpful. You can challenge your negative thoughts by asking yourself what you would say to a friend in the same situation.
- Turn off the ‘noise’ — when people talk about their worries, it can create more stress. Turn off the ‘noise’ by taking time out from the news and social media and by keeping your distance from people who create stress.
This infographic could point to a mental health issue in someone you love.
If you are spending more time at home due to shielding or strict social distancing, it is common to experience feelings of loneliness.
It is therefore important to stay in touch with family and friends. Try to organise regular catch-ups by telephone or using video chat services such as Skype, WhatsApp, Houseparty, Zoom or FaceTime.
It can be easy to feel guilty for not being productive during this time, especially if you see friends and family on social media doing home/garden renovations or exploring new hobbies. It is a stressful enough time without placing this additional pressure on yourself.
Find time to do something that makes you feel good; listen to music, watch a favourite film or TV show, read a book or practice a hobby. It can be good to allow yourself to zone-out from what’s going on in the world.